Teaching in the blended-learning classroom: A snapshot of experiences from BLU teachers

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Nov 2, 2017

Most of the readers of this blog know what it’s like to teach in a blended-learning classroom. But if you asked hundreds of educators around the country about their blended teaching experience, how many would share the same experiences, successes and challenges that you face?

Earlier this year, the Blended Learning Universe (BLU) partnered with the Foundation for Online and Blended Learning (FBOL) and Evergreen Education Group to take a snapshot of the most common blended teaching experiences. The BLU helped distribute a survey to teachers implementing blended learning via social media and our monthly BLU newsletter, and received 98 responses from K-12 teachers. Overall, FBOL and Evergreen Education Group collected a total of 549 survey responses from K-12 teachers through various outlets and partner outreach efforts. You can take a look at their complete survey data and analysis in FBOL’s latest report, Teaching with technology: Educators’ perspectives and recommendations for successful blended instructional practices.

Here we’d like to offer a glance at the data we gathered from educators specifically within the BLU community of over 500 blended schools. The survey contained 17 questions that asked about the teacher’s experience and opinions.

Some demographic traits among respondents are worth noting. Almost half (47%) of all the BLU respondents teach in grades 7-8, and the majority of teachers teach either math (43%) or English (38%). And 78% of the BLU educators surveyed reported teaching at charter schools. The average experience with blended teaching and training among respondents was 3.43 years. The survey included a series of open-ended, qualitative questions. Below are some highlights:

New opportunities in blended models

For one, teachers were asked about the most valuable way in which adopting blended-learning practices had impacted their teaching. The three most common responses were increased ability to differentiate, do small-group instructional time, and foster student collaboration. BLU schools appear to be leveraging blended-learning models to offer students a wider range of learning opportunities than was possible before using blended.

Shortcomings of blended

According to BLU respondents, the most difficult or disappointing aspects of adopting blended learning, relative to teaching, included unproductive student time on devices, an increased workload, difficulty motivating students, a shortage of professional development, and low-quality online programs. While BLU teacher respondents were more likely to work independently than collaboratively, nearly half said that they do work more collaboratively now than they did before going blended.

Knowing what they know now

Lastly, the survey teachers asked to offer advice – to look back at their shift towards teaching using blended-learning practices, and share what they know now that they wish they had known when they were just starting. The most popular advice here was to pivot to more small-group teaching, get exposure to a large scope of models and programs, and observe other schools and blended classrooms.

Some other noteworthy findings:

The most commonly-used blended models:

Station Rotation – 20%

Lab Rotation – 21%

Individual Rotation – 15%

Flipped Classroom – 10%

Flex – 7%

A La Carte – 4%

I am not familiar with the models, or I am but I don’t use any of them – 17%

On a scale of 1 to 5, how much has your teaching practice changed as a result of blended learning? (5 is completely transformed)

Average response: 3.77

On a scale of 1 to 5, do you believe student engagement and/or academic performance has improved as a result of blended learning? (5 is significantly improved)

Average response; 3.67

 

Do any of these survey responses hit home? If you’ve found ways to overcome some of the challenges mentioned to teaching in a blended classroom, share your tips with the BLU educator community on the Q&A Forum.

This post originally appeared on the Blended Learning Universe blog.

Jenny White is the assistant to the director of education as well as content manager of the Blended Learning Universe, a comprehensive online hub filled with blended-learning resources and a dynamic directory of blended-learning programs worldwide.