The increasing role of ICT in the labour market and the various contemporary online and e-Learning approaches to education, necessitated the adaption of new forms of education, didactics, and pedagogies for ICT integration, as well as in the systemic approach to methodologies that balance virtual and face-to-face learning in schools. The project aimed to provide resources and training for school leadership teams on the ways in which traditional schooling can be transformed through a combination of online and offline teaching-learning experiences. Within this process, both the school leadership together with teachers were trained to become the primary motivators and initiators of ICT implementation, and to function as agents of change to transform classical methods into more modern ones (also known as blended learning - BL). The project’s topics include new innovative curricula, educational methods, and development of training courses; pedagogy and didactics; and ICT/digital competences – all of which are in line with the Teaching Award’s annual priority.
The project’s direct target groups consisted of 1) teacher trainers from partner institutions in Latvia, Austria, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom (13 persons) who participated in the Toolkit Development and delivered training and support workshops to school leadership teams during the piloting process. Participants’ profiles consisted of trainers with a background in either pre-service or in-service training; those familiar with BL methodology and with practical experience in BL; and those who are competent users of ICT within teaching learning processes. 2) School leadership teams from 21 schools in Latvia, Austria, Cyprus, and the United Kingdom, consisting of 4-5 participants from said schools, including representatives from school administration (heads, deputy heads), method group leaders, ICT teachers, and teachers of various subjects who were enthusiastic about the use of technologies in their teaching/learning process. During the piloting process, school teams worked with all staff members from their schools and students in order to increase the number of participants. With regard to Latvia, the schools involved in the piloting phase represented all of the country’s regions (Liepaja Secondary school No 6, Rūjiena Secondary School, Riga English Grammar School, Daugavpils Secondary School No15, Kandava Secondary Boarding School), with the project’s indirect target groups consisting of teachers, students, parents, and policymakers.
The “B-Learning: Curriculum Design for Blended Learning” (B-Learning) project focused on pedagogical innovations that allowed for the broadest application of technological tools so as to comprehensively impact learning. A Needs Analysis was carried out during the initial project phase which proved that blended learning was not a method that was widely known or applied by educators from partner countries (nor sufficiently supported by national policies). Although there were educators who applied various ICT practices into their teaching approaches, said practices had not been incorporated into coherent methodologies. As such, there was no formal training programme for blended learning in any partner country; furthermore, in order to properly execute a shift from traditional teaching practices to a more modern one, it was crucial that teachers were not only aware of the method, but were also able to apply it in teaching-learning situations. It was also very important for schools to realise where they stood, and what steps they had to take in order to succeed in blended learning. As such, the Toolkit for the introduction of blended learning was developed to assist schools in this exact process, with the Toolkit itself designed in such a way so as to allow for its application by those who were already familiar with the BL approach, as well as by beginners. The Toolkit consists of 1) a professional development programme for school leadership teams (PDP), 36 academic hours; 2) guidelines for trainers; 3) course materials for PDP; 4) guidelines for school teams; and, 5) self-evaluation tool for schools. Within the project’s lifetime, 21 school teams piloted the Toolkit, with around 100 educators directly involved. As acknowledged by participants, the Toolkit proved to be an easy-to-use tool, with its content and activities relevant to school managers and change agents. All school teams were provided with the opportunity to participate in a 36-hour PDP programme, with the programme covering 7 units in total: 1. Introduction: introducing schools to the concept and benefits of BL, with each school making an initial diagnostic and formulating a first draft for blended learning in their respective contexts; 2. Models of Blended Learning: models of blended learning were presented and discussed, with the school making an assessment of what types of blended learning models were possible within its own learning environment; 3. Designing Blended Learning: modelling BL from a teacher’s viewpoint by planning a unit/lesson using the blended learning approach; 4. Management of Blended Learning: schools revisit the vision based on a deeper understanding of blended learning and plan a change of their management strategy; 5. Setting up Blended Learning: schools choose and set up their technological infrastructure, and develop their curriculum using blended learning; 6. Delivering Blended Learning: this unit focuses on supporting school teams in their implementation of BL; and, 7. Monitoring Blended Learning: key indicators were identified for assessing the implementation of blended learning (with tools created to measure them).
Working together in teams helped school leaders and teachers better understand how to implement a whole school approach to Blended Learning, how to bring technology into every classroom and make it work, and how to uncover blended learning strategies for school-wide use. Joint-training workshops for educators from the 4 partner countries (including teams from different schools) facilitated the peer learning process and a collaborative culture of ‘teacher learning,’ as well as networking among participating institutions and individuals. The testing/piloting of new tools/methodologies provided the opportunity for partner schools to strengthen their professional capacities, and become leaders in Blended Learning in their home countries, which enabled them to share their experiences and know-how with other schools by organising master classes, training workshops, and conferences.
As a result of their participation in the project, teachers became more knowledgeable and competent in their implementation of the BL approach within their respective teaching-learning processes; developed competences in learning how to cooperate with other teachers in the planning of BL at their schools; began providing support/mentorship to other teachers as agents of change in their schools; began receiving recognition for their professionalism by students and parents; and, acted as multipliers by delivering training sessions and master classes in the production and sharing of training materials.
As a result of the project, the number of schools that use the BL approach has steadily increased. Indeed, an increasing number of teachers and school leaders have become more aware about BL and the benefits it can bring to learning processes, thanks to the project’s various dissemination activities and training courses. Overall, interest and motivation in the BL approach has increased since the COVID-19 pandemic, as schools had to shift to distance learning and thus new teaching-learning strategies were needed. Furthermore, even after the project’s completion, there continues to be a demand for CPD courses, which can be met by the project’s partner institutions. BL is being gradually implemented in pilot schools, with information and knowledge exchange being continuously carried out between them. Also, schools have recognised that they were more confident and prepared in the reorganisation of teaching-learning processes during he shift to distance learning, as opposed to other schools. Pilot schools continue to develop their respective know-how and expertise by participating in new cooperation projects that are related to the implementation of technology in teaching and learning processes. In Latvia, 9 months following the project’s conclusion, its results were analysed among partner schools, with the directors of 2 pilot schools having described the results in a scientific article; the article highlighted the challenges faced by school leaders and also offers possible solutions. In fact, said article may be used in discussions with school leaders, policy makers, and technology developers: Proceedings of the International Scientific Conference, Volume II, May 25th-26th, 2018. 240 - 253 Kokare & Strautins, 2018. Setting up Blended Learning at School: LeadershipPerspective http://journals.rta.lv/index.php/SIE/article/view/3161/3016.
- Project locations
- Project category
- Secondary education
- Project year
Best Institut für Berufsbezogene Weiterbildung und Personaltraining GMBH
Centre for Advancement of Research and Development in Educational Technology LTD-CARDET
Izglītības metodiskā laboratorija
Rīgas Angļu ģimnāzija
The Skills Lab
- United Kingdom