Beth Holland

Food for thought…

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Are We Innovating, or Just Digitizing Traditional Teaching?

I didn’t write this blog title. The editor at Edutopia changed mine before publishing my latest article. Originally, I thought that I wanted to discuss the promise and the peril of blended learning. However, I am thankful that he had a better idea.

Admittedly, this post began as a rant against blended learning. Not the effective version as described by the tremendous educators in Bellevue, Nebraska whom I feature in this post, but the “I regularly put digital versions of analog assignments on ___ (insert platform name) and then collected them back” kind.

True blended learning affords students not only the opportunity to gain both content and instruction via online as well as traditional classroom means, but also an element of authority over this process. With students freed from the confines of the school day, the walls of the classroom, the sole expertise of the teacher, and the pace of the rest of the class, blended learning could fundamentally change the system and structure of school.

And yet, as illustrated by the varying perspectives of what constitutes blended learning lies the issue that I am really wrestling with: how to create a vision for innovation. For my dissertation, I am looking at how to scale up change, more specifically, how to help districts expand the pockets of innovative teaching within classrooms and buildings to the rest of their ecosystem. As I think more and more about this, the real challenge may lie in first helping districts to recognize innovation versus digitization.


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“Pocket is the New Backpack”

I can’t take credit for that fantastic headline, but thought that I would share it – especially in light of a recent blog post that I wrote both here and on the EdTechTeacher blog – The Mobilization of Research. Recently, I discovered Study Blue, an online note-taking service. They have now launched an iOS/Android app for their products. Their video, posted below, will give you an idea of the power of digital note cards. Instead of attempting to learn from scrawled notes on an index card, students can now combine audio, images, and text to support their learning. Pocket is the new backpack┬ámay be an understatement.