Fixing the Roof While the Sun Shines: Should we be Teaching Blended Learning?

Apparently, both John F Kennedy and Adam Boxer share a philosophy on weather-related domestic maintenance – or at least, in their intent to fix the roof while the sun is shining when it comes to blended learning, hybrid environments and the lessons we’ve learned during the pandemic.

While a lot of the technological solutions now appear to be embedded or removed from teaching practice, we’ve probably learned more about what works (and what doesn’t) in delivery of online and blended learning in the last two years than ever before. A number of excellent reports and publications have emerged – I was part of the focus group discussions for this excellent piece from the Chartered College of Teaching (Muller & Goldenberg, 2021), for example – and we have a strong sense of contextual, anecdotal and evidence-informed direction to build upon.

I think it’s inevitable that we’ll have more blended learning in our future. Whether it’s more waves of COVID – and let’s hope it’s not – or just taking a more flexible approach to delivery of learning, I don’t think the challenges of becoming a ‘good online teacher’ are past us. I think we’ll have far more expectation of blended learning? Of accessible resources for students who are ill? I can’t imagine we’ll ever have “snow days” again, for example!  

So, here’s my roof reflection.

Should we be actively training teachers on how to do it? We’ve assumed that a lot of teacher training and instructional principles ‘can be applied’ to the online environment; and that’s partly true – but I don’t know if anyone has ever explicitly been taught how to teach lessons and sessions online as a deliberate exercise in part of their initial teaching career.

Should we be doing that? Should every teacher have at least a brief exposure to some of the ideas of online principles, and some idea of some of the platforms, before they join a school?

All thoughts and ideas welcomed… and any roofers gratefully acknowledged!

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