Instructional Leadership and Blended Learning: Confronting the Knowledge Gap in Practice

Instructional Leadership and Blended Learning: Confronting the Knowledge Gap in Practice

Martin R. Reardon (Virginia Commonwealth University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-880-2.ch003
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Dewey’s concept of experience as an active engagement with a process of action, feedback, and reflection permeates the setting of the case reported in this chapter. The case involves an initiative to engage a group of experienced teachers and school administrators (in the context of a doctoral level course) with reading and reflecting on a vision of the future of education in a professional learning community permeated by the experience of blended learning. While the blended learning was heavily weighted towards face-to-face meetings, issues relating to the integration of technology with education became experienced realities for the group members. These issues included pre-service teacher education, equitable access to online resources, and the creation of an environment in which contemporary approaches to curriculum, teaching, and learning can flourish.
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Christensen, Horn, and Johnson (2008) argued persuasively that the traditional K-12 educational model is on the verge of a renovation so comprehensive that it amounts to something of a revolution. They typified the emerging educational model as “learner centered,” and focused on the central mediating role of online resources in enabling the management and delivery of learner-specific approaches to education. Blended learning retains the benefits of face-to-face social interaction with fellow learners while taking full advantage of the affordances of the online environment like ubiquitous access and virtual presence.

The exploration reported in this chapter was motivated by a belief that instructional leadership is an essential element in steering the implementation of blended learning in the K-12 setting. The perspective of this chapter is that contributions to the present and forthcoming discussions of the role of blended learning and the evolving educational model will be most credible if they emanate from instructional leaders’ lived professional experience and expertise. The credibility of educational leaders’ contributions is challenged by the contested concept of “digital natives” (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2007; Prensky, 2001a; Prensky, 2001b), in that many of those currently in instructional leadership positions are less comfortable with technology than the younger teachers and, particularly, the students. This generational difference gives rise to an imbalanced pedagogical situation and can result in the type of discordance between words and actions so pungently summed up as “the multi-prong problem” on a recent blog post:

I have found it increasingly annoying to hear from on high that we need to integrate more technology in our classroom…. (We have to) still (use) old standbys because we don’t have the time to use and troubleshoot our way through technology. (We have to make) worksheets by copying and pasting by hand. (We have to build) test questions from book programs that only work on PCs or OS 9 on (sic) macs. (We want) to use videos from the Internet only to find they are blocked. (We want to) post information to a Web site or build (our) own Web sites (only) to find that FTP is blocked, or that online-services are clunky, restrictive, and cumbersome. (Arizpe, 2008)

The larger question of the integration of digital technology and education illustrated by Arizpe (2008) is not limited to just the United States. Distilling educationally related questions with respect to information and communication technology (ICT) across the broad sweep of Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, the Center for Educational Research and Innovation (CERI, 2008) asked “how far does, and should, (ICT’s) potential to personalize learning get exploited, whether in schools or in other places where learning can take place?” (p. 57).

The CERI (2008) question invokes one of the crucial advantages of the revolution foreseen by Christensen et al. (2008): learner-centered education. The Christensen et al. perspective is supported by a range of findings. For example, Howell, West, and Peterson (2008) declared that “one of the latest education innovations to go mainstream (was) online education” (Howell et al., 2008, ¶ 1). To support their claim, they cited figures from the North American Council for Online Learning (NACOL) that suggested that enrollment in online courses totaled 45,000 in 2000—a figure which had grown to 1 million by 2007. Of these online courses, according to Howell et al., 70 percent were pitched at the high school level.

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Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Mark C. Goniwiecha
Yukiko Inoue
Yukiko Inoue
Chapter 1
Roisin Donnelly
This chapter discusses the complexities of blending technologies and problem-based learning (PBL) group interaction within the context of academic... Sample PDF
The Nature of Complex Blends: Transformative Problem-Based Learning and Technology in Irish Higher Education
Chapter 2
Linda De George-Walker, Abdul Hafeez-Baig, Raj Gururajan, P. A. Danaher
One of the most significant challenges in learning and teaching is to maximize successful and sustainable learner engagement. The growing literature... Sample PDF
Experiences and Perceptions of Learner Engagement in Blended Learning Environments: The Case of an Australian University
Chapter 3
Martin R. Reardon
Dewey’s concept of experience as an active engagement with a process of action, feedback, and reflection permeates the setting of the case reported... Sample PDF
Instructional Leadership and Blended Learning: Confronting the Knowledge Gap in Practice
Chapter 4
Chris Morgan, Janie Conway-Herron
This case study reports on the results of a two-year pilot study in blended learning in an undergraduate creative writing program at Southern Cross... Sample PDF
Blended Learning in a Creative Writing Program: Lessons Learned from a Two-Year Pilot Study
Chapter 5
Joan E. Aitken
Blended learning is an instructional method that opens the channels of communication in the learning process so that there are increased... Sample PDF
Blended Learning for Adaptation to Needs
Chapter 6
John Lidstone, Paul Shield
This paper examines the enabling effect of using blended learning and synchronous internet mediated communication technologies to improve learning... Sample PDF
Virtual Reality or Virtually Real: Blended Teaching and Learning in a Master's Level Research Methods Class
Chapter 7
P. Toyoko Kang
This chapter provides an argument endorsing blended learning and teaching for foreign language (FL)/second language (L2) courses, in lieu of total... Sample PDF
Teaching Online: What Does Blended Learning Require?
Chapter 8
Roberto Di Scala
This chapter tackles the implementation of the way online courses of English language are structured within the on-line degree courses of the... Sample PDF
The Perfect Blend?: Online Blended Learning from a Linguistic Perspective
Chapter 9
Yukiko Inoue
This chapter discusses the case of a pilot course implementing blended learning at an American Pacific island university. This case provides a... Sample PDF
Reflections: Two Years after Implementing a Blended Educational Research Course
Chapter 10
Hong Lin, Kathleen D Kelsey
In recent years, Wikis, an open Web-based editing tool, have increasingly been used for collaborative writing projects in classrooms. Hailed as a... Sample PDF
A Case of Using Wikis to Foster Collaborative Learning: Pedagogical Potential and Recommendations
Chapter 11
Kam Hou Vat
This case investigates a set of empowerment concerns in the context of transforming classes of student and teacher learners (considered as... Sample PDF
Virtual Organizing Professional Learning Communities through a Servant-Leader Model of Appreciative Coaching
Chapter 12
John J. Doherty
This chapter discusses the role that technology can play in a first-year Honors seminar. For the purposes of the chapter, blended learning is... Sample PDF
Bothering with Technology: Building Community in an Honors Seminar
Chapter 13
Kai Masumi
This chapter discusses how to adapt online learning to teach Japanese language courses. The author overviews the current language education... Sample PDF
Online Materials for Teaching Japanese
Chapter 14
Michelle Bednarzyk, Merissa Brown
In the spring of 2007, English faculty members at the University of Guam began researching the need for online education options that could be... Sample PDF
Composition Goes Online: How a Small Pacific Island is Blogging into the Future
Chapter 15
Richard Engstrom
This case outlines the author’s experience teaching a large Introduction to American Government course using a hybrid classroom/online approach. The... Sample PDF
Integrating Classroom and Online Instruction in an Introductory American Government Course
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