Projects with Technology Do Good Things

Post by Lora Poser-Brown


Kingston, Sally and Lenz, Bob. “Blending Technology into Project Based Learning.” Partnerships for 21st Century Learning. Jan. 21, 2016.

Overview: This article discusses many ways to incorporate projects and technology in regular instruction. In addition, justification is given for more projects with evidence that doing so increases attendance, scores, engagement, social skills, and more.

Analysis: The article was a quick read with great concrete examples for teachers. Furthermore, the ideas given can easily be adapted for different ages and subjects. The article makes project based learning seem less daunting for those new to the teaching style.

Blended Instructional Practice: a review of literature.

Johnston, Jeff

ET-Blended learning

Brown, M. m. (2016). Blended instructional practice: A review of the empirical literature on instructors’ adoption and use of online tools in face-to-face teaching. Internet & Higher Education311-10.

Summary:  Blended learning has been discussed and researched by academia, but the primary focus has been student-centered.  Most students enrolled in degree programs have experienced some form of blended learning practices.  What has not been researched as greatly is the impact that blended learning shifts have on pedagogy, institutional practices, student and faculty behaviors, institutional infrastructure and more.  This article reviews existing literature to identify influences on blended learning in higher education.  

Analysis/Opinion:  Rather dry empircal review of existing research regarding blended learning practices.  I found it interesting that most of the research has been driven by examining the student role, receptivity, and success in blended learning classrooms.  Very little research exists about the instructor role, particularly in higher education, and what internal and external influences exists.  The tables at the end of the article are useful in that they define the four external and two internal influences on collegiate and university instructors utilizing blended instructional practices (BIP), and point to further research which both supports, is neutral toward, and is opposed to these influences.  

Teaching Social Studies with Video Games
Maguth, B. M., List, J. S., Wunderle, M. (2015). Teaching social studies with video games. The Social Studies, 106(1), 32-36. doi: 10.1080/00377996.2014.961996
This article highlights the use of interactive video games as instructional tools in the classroom.  Students used the game Age of Empires II: The Age of Kings to build up a civilization.  This game was chosen because it could be aligned with state standards, had an easy to use interface, and good enough graphics to keep students engaged.  The teacher assessed student learning by having students write reflections related to academic content standards such as geography, trade, economics, etc.  Students were required to make connections between class discussions and the video game.  Teacher and student found the game to be a success in allowing students to practice academic content in “real world” scenario that was engaging.  The article even attributes this teaching strategy as an example of learning through play—a theory of Vygotsky and Piaget.

This article highlights the importance of information and technology literacy in our classrooms.  While this article did not highlight the role of a teacher librarian, I can only imagine how much more beneficial the outcome would have been if teacher and teacher librarian had co-taught this assignment.

A Half-Flipped Classroom

Friel, Holly
Westermann, Edward B. (2014). A Half-Flipped Classroom. Educational Research Quarterly. 38.2, 43-57.
The main focus of this article is to report on an upper division university history course where students accessed primary sources online and shared their thoughts before class through short essays and discussion posts, and during class they were guided through a “student-centered collaborative exercise based on the primary sources.” The approach discussed in this paper is different from a typical “flipped” classroom where the on-line component is usually a professor’s lecture (that person’s interpretation of the material) because students develop their own perspectives of the primary sources rather than having the professor tell them what to think about it.

If you’re not familiar with the concepts of a “flipped classroom” and “blended learning,” this article, while not its central point, provides good definitions of these two terms.  For example, “flipping” is defined as “an instructional technique [that] focuses on the creation of a student-centered learning environment that leverages technology and emphasizes application and collaboration.” The author references Bloom’s Taxonomy, and how “flipping” is supposed to push students to work at a higher cognitive level.  The author also explains that “blended or hybrid learning” is a combination of in-class meetings and an online component.  In addition, the article describes very interesting uses of primary sources, questioning, and short essay topics.

Team Learning and Collaboration Between Online and Blended Learner Groups

Stefani Tovar

Lim, D. H., & Yoon, S. W. (2008). Team learning and collaboration between online and blended learner groups. Performance Improvement Quarterly21(3), 59.

This article examines online and blended learning models to determine which, if any, offers a more collaborative platform of instruction.

While its approach may vary, the study focuses on blended learning, which offers a combination of online, in-person meetings on a campus or other site (i.e. museum, park, etc), as well as opportunities for live instruction with professors. Highlights of the findings showed a significant difference between these two approaches. Among them were higher student performance and collaboration opportunities among the blended learners.  A possible cause of these findings were linked to the effectiveness of the professor and their ability to facilitate meaningful work.  Also the perception of social belonging was significant in both groups, favoring the blended learning approach.

I found this article of personal interest because of the nature of the MLIS program at SJSU.  I think that these findings are supported by my own experiences thus far in the program.  The engagement of the instructor, the motivation of the students and delivery of instruction fluctuate in quality from course to course, affecting the meaningful learning and collaborative opportunities available to students.  I don’t believe the findings are startling, but they help support that regardless of the medium, teacher quality is a central theme.

The Four Important Models of Blended Learning Teachers Should Know About

Bailey, Rachel

The four important models of blended learning teachers should know about. (2014, April 28).   Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved from

Summary– This article gives a quick overview of the four models of blended learning. They include: The Flipped Classroom Model, The Flex Model, The Lab Rotation Model, The Station Rotation Model. The article also includes 3 videos of schools that use the models on a day to day basis.

Evaluation- Probably my favorite model is the Flex Model. It showcases persoalized learning at its finest. For this model to work, a lot of thought and collaboration would have to happen behind the scenes and teachers would have to be willing to step out from the confines of the traditional classroom.