What is blended learning and why is it important?
Broadly speaking, blended learning means there is a mix of online and in-person learning At ICS we have been using blended learning or a version of blended learning for quite some time. However, with the COVID pandemic continuing to impact education, and the realities of living in Ethiopia means that political instability can affect our ability to come to school at any time, we have made a deliberate and designed shift to institutionalize blended learning at ICS.
We have developed a schoolwide definition of blended learning which is adopted from a well-known and highly talented Californian educator, Caitlin Tucker, who defines it as “a formal education program in which a student is engaged in active learning at least in part online where they have some control over the time, place, and/or pace and in part at a brick and mortar location away from home."
In the ICS context, blended learning is the seamless transition between an on-campus learning experience to an online learning experience, leveraging digital tools and providing opportunities for students to personalize their learning. It is a type of multichannel method that incorporates teacher-led and student-led activities, videos, digital tasks, and face-to-face discussions while giving students some agency and control over their timing, place, and pace of learning.
“It gives us opportunities to personalize their learning and differentiate their content. There are several different ways for teachers to present content to students and students are able to work with teachers to deepen their understanding and have conversations to challenge their thinking, as opposed to teachers being the one who delivers the content.” - Holly Reardon, Executive Director of Learning
Blended learning also supports being a highly effective and learning progressive school by allowing classes to integrate online with face to face activities and giving access to the same information. Teachers are able to combine instructional methodologies to create a harmonious learning and working environment either in person or online. Having students in different learning environments further encourages teachers to individualize their approach with students.
‘It’s about equity and fairness. We want the approach and template of learning to be common throughout the divisions so that the parent or child trying to navigate the learning knows exactly where to go for the information, where the standard is, and what the learning target is.” - Dr. Tim Stuart, Head of School