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Using the Blended Learning Approach

Dr. NafieToday's students learn in ways that are very different from the ways their teachers and parents were taught not that many years ago.  The primary reason, of course, is the impact of technology on our lives.  Most people in America have access to gadgets of one sort or another, from cell phones, to laptops, to full-spectrum computers, to GPS-guided maps, and everything in-between.  And at Clairbourn, students experience learning spaces loaded with interactive SmartBoards, computers, laptops, iPads, touch screen monitors, and more all designed to enhance their educational experience.

We all know how these technological advancements have changed our lives, but how have they changed the modern student, and in what ways are educators adapting their teaching styles to improve student performance?  Research being conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) gives some insight into why a blended use of technology in modern classrooms offers the best way to maximize the skills of today's young people.

To begin with, we must remember that the American classroom remained largely unchanged for more than seventy-five years.  Course content was essentially delivered by lecture to students who were required to listen passively and recite what they had learned when called upon.  Dr. Sanjay Sarma, Director of Digital Learning at MIT says, "[Students] are increasingly unwilling or unable to pay attention throughout a lesson and are more used to shorter bursts of on-screen learning. The way we teach today is based on lectures, which is still a factory-style system."

Most adults and even many students now make use of short, instructive video clips.  We watch them on You Tube and other video platforms.  They cover a wide range of subjects and offer the chance to put what we learn into immediate practice.  Students learn in much the same way.  The sooner we can make use of what we've learned, the more likely we are to retain that knowledge.  What we just heard transfers from our short-term memory into our long-term memory.  Professor Sarma reports that students absorb knowledge better when they can access information, "...when they need it. You can’t do a ten-minute lecture in real life but you can certainly do [one] online."

Clairbourn classrooms make use of both physical and electronic teaching tools.  Blending our teaching and learning approaches allows the teacher to select the type of learning channel that best reaches the student(s).  Use of electronic resources such as those found on the Clairbourn Library website, www.clairbourn.org/library, allow teachers, students, and parents, to reinforce in-class learning with appropriate electronic media.  We also make use of popular online content channels such as You Tube, Khan Academy, TED Talks, and a whole range of video clips on specific concepts.  When made available to professionally trained teachers, who come to know the individual needs and learning styles of their students, the best results become possible.

Exclusive reliance on electronic media can lead students to have a "Swiss cheese" fund of knowledge, where significant holes and gaps make integrated learning difficult.  On the other hand, dry, dull, endless lessons work in the exact opposite direction of how student currently learn.  Blended learning is just one of the many ways that Clairbourn teachers are reaching their students today and  making sure we prepare students for their future.

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Robert W. Nafie, Ph. D.
Head of School

Clairbourn School Provides Private School Education for Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary School, and Middle School Grades | Serving Families in the Pasadena, California, Area and Surrounding Cities (K-12 Private Schools) | Clairbourn is a 501(c)3 charitable organization.Click here to request information.

Posted on: 1/29/2015 12:34 PMComments (0)

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