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MS in Education Insight: Six Elements for Planning and Implementing Blended Learning

A master’s in education imparts key lessons for using technology as a teaching tool in the classroom.

If you begin your morning with a green drink—a quick and healthy choice for busy professionals heading to work or logging in to an advanced teaching degree program—you know how individual and creative this exercise is. You bring your own preferred mix of ingredients to the blender bowl, producing results that may be similar each day, but also singular depending on proportions and one’s taste for kale, apple, pear, ginger, celery, or myriad other fruits, veggies, and spices.

As a teacher, your individual mix of creativity, energy, and prior experiences bring a unique and different approach to your students’ learning experience. In a similar fashion, a technique called blended learning strives to bring the best of unique and different learning experiences to your students. Blended learning is an educational format you may already use or be learning about in your master’s in education online degree program. If the term is unfamiliar, the Christensen Institute, a think tank specializing in educational innovation, offers this definition:

MS in Education Insight: Six Elements for Planning and Implementing Blended Learning

“A formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace; and at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home; and the modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.”1

Teachers enrolled in an MS in Education (MSEd) program at Walden University receive vital information about incorporating this innovative educational practice in their teaching strategies. In the course New and Emerging Technologies, Walden education degree-seekers read “A Roadmap for the Implementation of Blended Learning at the School Level: A Case Study of the iLearnNYC Lab Schools.”

In this required reading assignment, MSEd students learn how eight innovative schools use online and blended learning to personalize students’ educational experiences and lead them to future success. The report, written by members of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL), is meant as a guide. The authors stress there is no one-size-fits-all approach to creating a blended learning program.

But when planning any blended learning model, the report recommends considering six key elements. Walden’s online master’s in education students learn the importance of:2

  1. Leadership
    Successful implementation of blended learning requires strong and consistent leadership at both the district and school levels. Leadership is the foundation from which all other components develop and leads to the adoption of blended learning so that it becomes part of the fabric and culture of the school.

    • What are the measurable goals of the program?
    • What student needs are being fulfilled by implementing blended learning?
    • What support systems are needed to build the program?
    • What funding will provide the support systems needed to build and sustain the program?
  2. Professional Development
    Professional development is a key component for ongoing implementation of goals and for the road map. A coordinated, intentional, and systematic professional development plan, based on stated goals, should be in place. Professional development should be customized based on the needs of the blended learning teachers and administrators.
    • What type of professional development is needed for school leadership and blended learning teachers?
    • How will professional development be delivered and who will provide it?
    • How will ongoing and continuous professional development be provided?
  3. Teaching
    The classroom teacher is essential to the blended learning implementation. Teachers need to understand and believe in the pedagogical shift that occurs in teaching when blended learning is successfully implemented.
    • How will teaching and the role of the teacher change?
    • How will student learning change?
    • What is the school’s pedagogical philosophy?
    • How will best teaching practices be modeled and shared?
  4. Operations
    Successful implementation of blended learning requires the use of digital learning systems that provide teachers, school administrators, students, and parents with real-time student data, student progress in course, and the ability to easily adapt content and instruction based on student performance. Administrative systems include learning management systems (LMS), content management systems (CMS), student information systems (SIS), and related systems used in the school that provide administrative, teacher, and student data.
    • How does this change the school day (scheduling)?
    • Which state, district, and/or local policies foster or inhibit implementation (testing, accountability)?
    • What data should be collected to support individualized student learning? What systems are in place to collect this data?
  5. Content
    The decision to buy and/or build digital content is essential in the implementation of online and blended learning programs. Teachers may use content from an online provider, create their own, or do a combination of both.
    • Is content aligned to the instructional goals of the program?
    • How will content be acquired?
    • Is content aligned to state standards?
    • How will content be customized to meet student needs?
  6. Technology
    A reliable technology infrastructure is required for the successful implementation of blended learning. This includes a dependable telecommunications network, software, and hardware devices that can be accessed and utilized by students and teachers. In addition to the technology infrastructure, educators and students need effective technology support to maintain positive momentum in teaching and learning in a digital environment.
    • What technology is currently available and what investments need to be made to the school’s technological infrastructure, including but not limited to bandwidth, hardware, software, devices, and network?
    • What technical support for students and teachers is needed to maintain technological infrastructure (human, interoperability)?
    • How do we ensure interoperability between systems?

Learn More About Graduate Programs for Teachers

A master’s degree in education can update your skills and expand your ability to bring fresh teaching strategies to the classroom in areas such as blended learning. As a student earning an MSEd degree in Walden University’s The Richard W. Riley College of Education and Leadership, you’ll have a choice of 14 specializations, allowing you to choose an MS in Education specialization that closely aligns with your interests and career goals.

Earning a master’s in education online is the smart choice for working professionals who want to use what they’re learning to immediately benefit their students, or to seek advancement as a school administrator, counselor, director, or content specialist. And for those for whom time is critical, Walden offers six MSEd specializations in an accelerated format. You can earn a degree online in as little as 12 months, and for slightly more than $10,000.

Over 40,000 education professionals have chosen Walden’s well-crafted online master’s in education degree program to further their careers. They know good teaching makes all the difference in student success, topping factors like school services, facilities, and leadership.3 An advanced teaching degree can change your life and the lives of your students. Become the teacher children remember and thank long into adulthood. Let an MS in Education take you there.

Walden University is an accredited institution offering an online MS in Education degree program with 14 specializations. Expand your career options and earn your degree in a convenient, flexible format that fits your busy life.

1Source: www.christenseninstitute.org/blended-learning
2Source: www.inacol.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/02/a-roadmap-for-implementation.pdf
3Source: www.rand.org/education-and-labor/projects/measuring-teacher-effectiveness/teachers-matter.html

Walden University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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