What Is Blended Learning?
How to use new technology to maximize adult learning
Feeling Overwhelmed about Technology?
Adult learners are accessing educational content from many sources outside of the classroom. It’s happening now: videos, books, blogs, tweets, TV programming. The challenge for the educator is how to make instruction part of this overall learning environment, not separate or isolated from it.
Our Roles Are Changing.
Technology is a game changer for education. It is altering, and will continue to alter, the way people are being educated, both in and outside of the classroom. The challenge for the adult literacy teacher is how to blend the new with the old, how to meld the best of both worlds into a comprehensive whole that most benefits the student’s learning. No small task.
What Is the Teacher’s Role?
The computer is not replacing you. It’s taking over the part of the instruction that’s tedious and time consuming to give you more time to use your human talents: the ability to inspire people, to help them believe in themselves, and to challenge students’ beliefs and assumptions. By letting technology do what it does best, you maximize the learning for your students.
Implementing Technology in the Classroom
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How Do I Change the Way I Teach?
It’s easy to think of technology in terms of devices, software, and tools. And this is where things tend to get overwhelming, because who has the time and the expertise to learn and implement the newest gadgets? A better way to think about technology is to think about what our students need for success. Students need a learning community, the ability to communicate with their instructors and peers, high quality and engaging content, just-in-time feedback, and mentors. These aren’t new needs, but there are new and better ways to fill them. This is where we can help.
A New Learning Technology to the Rescue
We’ve created a whole new kind of learning technology that brings together all the elements you need to maximize learning for your literacy education programs. We call it a learning ecosystem. It surrounds your student with all the learning nutrients they need to maximize their learning. And the best part… all you do is turn on the computer.
What Is the Role of Technology in Education?
How does the educator balance the traditional methods of education: lectures, recitation, drill and practice, and teacher control, with the imperatives of the information age: customization, interaction, and user-control? Do we try to merge the two perspectives into a single learning experience or let them exist separately and hope the student can put the pieces together for themselves?
Outcomes Define the Way
How a student arrives at his or her learning destination is less important than what the destination is. New educational technology can make the biggest impact on learning by clearly defining and directing the student to a learning goal. It can recognize the personal differences and needs of each student. Essentially, smart technology customizes the instruction for each student, driving a more direct and successful outcome. It gives the teacher the means to focus on specific learning outcomes for every single student instead of generalizing for a whole class.
Since the invention of classrooms, educators have struggled to find a way to truly differentiate curriculum. The adaptive instructional technology that powers the GED Academy, TASC Prep Academy, and HiSET Academy creates a personal tutor experience for each student allowing instructors to monitor, refine, and maximize student progress.
Interaction and Learning
What Place Does Interaction Have in Learning?
Traditionally, students interact with their teacher, with other students, with the physical environment of the classroom or study area, and with their textbooks. For the most part, these types of interactions are one-directional, and therefore technically not interactions at all. Certainly it’s that way with a textbook or listening to a lecture; there’s never a guarantee that the student is engaged cognitively at all. Discussion sessions are different, but only for those who are doing the discussing. Students who do not participate are limited to one-direction interaction.
Very Little Interaction in Classrooms
In traditional classroom instruction, there is very little real interaction, and without interaction, the learning experience is passive. And much of the current adult literacy software is like this. It’s text on a computer screen, and the interaction is the action of moving a mouse and clicking on the correct answer. There is very little cognitive and emotional engagement because the learning program does not expect students to connect with the material in a deep and meaningful way. Students can click on answers without thinking very deeply (or even at all), and at the most, the program will tell whether an answer is right or wrong.
Real Interaction Is Dynamic.
For real interaction, there needs to be a dynamic, two-way give and take effect between the student and the learning material. The teacher, textbook, or software is only the means to the interaction. If these elements in the learning dynamic do not create actual and vital interaction with the learner’s thought processes and emotions, then learning is minimal at best.
A Dialectical Instructional Design
The GED Academy, TASC Prep Academy, and HiSET Academy use a dialectical instruction design that goes way beyond the interaction of the traditional classroom or text-based old generation software. It involves the student in engaging two-way conversations with the content and with their own thought processes. Students are engaged with the dialogue of students like themselves who are exploring concepts and issues. They are engaged in the thought behind the concepts and with the emotions of the virtual student characters. And they are engaged by being required to react to the content and then examine their responses from several levels.
Losing Control of the Learning
Many teachers feel they have to give up control of their students’ learning when they implement new technology. But this is a misconception about how technology should be used in the classroom. Our ultimate goal is for our students to be independent life-long learners. Teaching independent learning techniques is not only essential, but greatly increases student connection and engagement in the learning process. Embrace the attitude of collaboration and openness of the Internet. Instead of losing control, you will gain better control over improved results.
Three Ways to Use New Educational Technology
Leonard is a virtual teacher, learning interface, and your new personal teaching assistant, leading students through every step, from recommending lessons to reporting results.
1. Guided and Independent Practice
Use Leonard like you would activity and worksheets for independent practice. It will reinforce what you teach and eliminate a lot of the repetition of basic concepts and rules. Students can work in the classroom or lab, at home if they have access to a computer, at a library, or on their mobile phones. You increase student study and engagement time dramatically and give learners the practice they need to make the material part of their long-term memory, while you can spend more time on more difficult topics or in-depth learning.
2. Out-of-the-Box Lesson Plans.
Put Leonard to work as your personal teaching assistant. With the help of a DLP projector, computer, and Internet connection, you can turn your classroom into a dynamic learning environment that increases interest and engagement and at the same time teaches basic computer literacy skills.
3. Turn the Main Teaching Over to Leonard.
Let Leonard take over as a primary educator of your students. The program is built to do that and can carry the full weight of instruction. This will free you up for working one-on-one with individual students or small groups, where you can really focus on what individual students need. Leonard will provide the basic learning management for your students and give you the ability to monitor and intervene in your students’ individualized learning plans. You see faster results from your students’ learning because they are always on task in what they need to be learning at the moment.
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