By Andrea Strosberg

Instructional Design and Support Specialist, The Alvo Institute

The average sixth grader can text circles around her parents; even preschoolers can navigate apps on a tablet or smart phone. And in recent years, internet access and use has become more widespread even in households that were previously less likely to be able to connect (such as those with annual income below $30,000—see this Pew Internet Study).

Whether or not students have the latest devices at home, all teachers should take steps to make sure students are really tech ready before integrating it as a part of a blended learning program.

What Does “Tech Ready” Mean In The Context Of A Blended Learning Classroom?

While computers might have filled research, word processing, and snazzy presentation roles in classrooms of the past, in a blended learning classroom, those dependable desktops (or a fleet of new tablets) are now entrusted with a serious portion of students’ learning.

In an ideal setup, students regularly access personalized content via high-quality online learning providers. Within a framework of both accountability and independence, teachers and students use data to shape teaching and learning decisions. Therefore, the technology piece is just one component in a rich array of instructional experiences provided.

And it goes without saying that teachers need students to be actively engaged and using tech safely. It’s a tall order, but successful integration of technology is within reach.

5 Tips for Successful “Tech Ready” Students in the Blended Classroom
Before you lift those gleaming laptops from their boxes, consider the following ways to get your students and classroom tech ready:

  1. Digital Citizenship: Teachers often spend the first weeks of school carefully shaping their classroom environment and having conversations about expectations. Computer and internet use in your class are an extension of this environment, but make the connection explicit for kids. Discuss your school’s acceptable use policy, establish and teach rules particular to your classroom, and role-play scenarios that might come up. Actively communicate with parents to share expectations for home use as well. has excellent materials to help.
  2. Routines: Take the time to establish these. Develop and practice routines that streamline the daily tasks of handing out tablets, booting up stationary computers, logging in, powering off, charging, cleaning up, and more. Good routines maximize engagement and time spent learning. Make sure to cover proper care of the devices.
  3. “Basic Training”: Though working with various tech gadgets may come naturally to most kids, it’s worth facilitating guided exploration of the devices and programs they’ll be using at school. Don’t discount the value of delivering a couple mini-lessons in which you point out how to navigate the specific student interfaces they’ll see. Empower students to help themselves and each other by together creating a troubleshooting poster or reference sheet so that they can handle common problems that might come up. Talk about how to keep passwords safe. Consider individual skill sets—from students with special needs to those who might serve as “tech captains” in your room.
  4. Prep Yourself: Take any training offered by your online learning provider(s) (OLPs) so you’ll be comfortable teaching your students the ins and outs of what they’ll be working on. Spend a little time familiarizing yourself with the devices you’ll be using; each platform is slightly different.
  5. Integrate Tech into your BL Classroom Culture: Even if computers have already been in use in your classroom, the way students will be using computers is new in blended learning. How will math class or the literacy block be different? Will students work toward goals? In what ways will they be accountable for their work on the computer? Which learning decisions are up to the students?


Want to learn more? Sign up for our upcoming Webinar “Phasing Technology into the classroom”
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, digital citizenship, engagement, technology

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