Today I was lucky enough to participate in a live professional development session with other Connecticut Association of Independent School Educators related to Online and Blended Learning. This PD was led by Brad Rathberger and Lorri Palko from the Online School for Girls. Today’s session was part of a year long online course looking at how online and blended learning as a place to expand learning for independent schools.
Learning today is ever changing with initiatives coming from the tech world, from policy makers, from global initiatives, from learners themselves. We have come so far from the one room school house to learning occurring with walls and bells, to the idea that learning can occur without consideration for time and space. It is happening so fast and furiously that there are many responses: jump on the band wagon, consider, reflect and go, and dig heels in and don’t change. There are many areas in between, but it gives thought to what is truly best for students.
With all the discussions that happen in education, it really needs to come back to the learners we are trying to engage and provide for. What I came away with today is there are no direct answers, but there shouldn’t be. However, as educators, we should be looking at all options that exist to engage students in learning, and if there is an opportunity we cannot provide in the brick and mortar environment, then we should not be afraid to explore and engage in learning that is beyond the realm of the traditional classroom. How amazing is it that students can explore interests and abilities that may not be able to be engage in due to restraints of staff and schedules?
Educators need to not jump on the band wagon, but also not discount the possibilities that can exist in online spaces, and connecting with students and educators across the country and the globe. As an educator focusing on areas of learning differences, you would think this idea would be one to avoid, but we are always open to to new tips and tricks to address students learning needs. (Stay tuned for Part 2) I would empower all educators who are hesitant to even consider the idea that learning can occur in ways that may make us uncomfortable, but will engage our students in ways we may never have considered, to stop and at least listen to the ideas for learning that can exist. It is not right for all, but what education is?