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New program prepares educators for blended learning

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Upon completing the course, educators should be well versed in designing, presenting, and assessing lessons in both an online and a blended learning environment.

Many brick-and-mortar schools want to incorporate more online instruction—but how should teachers prepare for the newly popular blended classroom? An update to a national certification program for educators promises to help them teach in a blended learning environment.

Leading Edge Certification (LEC)—an alliance of education agencies, nonprofit organizations, and universities—has updated its educational technology course, now renamed the Online and Blended Teacher Certification program.

In a shift from its previous focus solely on online learning, the eight- to 10-week course—which debuted last year—now includes both online and blended learning topics in each of its eight modules. Upon completion of the course, which follows iNACOL’s national standards for high-quality online teaching, educators should be well versed in designing, presenting, and assessing lessons in both an online and a blended learning environment.

Mike Lawrence, founding chair of LEC, said school leaders have expressed a strong preference for blended learning over pure online learning, according to preliminary results of the California Learning Resource Network (CLRN) e-Learning census administered this spring.

“Traditional schools want to take advantage of existing facilities. [Moving to blended learning] is a much easier step than, ‘What, I’m never going to meet these kids?’” said Lawrence.

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Each module of the course, usually covered in one week, requires educators to read a digital textbook, which includes embedded quizzes and other formative assessments. Educators prepare one or two assignments based on their reading: If the lesson was on accessibility, for example, one assignment might be to create a sample of accessible content.

Throughout the week, instructors post probing questions on the course discussion board, provide feedback on assignments, and hold virtual office hours on a platform such as Skype or Google Hangouts.

At the end of the instructional week, educators submit a longer, culminating project that goes in their digital portfolio. For the accessibility unit, students might create their own ADA-compliant videos complete with headings and captions.

After eight weeks of instruction, participants submit to their instructors a final portfolio and reflection based on the webpage-creator Google Sites. If the portfolio meets the program’s standards, the instructor awards the educator LEC certification.

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