More than 350 educators from Zamboanga City, part of Mindanao in the Philippines, convened at KCC Mall de Zamboanga to participate in a “face-to-face” e-session with English Language Fellow Leah Jordano-Kudalis. Jordano-Kudalis appeared remotely from the U.S. Embassy in Manila to introduce participants to a free blended-learning platform, Schoology. It was just the latest in a series of supports the Embassy has offered for in-service teachers enrolled in the Using Educational Technology in the English Language Classroom MOOC provided by Iowa State University as part of the American English (AE) E-Teacher Series for Spring 2018. “Thanks so much for your great insights about integrating technology into our teaching. It was amazing,” said one local teacher who participated.
Blended learning refers to instructional design that combines e-learning with in-person instruction to create a hybrid teaching approach that is not confined by the limits of time (a class period) or space (the classroom). Jordano-Kudalis wanted to introduce Schoology as she’d used it very successfully with her students over the past several years, including in the Philippines. As a poll during the session revealed that 73% of the in-service teacher participants had never used any type of online learning platform before, the value of the training was quite clear. By the end of the 90-minute session, 70 of the 350 participants had already joined Schoology to take part in the post-session extension activities set up to give participants hands-on experience with the learning platform. As one participant noted, the blended platform works well even where computers aren’t present in school: “As long as our students have mobile phones with Internet connections, I can already teach them lessons using technology — especially doing online research, activities and assignments. I enjoyed it and I can introduce these applications to my students.”