This is the tenth session that I am blogging from the 2015 annual meeting of the American Education Research Association. Unfortunately, I had to leave the conference yesterday, but I did want to post an entry for this – and the other entries from today – so that others might contribute their notes from the session. So, this presentation is a part of the following session:12
72.062 – Understanding the Digital Evolution in K–12 Education: Policy and Practice Perspectives
Mon, April 20, 10:35am to 12:05pm, Marriott, Fourth Level, Armitage
Session Type: Symposium
Researchers will present diverse perspectives and research projects that examine how computing and digital tools are impacting education across states, districts, schools, and classrooms. Computer devices, digital content, video games, online learning, and models such as blended learning, are becoming an accepted part of the toolset in educational practice. There is a great need to understand how technology impacts all aspects of the K-12 education system including how for-profit and public institutions structure education options, district leaders make decisions regarding technology spending and implementation, and school leaders and teachers adopt local practices. The panelists will present research projects that illuminate key issues surrounding new technological developments in education, and frame agendas to inform research that can address these challenges.
SIG-Technology as an Agent of Change in Teaching and Learning
Richard R. Halverson, University of Wisconsin – Madison
Equal Scrutiny: Data Use, Access, and Assessment in Digital Education Contracting – Annalee G. Good, University of Wisconsin – Madison; Patricia Burch, University of Southern California
K–12 Online Education: Tracing Developments in Policy and Adoption in Ohio – June Ahn, University of Maryland – College Park; Andrew McEachin, North Carolina State University
Drowning Digitally: How Disequilibrium Shapes Practice in a Blended Learning Charter School – Andrea J. Bingham, University of Southern California
Blended Learning in K–12 Education: What Do We Really Have, and Where Do We Go? – Peter Samuelson Wardrip, University of Pittsburgh; June Ahn, University of Maryland – College Park
Patricia Burch, University of Southern California
The specific session is:
Drowning Digitally: How Disequilibrium Shapes Practice in a Blended Learning Charter School
In recent years, there has been an increase in educational policies encouraging and supporting the development of high-tech innovative instructional practices and school models. At the forefront of this wave of educational reform is a confluence of initiatives driving the growth of personalized learning (Banister, Reinhart, & Ross, 2014; U.S. Department of Education, 2009; 2012; 2013), digital education, and educational technology in K-12 contexts (Burch & Good, 2014; Kennedy & Archambault, 2012; U.S. Department of Education, 2013; Watson, Muraw, Vashaw, Gemin, & Rapp, 2011) – each of which implies changes in school structure and design and in teachers’ instructional practices towards improved student outcomes. In this context, school models that leverage technology to deliver personalized instruction have proliferated, as has student enrollment in, and funding of such school models.
Blended learning, an educational model involving some combination of online learning and face-to-face instruction, is an increasingly common mechanism for personalizing student experiences in K-12 contexts (Staker & Horn, 2012). Because it aims to personalize students’ learning experiences, blended learning implies certain changes in teachers’ roles and practices in the classroom; teachers may work closely with a digital curriculum, provide personalized learning plans, manage individualized pacing plans, or act as a coach or tutor. Little is known, however, about how teachers manage these changes in the day-to-day contexts of their classrooms or the challenges they face in doing so. Drawing on extensive in-depth interviews, observations, and documents collected at a blended learning charter high school, this qualitative case study traces how teachers’ roles and instructional practices develop throughout the first year of the school. Specifically, this study addresses the following questions:
1. What are the expectations for teachers’ roles and instructional practices in a blended learning school with a theory of action of personalization, as described by the founder, administrators, and staff?
2. In what ways, if any, does this differ from teachers’ roles and instructional practices as executed in the classroom in the school’s inaugural year?
3.Do these roles and practices change throughout the year? If so, how do they change and what are the contextual factors influencing this change?
4. What challenges, if any, do teachers face in implementing a blended model in the school’s first year?
Findings indicate that the blended learning model broke down to varying degrees in each classroom. Teachers struggled with managing overwhelming workloads, navigating and supplementing the digital curriculum, and handling high levels of technology-use in the classroom. In response, teachers modified the blended model with teacher-centric practices and low-tech strategies, struggling to reconcile the school’s vision for teaching and learning with the day-to-day happenings in the classroom. Using Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT), I identify contextual factors influencing teachers’ work in the blended classroom, and discuss implications for policymakers and practitioners. This study contributes to implementation research on blended learning models, and to the literature on personalized learning models more generally. This work also provides a foundation for future work investigating the effects of these types of innovative school models.
So if anyone has any notes from this presentation, please feel free to post them here.