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The term blended learning has become a hot topic in the education world, but what does it actually mean? And how does it affect a typical classroom teacher? The practical application is a bit more complicated than you may think. At its core, blended learning is about rethinking how a classroom is structured, how time is used, and how resources are allocated. It involves combining various approaches to instruction with the use of educational technology. In blended learning, technology is used to serve multiple learning styles or needs, engage learners, prepare students for life after school, and bring the brick-and-mortar classroom into the 21st century.

Classroom teachers have sought similar goals for years and have been incorporating resources to achieve the same outcomes.

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  • Create a 21st Century Classroom.

With the advent of technology and the ease of access that it affords, the unique environment for blended learning can be more easily and successfully created. We now are offering names for the various models, such as rotation, flex, self-blend, enriched-virtual, and subcategories of these. Whether referred to as blended, hybrid, or mixed learning, this type of education is a process where technology and instruction inform each other as a complementary approach.

Student-centered learning

For decades, a traditional classroom has involved one teacher for ten or more students, and by necessity, teachers are limited in how much time they can spend with each student one on one. The model has been limited by sheer numbers up to this point. The pace of instruction must continue at an average speed.

Teachers have been teaching to the middle, which can be too fast for some learners and too slow for others. In a traditional classroom, it can be difficult for teachers to determine exactly how well each student knows a particular concept because they are responsible for so many students and so many concepts.

Now, technology is available to support teachers and allow them to individualize instruction. Programs can gather data, engage students, and maintain instruction while the teacher facilitates and provides one-to-one support for unique learning styles. She may be a Visual learner. Does Jeremy seem to grasp the material best by listening to lectures, asking questions and participating in group discussions?

He may be an Auditory learner. Do Max and Emily prefer to gather information by reading, taking notes and writing reports or essays?

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And what about Dylan? She is very hands-on, and seems to enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together — to learn by doing. She may be a Kinesthetic learner. One of the first lessons you learn when researching learning styles is that there are many different theories. These are:. The idea behind multiple intelligence theories is not that people learn in only one way, but that people are stronger in different areas and can demonstrate their knowledge and abilities in different ways.

For teachers, being attuned to such distinctions can be helpful in understanding how to best connect with individual students. There are two main buckets that most teaching styles fall into: teacher centered or student centered.

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The teacher-centered approach to education positions the teacher as the expert who is in charge of imparting knowledge to his or her students via lectures or direct instruction. And as educators learn more about effective ways to engage learners of every style, the teacher-centered approach is looked upon less fondly than it once was.

Help Your Teachers Create 21st Century Classrooms | EDU

However, there are also countless examples of students being challenged and transformed by a teacher or professor lecturing about a subject they have spent their entire life exploring. The student-centered approach creates more equanimity between the teacher and student, with each playing a role in the learning process. While the teacher still holds authority, he or she is more likely to act as a facilitator, coaching students and assisting them in their learning.

This approach champions student choice and facilitates connections among students. Apps supporting student-centered learning Get engaging apps that work seamlessly within the Microsoft Education ecosystem and empower every student to achieve more. Accessibility features Encourage inclusion and level the playing field with powerful accessibility features in Windows 10 and Office Ease of access settings Make your computer easier to use, all based on your unique learning style.

Color filters If it's hard to see what's on the screen, a color filter helps distinguish text and objects that differ only by color. Eye control Use eye-tracking technology to control your mouse, type, and communicate using text-to-speech. Narrator Read and write email, browse the internet, and work with documents on your PC all without a display or mouse.

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Editor Identify misspellings, grammatical mistakes, and writing style issues as you type. Accessibility Checker Run the Accessibility Checker to make sure your work and assignments are easy for people of all abilities to use. Professional development and training Microsoft Educator Center The Microsoft Educator Center provides online courses and activities to earn badges, certificates and earn professional development credit.

In-store training Find specialized professional development and training to build your inclusive classroom. Workshops Attend a workshop dedicated to training teachers on assisted technology and student-centered learning. Training and events Find on-demand or in-person training to help you build an inclusive classroom.

Accessibility courses for teachers. Understand accessibility tools Take this course for detailed steps on using accessibility tools in your classroom. Get accessible templates Find accessible documents and free templates to make your classroom content more inclusive.