Tech Integration & Blended Learning

By | January 20, 2019

Chapter 9: Modes of Delivery by Tony Bates proved to be informative when learning more about technology-based learning.  As Bates outlines, modes of delivery can include fully online, blended, or face-to-face.  I feel it most important to highlight Bates’ idea that when choosing how to deliver course content, an instructor must first consider student needs.  Bates encourages teachers to ask themselves the following questions:

  • who are  – or could be – my students?
  • what is my preferred teaching approach?
  • what are the content and skills that I need to teach?
  • what resources will I have to support my decision?

I see great value in these questions as focussing on student needs will ultimately allow educators to select the best form of content delivery, regardless of whether or not technology has a strong presence or not.  Ultimately, it is the goal of educators to select the most effective mode of delivery for the various learning needs/styles in our classrooms.

Technology Integration

In my professional context as a learning resource teacher, my job has been to incorporate assistive technologies whenever possible in order to assist tier 2 and tier 3 students.  These technologies can be categorized as no tech, low tech and high tech as seen below:

No Tech

  • Walkers
  • Cane
  • Braille
  • Pencil grips
  • Raised line paper
  • Magnifiers
  • Tactile letters
  • Post it notes
  • Slanted surfaces
  • Communication boards
  • Weighted pen
  • Number line
  • Graphic organizer
  • Scribe
  • Reading guide

Low Tech

  • Buzzers
  • Visual timers
  • Calculator
  • Electric organizers
  • Recorded lectures
  • FM systems
  • Spell checker
  • Audiobooks
  • Word processor
  • Alternative Keyboards
  • Closed caption TV

High Tech

  • E-reader
  • Touchscreen devices
  • Word prediction
  • Voice to text programs
  • Hearing aid
  • Alerting device
  • Electric wheelchairs
  • Scooters
  • Read and write programs
  • Augmentative communication devices
  • Voice-activated telephones
  • Digi drive technology

It can be assumed that depending on how severe a child’s needs are, one would require a higher tech assistive tool.  One of the main challenges that I have faced when trying to incorporate the low and high tech assistive tools into classrooms are those highlighted in Amy’s blog: the cost of putting these technologies into schools and the lack of professional development that accompanies such tools.  Often times, teachers and educational assistants are not properly trained in how to utilize technologies to full capacity.  This can often lead to frustrations when “tech issues” arise and a lack of time and energy on professionals parts to try and make the tools work.

Although having faced these challenges, I have also experienced the advantages of incorporating (assistive) technologies into classrooms to support students with learning needs.  Providing wheelchair accessibility or scooters to assist a student’s mobility throughout a classroom/school can be an empowering way to support a child.  Providing FM systems or auditory devices for students with hearing impairments can improve a child’s academic success, self-esteem, social interactions, etc.  Providing access to word prediction and/or voice-to-text programs for students with learning disabilities can allow children to succeed in ways they didn’t know were possible.  Understanding a child and his/her strengths and challenges is the first step in recognizing what types of technologies may be beneficial to his/her academic and social growth.

Online Learning

When considering my experiences and perceptions of online learning, I base this on my experiences in Alec’s EC&I 833 and EC&I 834 classes.  It is through EC&I 833 that I posted a blog about online education.  Here, I explained my newfound use of Zoom, Twitter and GooglePlus (now Slack in EC&I 834) as a means to connect with fellow learners and my instructor.  As stated in Kyla’s blog, my experiences in EC&I 833 & ECI 834 have allowed me to do the following:

  • “Learn at (my) own pace”
    • The online courses that I have taken with Alec have allowed me to take my time in learning all of the technology tools (such as Zoom, Twitter & Slack) at my own pace and on my own terms.  I haven’t felt overwhelmed because I’ve been able to slowly explore these tools and get as comfortable as I can with them.
  • “Use of Technology”
    • Through Alec’s courses, I have been able to become more comfortable with apps and certain tools like Powtoon to show my learning.
  • “Collaboration”
    • The learning community that I have gained through Alec’s courses has really proven to me that online learning can be even more personal than face-to-face.  I have formed online connections with people that I have enjoyed learning from and with.  I strongly feel like the online learning community that one can form is possibly the best advantage of online or blended learning!

3 thoughts on “Tech Integration & Blended Learning

  1. Dean Vendramin

    Great insights. I really appreciated your statement the educator needs to select the most effective delivery to meet the needs of the student. This can come in many forms and educators need to be skilled at assess the needs of their students and find the optimum tools and delivery to meet student learning needs. Accessibility is an important topic and their are more opportunities to meet the needs of all learners regardless of limitations that maybe received. Agreed that more profession development is needed. There are many opportunities to reach out and grow your professional learning network and find resources and support that may help. Have you looked at the Immersive Reader embedded in many Microsoft products – can help with some accessibility challenges Thanks for sharing.

  2. aranford

    I agree that it is important to identify our learner’s needs. The questions outlined are essential to consider for every lesson. I think a teacher’s biggest frustration is tech issues. When teachers, and the professionals around us don’t take the time to learn about the technology we are using, our lessons are less effective. I often think about how we need to have specific PD on useful tools like Google Suite.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *