The Art of Student Independence in Blended Learning

Contributed By

Cyndi Amaya

Contributing Writer

The Art of Student Independence in Blended Learning

Posted in Community | April 28, 2016

When you think of school, it’s hard not to imagine a chalkboard at the front of a classroom lined with rows of desks. Slowly, that image of a traditional classroom setting is shifting towards computer screens outside of classroom walls.

In the Downingtown Area School District in Pennsylvania, teachers are transforming the “traditional” into the technological. According to Cyber and Blended Learning Coordinator, Kristie Burk, they're using the technology to change the traditional idea of "what high school should be."

Changing It Up

The Downingtown Area School District decided to take learning outside of the classroom and instead put it in the hands of the learners through their blended learning program. Having started training staff a full year before, Kristie taught the mechanics of blended learning by blending her professional development and leading through example.

Once they were ready, instructors shortened the conventional classroom setting of face-to-face learning to only 50%, having students spend the other half online in Schoology at a time and place that is convenient for them. This approach has proven to be beneficial to the students on multiples fronts.

As Kristie explains, "This created flexibility in the schedule, gave the students more freedom in when and where they did their work, and made school less stressful for students."

The New Normal

Student-teacher interaction is vital to learning, and teachers at Downingtown rely on Schoology to offer numerous dimensions to that interaction. Although the district will take some time to acclimate to the new norm, Kristie feels optimistic about their expanding use of Schoology in their curriculum.

"We started from scratch last year and we now have roughly 1,000 students taking at least one blended class next year!" Kristie exclaims. The pixilated future of Downingtown Area Schools certainly looks bright!

Kristie Burk
Cyber and Blended Learning Coordinator
Downingtown Area School District
Educator of the Year Finalist

Written by Cyndi Amaya

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