Saturday, January 10, 2009

Learning to Walk

First Steps

I am reminded of my 5 children as they each learned to walk. At first they worked on standing and shuffling along the length of a table or couch, then they tried to venture forth without the aid of the furniture which often involved some surely frustrating 'crash and burn' experiences but with continued efforts were able to make it across the room safely. Now, I would consider them all expert walkers. In fact, they can even jump, run, play soccer, and ride bicycles! However, as we are all aware, even the most elite of athletes still have their share of 'crash and burn' moments. My children are no different. I am no different. I have been walking for over three decades and I still get tripped up from time to time. Hopefully we figure out where things went wrong and make the corrections. Hybrid learning is no different.

A Walk Down the Virtual Path

When we get started with trying to deliver our curriculum using technology, we should be as toddlers who work to stand, shuffle, and finally make walking look easy. As with learning to walk, making the transition to hybrid learning will take some time and there will be some 'crash and burn' moments but with continued efforts we can and will succeed in this as well. Even the most elite of teachers using technology have their share of 'crash and burn' moments. I am no different. You are no different. Hopefully, we can figure out where things went wrong and make the corrections. This is learning.

Getting Started

OK, so it is time to start experimenting with hybrid learning. Here are some things you may want to consider...

1. What kinds of tools do I have at my disposal?

  • Check with your district technology team to find out what kinds of software might be available within the district for you to use. You should also ask permission before downloading and installing new and unfamiliar software.

  • Check with the educational service agency for your school to find out if they have any resources available.

  • These contacts may also be able to provide you with good information on many free resources and tools that can be found on the internet.

  • Scan some blog sites (like this one) :) for helpful tools, tips, and tricks.

  • Ask some fellow teachers what they might have for ideas.

  • Talk with your principal about any potential budget money that could be used to make a purchase.

2. Try one new thing at a time

  • Don't expect to convert an entire course overnight or in a week for that matter. "Mile by mile, it takes a while but inch by inch, its a cinch." Make small progressive steps towards your goals.

  • Build up your level of comfort with the technology before diving in with the whole class. Understanding the interface and available functions so that you are able to assist students with questions easily will save a lot of time and stress in the long run.

  • There will undoubtedly be some tools that work for you and others that don't. Test them out individually and continue to use the ones that work well with your lessons.

3. Modify an existing lesson rather than create a new one

  • Taking part of a lesson and transferring pieces of it to an online format will be much faster and less stressful.

  • Have students use a discussion forum, create a wiki, or collaborate on a presentation online rather than having a Q&A session or making simple powerpoints.

4. Don't give up!

  • You will have some things that you try which just don't work. Try a different tool for the job, maybe it will work better. Not all tools are created equal.

  • Have a vision for what you want to accomplish with technology and remain steadfast in reaching it.

  • It is OK to ask for help. There is always someone that is willing to help you succeed.

  • Continue to build your hybrid learning toolbox. Take a course, be inquisitive, take initiative.

  • Learn from your mistakes. Make the corrections. That is how we learn, right? It is OK to make mistakes. Do not be afraid to take a risk and try something new.

Are you learning to walk or are you already running? What have you done to start learning to walk? I look forward to your thoughts.

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