Will it blend?! Exploring blended learning…

The-rise-of-K-12-blended-learningRecently I’ve been exploring the concept of blended learning thanks to one of the courses I’m taking at the UCL Institute of Education. One of the papers I was introduced to was ‘The Rise of K-12 Blended Learning‘ (2011) by Michael Horn and Heather Staker. Before reading this paper I had an idea that blended learning was literally blending different teaching styles and activities together and mixing it up with technology, however blended learning is not the same as technology-rich instruction. The term blended learning refers to a specific pedagogy where part of the course is delivered in the classroom and part delivered outside of the classroom environment using technology.

“Blended learning is a formal education program in which a student learns at least in part through online learning with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace and at least in part at a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home.” (Is K-12 Blended Learning Disruptive, Christensen, Horn and Staker, 2013, p7)

Is-K-12-blended-learning-disruptiveThis paper is brilliant – not only in its clear, easy to read and digest format – but in its categorising of blended learning, giving a vocabulary to identify and describe practice


Mindshift – Great Professional Learning

Mindshift LogoI love the website MindShift. “MindShift explores the future of learning in all its dimensions. We examine how learning is being impacted by technology, discoveries about how the brain works, poverty and inequities, social and emotional practices, assessments, digital games, design thinking and music, among many other topics.”

MindShift is a wonderful resource for professional learning. If you’ve not found MineShift yet make it one of your goals to visit and explore in 2016! Follow MindShift on Twitter (@MindShiftKQED) or subscribe via email and you will find new articles and resources from their wealth of brilliant writers and commentators. By reading an article or two each week and taking time to think about and explore the topic in more detail you will expand your knowledge of contemporary educational issues and grow as an educator, no matter if you’ve been doing it for 3 weeks or 30 years!

Sometimes it’s an article that articulates just what you’ve been thinking, or something that provokes you to think deeper about an issue. They are easy to share with colleagues and will ensure that you keep learning about learning!

Bay CuriousInteresting Find! – MindShift works in collaboration with KQED, Public Media for … Read more...

Pendulum Waves and Metronome Sways

Pendulum Waves and Metronome Sways

Two really cool things that got my curiosity going recently…

Pendulum Waves
This I saw at the science centre in Newcastle in the ‘Do Try This At Home’ show using pots and pans. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever, ever seen! The whole audience was spellbound. I’ve made it a project to create one in the garden with tennis balls… Here is a video of the same experiment – keep watching!

“Fifteen uncoupled simple pendulums of monotonically increasing lengths dance together to produce visual traveling waves, standing waves, beating, and (seemingly) random motion.” Harvard Natural Science Lecture Demonstrations

Then searching around for instructions on how to set one up I saw that someone had created a pendulum wave with bowling balls – and hooked it up so the balls hit tubes and created sounds!! Brilliant!

Metronome Sways
Chatting about the pendulum wave to my colleague Martyn, he told me about the metronome synchronisation experiment. This is super cool – metronomes placed on a foam platform and set off at random eventually end up ticking at the same time. Amazing. This led to all sorts of conversations with scientific family members about buildings and bridges… … Read more...

Thinking Differently – Encouraging Curiosity

Thinking Differently – Encouraging Curiosity

This afternoon I was able to hear Nigel Barlow speak about thinking differently, challenging assumptions and encouraging curiosity. To encourage our curiosity and return to our childlike state of inquisitiveness it was inspiring to hear Nigel use the phrase ‘Be a Beginner’. The saying goes,

“In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities. In the expert’s there are few.” (Shunryu Suzuki)

BeachThe beginner’s mind is open to new ideas, has a keenness to explore and learn and, as was grow older and acquire more knowledge, the awareness to avoid preconceived ideas and stereotypes. Reading more about the beginner’s mind led me to the term the ‘curse of knowledge’, where you know so much about a subject or problem that you can’t see it from the perspective of someone who knows less – something we must be acutely aware of when teaching others.

It can take a certain amount of confidence and courage to be able to stand back and ask the questions that you may have once thought you should know the answers to already, or to roll your sleeves up and throw yourself in to a new experience, but when you can do that and see things and ask … Read more...

On hard fun and flow

I had the pleasure of hearing Bill Rankin this week – the Director of Learning at Apple. He was talking to a group of educators about the learning ecosystem, about how we are no more about imparting knowledge but encouraging learning. That when we teach, we learn. That we need to always be making productive connections with our students and communities, and that it is not a one-way process, it’s a rich structure of people and places, things and technology.
Bill talked about ‘hard fun’ and had a great example of this. If you enjoy Sudoku, would you rather do this puzzle –
Easy Sudoku puzzle
or this one?
Hard sudoku puzzle
You guessed it, the second. Thinking about this ‘hard fun’, he introduced us to Muhaly Csikszentmihalyi’s psychology of optimal experience and the concept of ‘flow’. Csikszentmihályi describes flow as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” 
Flow Model
Recently I’ve experienced a state of flow when learning to play tennis – an hour felt like one minute and I … Read more...