The buzz word around education is “blended learning,” and how it can potentially transform the way instruction is being delivered, created, and assessed. According to Quality International Research definition, blended learning is a “flexible approach that combines face-to-face teaching/learning with remote (usually internet-based) learning.” While many will argue that this concept is not knew, the landscape that web-based learning is developing is definitely in a new phase.
The rapid development of educational software is providing teachers access to digital content in a new interactive way. While the teacher remains as the core of the blended learning model, the hope of blended learning is that the technology will enable teachers to efficiently personalize instruction for each student. The goal of these tools is to provide teachers real-time data, differentiated instruction paced for each individual, and deliver various methods of curriculum interaction. The success of the blended model has strong dependance of the tools available for teachers.
There are several technologies that are being developed to support this model. Unless you are building your own internal tools, below are the technologies and example companies who are developing in this area:
- Learning Management Systems (LMS) – Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Moodle, Haiku, Sakai, Canvas, and BrainHoney
- Student Information Systems (SIS) – PowerSchool, Genesis, eSchoolPlus, Zangle, BlackBaud and Focus SIS
- Content & Instruction Providers – Apex, e2020, K12 Inc., Aleks, Learn360, Khan Academy, Compass Learning and DreamBox
- Data Assessment Systems (DAS) – Data Director, EduSoft, Illuminate, NWEA, CoreK12, D2SC, Link It and SchoolNet
- Communication & Collaboration Tools – Google Apps for Edu, Microsoft Live 365, Zoho, Wikis, Skype, GoToMeeting and Edmodo
And in near future, there will be a host of companies developing products that will provide Data Aggregation, Teacher Dashboard & Reporting, Infrastructure Systems Integration, and Predictive Analytics.
As one can see above, there is a heavy dependance of the development of these technologies to power our blended classrooms. The teacher ultimately drives the blended classroom, but these technologies provide the tools that will bring it all together.
As blended learning continues to evolve as an educational approach, technologists and educators have to keep a close eye on the industry that will support it. And as more and more companies develop products, there will be a growing need to be critical on who will survive to truly support our classrooms. Let the product wars begin…