Believe it or not, the question “Should computers be in classrooms?” used to be a hot topic. To be fair, the particulars were legitimate: How do you cram those giant monitors onto desks? Where do you plug them in? How do you manage all those 5 1/4-inch floppy disks?
But that was last century. Thanks to the constant evolution of hardware and the incredible advancement of wireless and Internet technologies, we don’t talk about that anymore. Instead, we tackle how best to use these fantastic tools. For this month’s cover story, Stir It Up, contributing editor Ellen Ullman spans the country for best practices in blended learning. From Farmington NM, to Colorado Springs CO, to Lancaster TX, administrators, faculty, and students have taken edtech to the next level. Software is embedded into curriculum (and sometimes vice versa.) Lesson plans are dropped into learning management systems and shared over the Web. Students work remotely and then gather face-to-face to do lab work.
The most exciting thing for me when I read these stories is that for students all these advancements are second nature. As Google Education Evangelist Jaime Casap likes to remind us, these technologies are the most basic that these kids will ever know. These are their green-screen Apple 2IIes. It won’t be long before we won’t distinguish “blended learning” from plain old learning.
Sure, there are still some troublesome issues with which to wrestle—data privacy, cyberbullying, screen addiction, to name a few. But IMHO, the pros far outweigh the cons. Besides, much like the question of computers in the classroom, I don’t think we really have a choice.
— Kevin Hogan