3c. Coach in online & blended learning & collaboration


This substandard is closely aligned to two ISTE student standards: 1- Empowered Learner and 7- Global Collaborator. The end goal of substandard 3C is to support and extend student learning with technology. This goal correlates to students being Empowered Learners who can effectively utilize technology to take an active role in their learning. Blended Learning is one strategy to support personalized and active learning. My first piece of evidence presents an argument for and overview of Blended Learning. My next piece of evidence ties into the Global Collaborator student standard by demonstrating the ways in which Google Apps for Education supports communication and collaboration.

Lastly, I consider the ways in which coaches and administrators can apply the principles of active learning towards providing teachers with new opportunities for professional development.

Evidence: Blended Learning

Educational technology research is still emerging and ever-changing. In my exploration for resources on Blended Learning, I came across a 2016-2017 study on the benefit of blended learning and the positive impact it can have in the classroom. Blended learning by definition incorporates technology. In my blog post,  I outline a study on blended learning and then present various models for incorporating Blended Learning which is learner-center and facilitates differentiation. 

The Christensen Institute, which has an incredible resource bank on blended learning, posits that effective blended learning must have three components:

  • learning occurs partly through online learning where student has input in time, place, path, and/or pace

  • learning occurs partly through in-person interaction away from home (school)

  • learning includes interconnected modalities along student’s learning path within a content area

It’s important to note that blended learning in and of itself doesn’t guarantee personalized learning. For example, if a math teacher has all students watch a video tutorial as homework and then has students apply the formula the next day, no personalization or differentiation is involved. Effective blended learning must incorporate elements of student voice and choice in addition to providing a means with which teachers can differentiate for students. To take the prior scenario and make it personalized, the math teacher could have students watch the tutorial and apply the concepts to a set of problems as homework. Using a tool like Google Forms, he/she could quickly determine which students got the correct answer. The next day in class, a rotation model could be utilized so that students needing one-on-one support could work directly with the teacher while those who are ready to move on could work with a partner to write math problems utilizing the concept and then quiz each-other. 

For my full post on ways to incorporate blended learning in the classroom, please use the link below.

Evidence: Google Apps for Education and Student Collaboration

Having taught first in a “Google school” and later a “Microsoft school,” Google is undoubtedly the better option for real-time student collaboration. Google allows multiple students to work on a single file without ‘conflicting changes’ or syncing issues. Even though I am currently teaching at a Microsoft school, the vast majority of my students take it upon themselves to manage separate Google accounts for purposes of school collaboration. Below are two examples of the collaboration capabilities offered by Google.

Collaboration Settings in Google Classroom; Source: Screenshot by Lauren Borrero

With Google Classroom, teachers have the option to assign files from Google Drive that can be edited by the entire class, select students, or groups of students. This is a wonderful tool for differentiation, but also quite effective when distributing files for digital collaboration since the entire group can work on the file at the same time. This can be accomplished without Classroom by having students share a file with one-another. However, utilizing this strategy within Classroom makes the collection of student work and the feedback process more streamlined when compared to receiving separate emails from various groups.

Sample Student Collaboration in Google Docs; Source: Mousigia [CC BY-SA 4.0] via Wikimedia Commons

In addition to being able to edit a Doc, Slide, or Sheet at the same time, students can utilize the comment feature to share information, make suggestions, and plan next steps. This feature is especially useful for group projects with many moving parts. Students might utililize a comment to update the group on their progress. That student would then get an email notification when others reply to him/her.

Two helpful hints when using Google’s comment feature: The keyboard shortcut to add a comment is Ctl+Alt+M. You can tag individuals in your comments by using @[Google email].

Evidence: Applying Active Learning and Blended Learning Principles to Professional Development

Jeffrey Anderson [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

It’s exciting to consider the possibilities for communication and collaboration that exist for students thanks to technology. Those same great ideas can also be applied to adult learning with success.

Passive learning through lectures, reading from assigned texts, or outlining content are still prevalent in higher education and teacher trainings despite evidence that supports active learning: “Long-term retention, understanding, and transfer is result of mental work on the part of learners who are engaged in active sense-making and knowledge construction … learning environments are most effective when they elicit effortful cognitive processing from learners and guide them in constructing meaningful relationships between ideas rather than encouraging passive recording of information.” (Lynch, 2017)

According to educational researcher Dr. Jay Lynch, three of the most powerful ways to incorporate active learning into instruction include production of ideas over passive collection, integration of new knowledge with existing knowledge, and frequent opportunities to engage with new content.

So what might this look like on a practical level when introducing a new tool or platform? In researching possible answers to this question, I discovered the ITPD3 Framework as introduced at the 2015 ISTE Conference by Dr. Cynthia Vavasseur, Sara Dempster, and Cammie Claytor.

For more on the ITPD3 Framework and how it supports active learning in professional development, please use the link below to access my blog post.