Thomas A. Edison
Blended Learning is still a relatively new concept, you will make mistakes during your implementation process. The important thing is to use these mistakes to learn and to grow a successful program.
“Embrace a culture of making and learning from your own mistakes.”
Ten Mistakes often made when implementing blended learning:
1. Deciding to pilot blended learning, rather than deciding to solve an instructional problem using blended learning.
Stay focused on the instructional problem blended learning is being used to solve. Blended learning should be used to support good instruction, focusing on changing the instruction will improve student achievement.
2. Not managing teacher expectations about what the software could do.
Do not assume technology will be caught up to what you want, and need it to do. When you understand what you need out of a software, relentlessly question the provider to ensure you are getting what you want and need. Manage your educator’s expectations by not promising anything until it actually arrives.
3. Paying quoted software prices.
Everything is negotiable. Build relationships and partnerships with companies you respect and have done business with in the past, talk with other blended learning sites you may have relationships with to ask what they are paying for software. You can use these relationships to leverage better costs for yourself. Have all software contracts go through one area of your program such as the home office or purchasing department, this will allow you to leverage district pricing whenever possible.
4. Not creating pilot agreements and paying stipends to educators during the first year of implementation for each educator.
It is frustrating to have educators pilot a program, assume they will remember what they learned, and then spend the second year re-teaching what they had learned. Share pilot agreements with all educators at the initial rollout and in the blended learning training whether they pilot the first year or the second. Going blended is time consuming and creates extra work for educators in their first year of the work, for this reason, it is important to stipend all blended educators whether they implement their first year or second.
5. Not building strong relationships with your IT team.
Communication is key. The IT team and the blended learning educators need to have an ongoing dialogue. If educators share problems with only each other or only with IT and not with each other, there is a breakdown in the communication loop, creating frustration for all parties involved. An easy way to solve this is to hold regular meetings between the IT team and the blended learning educators so everyone is on the same page and can work together to solve any issues that should arise.
6. Assuming blended learning can be up and running in just a few months.
Getting this work off the ground requires a lot of teamwork, and many decisions directly impact other decisions on the time line. Assume everything from securing funding to having furniture delivered will take twice as long as you need it to. Allow 8-10 months to get a blended learning program off the ground. If you have, and can allow more time, do so.
7. Assuming you’ll be able to clearly see learner achievement impact of blended learning software.
It is near impossible to separate the impact of software from the impact of increased small-group instruction. What is known for sure is that when learners get additional small-group targeted instruction from educators, the data will show achievement goes up. The best way for educators to allow more small group time is to implement blended learning into the classroom.
8. Assuming blended learning can make up for an educator’s mediocre classroom management.
Blended learning amplifies everything in the classroom. If an educator does a poor job managing the classroom, it will be worse with learners on computers. As in a traditional classroom, educators need to create tight routines and procedures and there needs to be consequences when these routines are not followed.
9. Not engaging other education leaders, like education specialists and instructional coaches, from the very beginning.
This is the same concept as working together with the IT Team. The more educators involved in, and supporting the blended learning process, the more impact it will have on the learners. Engage the specialists as partners in this work so they can learn about blended learning from their respective positions and improve the program even more by adding their expertise.
10. Not upgrading the entire school infrastructure before starting blended learning.
Although budget constraints can be an issue, in the long run it will cost less to upgrade the entire system from the start. Not upgrading the system from the start can create educator frustration due to a slow network and a great deal of frustration for the IT department trying to trouble shoot problems.