This is the eighth 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:
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:
Blended Learning in K–12 Education: What Do We Really Have, and Where Do We Go?
Blended learning describes learning arrangements in which students learn in part through online or software-based delivery of content, and also in part through face-to-face instructional settings such as a classroom (Staker & Horn, 2012). Through the combination of technology-based instruction and face-to-face activity, new configurations of teaching and learning can theoretically occur. While there is a great deal of policy interest in blended learning, we know little about instructional practice in a blended learning classroom. Put differently, there is a great need for empirical data and case studies of classroom practice to lend deeper understanding of the ways in which blended learning is actually linked to student achievement in K-12 classrooms.
Researchers of educational technology have long understood that technology alone does not cause student learning (Clark, 1983). Similarly, the few studies that evaluate blended models compared to face-to-face instruction in K-12 settings show varying results (e.g. Barrow, Markman, & Rouse, 2009; Campuzano, Dynarski, Agodini, & Rall, 2009; Wijekumar, Meyer, & Lei, 2012). The mere presence of blended learning software does not cause student learning. However, the use of blended learning models does structure the kinds of teaching and learning activities that can occur in a classroom setting. We present a case study of instructional practice within a blended learning, urban, elementary school and explore three exploratory research questions:
1. How do teachers in this blended learning setting enact various pedagogical models and instructional strategies that utilize the affordances of their available technological and classroom resources?
2. What new challenges to instructional practice arise and what factors are needed to mitigate such challenges?
3. What new opportunities to improve instructional practice emerge and what factors are needed to realize these opportunities?
Our case studies make several contributions to the growing interest in using blended learning to improve student learning and outcomes. First, we provide an empirical account of classroom instruction within a school-based blended learning environment, with particular attention to how the affordances of blended learning tools interact with teacher practice to result in the classroom behaviors we observed. Second, we highlight some elements of instructional practice that appear to rise as particularly unique opportunities, and challenges, in blended environments. For example, we observe that the complexity of data use rises tremendously for teachers as they strive to implement digital tools, attend to data in those tools, and make rapid decisions about how to provide students with the right sequence of learning activities, and personalize each of these sequences for every student in a classroom. As we further examine these challenges in our case study work, we aim to refine particularly salient variables for future research, which may provide more nuanced and deeper understanding of what factors (e.g. instructional and data-informed practices) may truly link blended learning arrangements with student outcomes. This work will also inform future implementations of blended learning, professional development to support blended teaching, and provide a more accurate picture of the human element of blended learning.
So if anyone has any notes from this presentation, please feel free to post them here.