The best blended learning tools will depend on each district and school’s situation as well as their LMS integrations, says Sherri Powell, an education specialist with the publishing and digital learning department of the Region 4 Education Service Center (ESC) in Texas.
But with that caveat firmly in place, Powell does have some favorite sites and platforms in general for blended learning that could be a good fit for specific districts and situations. And she speaks from a wealth of experience. Region 4 serves 80-plus school districts and charters and some 1.2 million students, and Powell’s department recently receive a blended learning grant from the Charles Butt Foundation. Powell was also recently honored with the Best Implementation of Digital Curriculum during the Tech & Learning Regional Leadership Summit in Philadelphia.
Here are some of her favorite tools for blended learning.
Nearpod is a digital learning platform that features interactive lessons, assessment tools, and gamified learning activities. As such, it is a perfect tool for blended learning.
“They have tons of publishers and lessons already ready-made,” Powell says. The tool also has been building its video features. “Nearpod has an edit video feature where they can watch videos, pause, post questions, things like that.”
If video editing is the focus of your blended learning efforts, Edpuzzle is a must-use and offers teachers robust abilities to add questions, comments, and interactions with videos.
“Edpuzzle is based around watching videos, pausing, checking on understanding, things like that,” Powell says. These features lend themselves well to blended learning as embedded video questions allow students to be active and engaged while learning from video.
One of Powell’s favorite tools for blended learning is Flip, a free Microsoft app that facilitates teachers as they create online groups for students to gather in and share their ideas in short videos, texts, and/or audio messages.
Tech & Learning’s review of Flip praised its ability “To help with group discussions but in a way that doesn't leave any student on the spot.”
Powell recommends this digital portfolio tool that is designed to make it easy for students to share work they have done in various media all in one place, digitally. This is good both for blended learning and more traditional modes of instruction.
Tech & Learning’s review of Wakelet notes, “If you think of a media feed on something such as Pinterest, that's a little what Wakelet feels like -- a recognizable platform for students that can make sharing a mix of digital content easy.”
“Bulb is a portfolio digital tool. I think it’s a good tool for students to track their learning and to archive from the beginning through the end of the year things they’re working on,” Powell says.
Though designed for use beyond education, Bulb also offers many templates specifically designed for education, and therefore is perfect for blended learning and other education applications.
An interactive learning tool designed for pre-K through 5th grade, Seesaw is the perfect tool to introduce younger students to blended learning, Powell says.
“It’s for that younger generation of students our pre-k through 5 grade but I see it more so in pre-k to maybe the second grade,” she says. “The beauty behind Seesaw is the parents have access so they can help their littles at home.”