Peripatetic school already used tablets and blended learning

Written by on 06/07/2014 in Blog

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Aristoteles and his students would have had the same media we have today. They implemented an important change at that time. They were busy people and used walking time to learn as well. They also had tablets made of wax, there was no “screen refresh” function. And they overcame to all these challenged with enthusiasm, with desire to learn. That’s the compelling reason for any change. Because you change with you know, and you know if you want to know.

A cultural change is like a step of the progress ladder the society has to climb. In terms of education there are many steps to climb, and technology is a catalyst. I am reading in The New York Times the article “Apple expands iTunes U Education App for iPads” which I recommend to all the involved groups of students, parents and teachers.

In a cultural change the first thing to do is (1) to know what role do we have to play each of us. In education through technology, we are still discovering who does what. The next step will (2) be how we do it, then (3) how we measure results and finally (4) how we come closer to the objective.

These steps are not easy at all, specially when we are at the first one. When we visit language schools some of them ask me, do you have measurements of progress, where we may compare how language students progressed before they used your Blended Learning approach, and how they do now after the new approach is available? That show to me they are not aware what is required.

In this article I would like to focus on “The Change” that represents putting in place Blended Learning in a Language School and to explain the first step only: “Who does what”. In order to do it, we identify the following players:

  1. Language School owners
  2. Studies Managers
  3. Teachers
  4. Students
  5. Content Providers
  6. Hardware Technology Providers
  7. Software Technology Providers

Do you think the list is complete? Well, I have to tell you, I left one more out on purpose, because is the most important one “THE PROJECT MANAGER”. Unless we recognize we need a project manager, the overall attempt to transform a group of people will fail.

We have to understand that I have presented a list of roles, not people, several roles can be performed by one person, the importance is to be aware that they are required.

The good news are that pieces are coming together, more and more people performs its role without noticing and without requiring lot of effort. In “Managing Change” terms, actors are called “Agents of change”. Out of the list Teachers and Students are Targets of Change, the rest are Agents of Change.

Language School owners are worried about ROI, and they usually blame everybody around to get reasons when the expected ROI was not achieved. We may read in the New York Times article about Montlieu Academy of Technology in North Carolina. They were very successful, we would need to know what was behind their success, I am sure all agents played their role.

Teachers play a double role, they are target of change and also agents of it. The answer to the questions “Does it take effort to implement Blended Language Learning or not? and how much?” It would be a mistake to say that it doesn’t. Of course it takes and what is the payback they get. We will analyse that in further posts, for the moment, just trust me that from the professional point of view their value goes up.

Study Managers and Project Managers roles are very close, Study Managers need to incorporate Project Manager skills.

And finally Providers from the list are offering better and better services, are the ones that pull the rest, although in my opinion, Content Providers are behind schedule, maybe due to complicated internal business reasons from their management boards.

In the incoming articles I will analyse each of the roles in detail and I’ll design action plans to cope with the challenges they face going ahead with one of the most exciting strategies to implement: Blended Language Learning.

 

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