The Role of the Instructor in the HBL Classroom

 

 

The role of the instructor changes quite a bit when blended learning practices are put into use.  Prior to entering the classroom, the course materials need to prepared in a manner that allows the student to acquire content knowledge without instructor assistance.  Students need to be able to move forward at a self directed pace, unharnessed from the previous synchronous structures of instruction.  The content itself needs to be experienced from a wide variety of modalities in order to reach all types of learners and to sustain student interest.  Specific tips on unit construction are outlines in the Content Management section.  

 

Instructors will quickly notice that they are no longer the center of attention in the classroom.  After the course structures are put into place, the students are on their own, free to move at a pace that matches their learning style and depth of interest.  The instructor becomes what I like to call the "professional learner" in the classroom; an expert on the art of learning.  The term "guide on the side" is often used to refer to this type of instructional facilitation.  The first objective of the instructor is to assist and monitor HOW the students are learning in the classroom.

 

  • Do they read the material?

  • Do they take notes as needed?

  • Are they clearly organizing their learning portfolio?

  • Do they go deeper and research beyond the boundaries of the lesson?

  • Do they share their work with others and get feedback?

  • Do they ask appropriate questions after exhausting other possible solutions?

  • How do they breakdown their problems in pursuit of finding answers?

  • Are they setting small goals for their work in each class?

  • Do they need a guided learning plan?

 

If the blended learning environment is heterogenous, the instructor will need to be able to switch gears and address any question from any subject at any time.  When similar questions keep popping up, the instructor will quickly realize that the content in the units will need to be adjusted to address the deficiency.  In the meantime, small group dialogue sessions are encouraged to work through these challenges.  Through my experience I have found it helpful to set up small group presentations when learning new software or a significantly difficult concept.  This works well at the start of the course when most students are still in roughly the same location of study.  Later as the gap increases between the faster and slower learners, group work becomes a bit more challenging.  As the courses progress, the need for group instruction becomes diminished because the students have learned how to self direct their learning and problem solve more efficiently.

 

If the class systems are clear and working well, students will begin to engage in their studies at the start of class without teacher influence.  Instructors may need to encourage students from time to time, to share out their work with their peers and feel comfortable asking questions of each other as they arise.  The objective is for the student to use all available resources and gain as much responsibility for their learning as possible.   The classroom will look like a hub of curiosity and creative exploration.  Once up and running, it is like a well oiled machine where students are engaged, interactive when appropriate, and on task.  At this point there is an additional shift in responsibilities for the instructor.   

 

  • Begin to assess student work posted in the ePortfolios - this takes time.

  • Set up face to face conferences to help students improve upon their work

  • Establish guided learning plans for students that are falling behind or struggling to find focus in class.

  • Serve as a research assistant for students with questions that go beyond the scope of your content knowledge

  • Find commonalities between student work and encourage peer reflection whenever possible

  • Sit with one student and guide them through the content if they are challenged by the content

  • Set up plans for students that are slower learners so that they may keep up with the unit deadline structure that is in place.  

 

The instructor in the Heterogeneous Blended environment is always busy.  Just like the student, there is always a unit or assignment waiting for the instructor.  If the instructor is not needed, then assessment of student work should be occurring. Assessing ePortfolios during class allows for instant one on one dialogues with students providing them with rich feedback face to face.  Important relationships become established during this time and are critical to building a sense of community in your classroom.  From time to time, gather your class together to share out student work publicly, even if the subjects of study in the room are different.  This will also foster connections in your room and help elevate the isolation that can occur in a blended classroom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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