Back to School with Blended Learning: How Administrators Can Prepare

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Although it happens every year, going back to school doesn’t seem to get any easier. You’re coming off of vacation mode, booting back up to face colleagues and students, and nowadays, learning about new technological advances in the education market. A big part of the way that technology is incorporated is through blended learning classroom models, which combine face-to-face learning, hands-on activities, and online instruction. It is just as important to plan for back to school in the online and blended learning setting as it is to plan for the traditional setting. So as an administrator, how can you prepare for the best back-to-school season in your blended learning classrooms?

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Collaborative Learning Matters

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In early 2001, Steve Jobs, then the CEO of Apple, summoned a motley crew of employees and contractors to meet in a secret boardroom. Jobs tasked the team with an ambitious assignment: create a new MP3 player in six weeks. By all accounts, the group should have failed. The timeline to complete the project was unrealistically short and the team consisted of five engineering, marketing, and design executives who all had strong, competing views about how to develop the product.

But against all odds, the group was able to capitalize on one another’s unique skill sets, allowing ideas and perspectives to emerge that had never been combined before. The result was the innovative iPod that ultimately changed the face of technology and the music industry. Read More

Top New Books for Educators: See What’s Coming out in August

Top New Books for Educators

Here are some of August’s top new books for educators:

New Books for Educators: Blending Leadership

Blending Leadership: Six Simple Beliefs for Leading Online and Off
Stephen J. Valentine, Dr. Reshan Richards, Brad Ovenell-Carter

Blending Leadership provides all school leaders with a unique approach to utilizing technology for more effective learning and leadership. As the online aspects of schools become just as important as their brick-and-mortar counterparts, leaders must be as effective screen-to-screen as they are face-to-face. Drawing from research, experience, and real-world examples, this book explores and unpacks six core beliefs necessary for the blended leader to succeed.

Between email, websites, apps, updates, tweets, attachments, infographics, YouTube, and unceasing notifications, most people are inundated with digital detritus, and they either grow to ignore it or get swept under it. Effective blended leaders see these distractions as spurs to action, models, test cases, remixable commodities, and learning opportunities. Blending Leadership gives you the perspective you need to excel and the knowledge to leverage the tools at your disposal.

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For Online Learning, One Size Won’t Always Fit All

Teacher helping student in blended learning classroom

After some recent visits with educators in Texas, I remain struck by how diverse and increasingly complex the growing online learning landscape is becoming. Within districts I visited, it was common for multiple online implementations to be underway—each with its own set of distinct instructional objectives to be addressed. And the underlying commonality to success was clear: delivering effective online instruction in such a dynamic and multifaceted landscape requires close coordination of many moving pieces—administrators, teachers, hardware, software, labs, and more. Read More

Maximizing Critical Thinking with Technology

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Results from the latest Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) set off alarm bells in when it revealed that US high school students lacked critical thinking skills.. The test, designed to measure the capacity for fifteen-year-old students to apply reading, mathematics, and science knowledge to real-world settings, found that American students ranked thirty-first in math, twenty-fourth in science, and twenty-first in reading, in a comparison with students from sixty-five other countries. These findings indicated not only that American students struggled to recall rote procedures and facts, but also that they had trouble analyzing, reasoning, and communicating effectively as they solved or interpreted problems.

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