In an age of technology obsession, distractibility and desensitization, the models of teaching that once served us are decreasing in relevance.
Exposure to apps, television and social media channels – all vying for our attention with progressively fascinating stimuli – have hardwired the brains of young people, making it increasingly difficult to captivate their attention with just a whiteboard and marker pen.
‘Blended learning’, a contemporary approach to teaching which combines face-to-face methods with computer-mediated activities is fast gaining popularity – its independent technology-based component resonating particularly well with Gen Z archetypes.
But blended learning as a concept is actually pretty broad and until now there has been a lack of consensus on what it should look like in practice. It’s varying manifestations make it an awkward subject for research and even more awkward as a guiding model for student success. This has left many educators wondering how exactly they can and should be implementing blended learning within their classrooms.
Enter Melbourne Girls Grammar School – who have developed and implemented a high definition, award-winning example. Their disruptive model – designed for Year 9 to 11 students – is built around a wellbeing framework, comprising independent online learning, personalized feedback and innovative classroom-based teaching.
Unlike traditional education paradigms in which learning happens primarily in the classroom – students within this model enrich their knowledge via online curriculum content (designed by expert teachers), and a flexible timetable allows them to shape their day according to their own aspirations and priorities. In this model, the teacher is able to respond to individual students’ needs, with classroom learning becoming more focused on applying students’ knowledge.
The digital learning aspect also provides educators with a rich set of data to work with and inform future evidence based practices.
Joanna Baker, Teaching & Learning Leader at Melbourne Girls Grammar School, has taken a lead role in the design and implementation of the award-winning initiative. She says, “We have found that giving students responsibility to develop and dictate their own learning, and in a medium which suits them, has significantly increased levels of engagement. Teachers have also reported that they feel as though they know their students and understand their learning needs better”.
Joanna Baker will talk in further depth about Melbourne Girls Grammar’s pioneering approach to blending learning including advice on how educators can effectively adopt it within their classrooms at the Evidence Based Teaching Summit due to take place 20-21 September in Melbourne.