SMARTER SCHOOLS | by Michael Spencer
With (or without) an impending Android Tablet boom—blended learning should address these key education issue areas.
Many of our students simply don’t get the individually focused, flexible learning they truly need in what we call traditional classrooms. Parents, educators and school leaders who choose a blended learning environment understand the
importance of an individualized education. In parallel, with the android tablet market heating up and prices coming down—true individualized and personalized learning is increasingly possible as we begin to see 1-to-1 mobile computing solutions being used in more schools and across more campuses. Following are five areas of study that are well-suited for a blended learning environment and can help a student succeed in life.
1. Supplemental Education. Schools are struggling to keep up with quality, cost-effective course options for their students. Advanced Placement or Honors-type courses, courses students are interested in to explore a future career, or courses that simply don’t fit into a student’s schedule are all reasons why more high schools are choosing to virtualize their offerings.
2. Reading Programs. These will always be a fundamental part of any type of education. Properly done, reading instruction can rapidly open the doors to all of education—math, science, history, and so on. For beginners, phonics-based programs are essential. Some get it faster than others and can move on, but it’s a basic starting point for any student.
3. Summer School. While there are conflicting claims as to why we even have summer vacation, we do know that year-round schools and other schedule variations are now more frequent. Education continues long after an arbitrary schedule and students can take advantage of learning offered during nontraditional times.
4. Languages. Besides English-language natives, many people also speak English as their second language. Properly taught, and taught early enough, kids love learning other languages, and in the process they learn English better and they naturally impress the people they deal with in cultural and eventually business contexts. Technology tools make it very easy to hear, translate, pronounce and generally learn any language, and instantly connect with the people who speak it.
5. Credit Recovery. This is a key area when it comes to blended (in-class and online) learning. Scheduling conflicts and standard life issues that inevitably arise can actually prevent graduating on time, which adds stress to an already stressful time. In other cases, a student needs to make up a course they did poorly in, no matter whether graduation hinges upon it. The flexibility provided by the accessibility and credit a student can recover in a school-approved online course can help both students and parents breathe a lot easier.
There are certainly more areas that could be on this list. I am curious to know what areas you might have on the top of your mind that were not include here. Consider blended learning environments, new mobile 1:1 computing technologies and the emerging android tablet market—and let me know what you think.
Engaging, individualized learning that meets a student’s needs—learning that’s personalized and brings real meaning to a student’s life—is what education solutions are trending toward. And these days, it’s getting a lot easier to provide that. Looking forward to hearing from you!
Michael Spencer is senior vice president of American Education Corporation. An education and technology industry veteran, he is the former president and founder of One2OneMate and several other Silicon Valley startups all of which have received multiple awards for innovation and product development. His expertise spans from advocating for one-to-one, mobile and blended learning environments where tailored tools providing individualized education are key to student performance and achievement—to the international front, where Michael is fluent in Spanish and has worked with European and Latin American governments and school systems to bring about 21st-century educational reforms. He has traveled extensively and enjoys the entrepreneurial side of business. He is a regular columnist for EdTech Digest, where he writes a column on creating Smarter Schools.