Teachers overuse BLEND for instruction

Natalia Estrada

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When students walk into most of their classes, they are greeted with a typical reminder: “login to BLEND.”

It was created in 2017 and it was available to all schools starting in August. This application is intended to be used as a practice for teachers and improve the skills and interests of students. BLEND provides learning, assessment, and organization tools that allow users to be more efficient and effective in their everyday learning.

In the last two years that Akins has had access to the BLEND learning management system, it has become central to the operation of most classrooms. Logging into BLEND has become even more important than coming to class with a pencil and paper in some ways.

BLEND is a learning management system that allows teachers to provide instructional resources in an online format that is available to students, at any time and any place that has an Internet connection. When it was introduced in 2017, it was a game-changer for many teachers who were still mostly relying on passing out paper copies of handouts for lessons and resources.

However, the name BLEND is often misleading because in some cases teachers are overusing this online tool and students are missing out on traditional “in-real-life” learning activities. BLEND by itself does not provide a truly blended learning format, where students learn from both online resources and in-person learning experiences.

In some classes, teachers ask students to get into their courses and wait for them just to read from slides that are already on BLEND for a large portion of the class. After they are done reading they are asked to submit a written explanation or reflection about the reading. And that might be all the student does for the rest of the period.

There are clearly teachers at Akins that have not had enough training to know that BLEND should not be the only thing that students do in class. The name itself is a reference to the concept of “blended learning” in which students are supposed to do a mix of online work and in-real-life activities with other students and the teacher. In these cases, it feels like BLEND is not being used appropriately or to its full potential. Even though this system sounds like an advance and creative tool for students to improve, the benefits it provides are mixed.

How can students benefit from working on BLEND? Students can have access to classroom assignments, quizzes, calendars, and a grade book integrated with TEAMS. Track their progress with the help of their teacher- er feedback and communicate with them. I appreciate having BLEND as a resource and a way to turn in written assignments, but I do not think online assignments should replace engaging teaching and lessons. at said, I know that it takes time and e ort to develop online content posted on BLEND.

The school district should do more to ensure that teachers have access to content that can easily be incorporated into BLEND so they don’t have to spend all of their time creating and uploading online lessons. is takes them away from the important work of developing relationships and engaging classroom experiences.