Each year Fuel Education partners with EdNET Insight to conduct a nationwide survey to understand best practices in implementing online and blended learning. This year’s survey, to be published in the fall, once again has “teachers available to intervene/assist students in a timely manner” as one of the highest rated attributes of a successful online or blended program.
While some may be concerned that the teacher’s role is diminished in an online learning environment, this is simply not the case when you examine successful implementations. It was clear from the respondents to the survey that educators are central to successful learning, which is a sentiment shared by Joel Smith, an eLearning Facilitator at Spring Branch Independent School District in Texas.
Mr. Smith says that it is critical that teachers be properly trained in delivering online and blended learning instruction. Additionally, Mr. Smith asserts, “Making the jump from a traditional classroom to a robust online platform requires outside work and an additional investment of the teacher’s time to be successful.” Smith identified four stages that a teacher will likely experience as they make this transition.
1. Sage on the Stage:
In this stage the teacher takes on traditional lecture-style teaching and hasn’t yet implemented any online or blended learning strategies.
2. Stranger in a Strange Land:
Next, the teacher becomes a Stranger in a Strange Land, as instruction moves to the computer, and the computer becomes the primary instructional tool. At this stage, the teacher is still unsure of how they fit in but is experimenting with and utilizing online tools to enhance instruction.
As the teacher continues to evolve, they enter the Resource stage, and while the computer is still the primary instructional tool, the teacher is comfortable being a resource, answering questions and re-teaching when asked.
4. Facilitator and Initiator of Interventions:
Once the teacher has fully evolved into a robust online teaching facilitator, he or she enters the Facilitator and Initiator of Interventions stage. It is at this point that the teacher begins to anticipate where students will have trouble and will intervene by initiating small-group workshops.
The journey from Sage on the Stage to Facilitator is rewarding not just for the student but also for the teacher. Often teachers feel more engaged with individual students in an online or blended learning environment, taking less time to teach to the entire class and more time in one-on-one and small group instruction. As one respondent to the survey commented, “Teachers are the biggest factor to successful implementation of blended learning. If they are open and willing, then it can be successful.”