Last year as part of my role as a Technology Leader, I scrambled around trying to find a Web 2.0 Tool that I could demonstrate at a school TechTalk (our volunteer Technology PDs). It was the first time I would be running a PD and I wanted to find a good tool for the classroom that other teachers could use. I stumbled upon Blendspace (originally called EdCanvas). I quickly used it in my classroom, testing it out on my unsuspecting students. It got them engaged in their learning as they could work at their own pace and also collaboratively to complete all the activities.This year I decided to use Blendspace for the entire unit on Medieval History as they could work through a variety of tasks that included videos, quizzes as well educational games.
So what is Blendspace? It is an excellent tool for Blended Learning in the classroom. At least it is an excellent tool for students who are self-motivated and eager to learn. For these learners, Blendspace is good because they can move ahead at their own pace without being held back by the reluctant learners. For my EAL learners, it was a challenge to complete the activities in the unit but they negotiated their learning with me. They were allowed to tackle 10 activities out of 16 as it would take them a longer time to complete. Yet I found that this unit engaged them more because they could focus on what interested them and they were able to ask for focused help to complete the tasks. I found that they were more successful in this unit on Blendspace because they worked at their own pace and ability without feeling as if they were failing to keep up. One of my EAL students told me that he liked this unit because he didn’t feel that he was “lagging behind”.
There were problems with this unit though. It allowed the reluctant learners to get away with minimal work. My teaching team tried to ensure that we kept a constant check on these learners but they knew how to trick us into believing that they were actually doing the work.
So my questions for next time I used Blendspace:
- How can I monitor these reluctant learners?
- What can I do to support them in their learning without resorting to banning technology for them (which was my first reaction)?
- How do I alter my use of Blendspace so that I can cater for different learning styles especially my reluctant learners?