A Quick Refresher
(for those of you who need it)
Blended learning is an environment in which students study in a “blended” model of face-to-face instruction with a teacher and technology-based instruction to meet their educational needs.
There are essentially three aspects of a blended classroom:
1. Visible learning: Provide the teachers with the complete view of the learning process.
2. Formative assessments: Provide teachers means to give timely and effective feedback.
3. Blended learning: Combination of textbooks and online-resources to improve learning experience.
The flipped-classroom is a pedagogical model that reverses the typical lecture and homework elements. A flipped-classroom is essentially a blended learning environment. Students view short video lectures at home and devotes in-class time to exercises, projects, and discussions.
Establishing Your Blended/Flipped Classroom
Blended classrooms essentially have the following or few of the under-mentioned elements:
1. Learning management system (LMS)
An LMS is a software product that sits within a school’s Managed Learning Environment (MLE). The LMS is the school’s central hub of the teaching and learning activity. It allows teachers to direct learning path, create and manage groups and individuals, assess assignments, track progress, create and share course material and interact with students, etc.
2. Digital media tools
Text alone can’t deliver the subtlety and expression required for meaningful connection. Audio-visual or the digital content has a better impact than written works. For successful flipped classrooms, it is necessary to provide video lectures and audio-video reference material to the students. These tools don’t only support teaching, but students also have a better chance of expressing their learning.
3. Content creation and sharing tools
Students and teachers need to capture and share everything that’s important in a single, easily accessible place. Sometimes, they also want to share selective things with one person, a few people or the whole world. These tools allow teachers to introduce course content through multiple learning modes, and facilitate students to express in various ways.
4. Collaboration and social media tools
These tools allow teachers and students to foster online communities of learners to enhance the course content. The biggest advantage of technology-based learning is that the students, as well as the teachers have the option to collaborate on projects. Students may need to share assignments, discuss learning or teachers may want to share study material.
Following is the list of top five classroom-blending tools. The criteria for selection are user friendly interface, cost-effectiveness and seamless integration with third-party programs.
5 Great Tools For Blended and/or Flipped Classrooms
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Edmodo is a learning management tool (LMS). It is very simple to set up and use. Edmodo features a Facebook-like interface that is clean and appealing to students. Students and teachers can reach out to one another and connect by sharing ideas, problems and tips. A teacher can assign and grade work. Students can get help either from the entire class or make up small study-groups. You can also connect with the Google-drive. Edmodo is free for individual teachers.
Schoology is also free for individual teachers. It too uses a Facebook-like interface and is as appealing as Edmodo. It provides all the features necessary for an effective learning environment. This special mention is on account of the discussion features and the advanced assessment-tools.
Screencast-O-Matic is a free one-click screen recording web app for Windows and Mac. It’s extremely easy to use, and you don’t even need to sign up for an account. When ready, you can upload your recording straight forward to YouTube. You can create videos of up to fifteen minutes. You don’t need to download and install the executable file on your school computers.
This is a very popular online tool to create and upload audio files. VoiceThread allows you to upload images (from your digital camera, scanner, or even paint program). You can also upload PowerPoint slides. Then students can record or write their own comments and/or narration about the images/slides. It’s a great tool to submit audio reports, assignments and audio feedback.
Evernote allows you to take notes and organize the material. It allows you to take notes in many formats, including voice and handwriting. You can sync notes on the web and across all your mobile devices. It is possible to share your work with other teachers and the class, and select them to edit your work. Evernote is free to use.
This was a list of the five best blending and flipping tools. Although I am exceeding the limit of five, but Wikispaces Classroom Wikispaces Classroom deserve a special mention. Wikispaces tools can keep a track of everything. It allows students to collaborate on large projects, while teachers can assess them in real time.
How many of these tools do you use? What other tools do you use? We’d love to hear your views in the comments.