Blended Learning and the FUTURE!!

This week I was having a pretty philosophical debate with some co-workers about what the future of education is going to look like. Will our children’s school experience look like ours? What about our grandchildren?

I think the probability of being replaced by a robot in the next 20 years is low, but I do think there will be drastic changes to school and education in our lifetime.

(anyone seen “the class of 1999”, its a movie about robot teachers….soooo bad, but real funny if your into B movies).

I should start by explaining how this journey started. I started googling “best platforms for online learning” a list came up and I had never heard of any of them… so I clicked on the first one, it didn’t take long to realize these were platforms set up to take online courses rather than teach online courses…. but bare with me!

” a list came up and I had never heard of any of them… so I clicked on the first one, it didn’t take long to realize these were platforms set up to take online courses rather than teach online courses…. but bare with me!

I’d like to make it clear at this point that I know very little about this site (Udemy) in particular and am using it as an example based on the philosophy for which it stands and not ALL the content it holds, as I am sure there are other sites I am unaware of that may be better…. (teachers pay teachers)?

It didn’t take long to see that there were a lot of really cool things on Udemy. From science to art you could search and download entire courses on almost anything you could think of, and all for $12.99….

So… does this mean I can use it in my classroom… without a pending lawsuit for copyright infringement? (I am sure that like me, you never photocopy books for fear of breaking copyright rules…)

Well, the answer to that is I am not sure… There was a place during checkout where I proclaimed that I am an educator and part of a school.. was that them giving me permission to use this with the 60+ guitar students I will have this term? I doubt it, but at this point it doesn’t matter. For all intents and purposes of this conversation, it’s the idea of this mass resource availability that I am interested in and not this particular course.

I purchased the guitar course for $12.00, it has 35+ hours of video that from what I have seen is very good. It has downloadable pdf files with wonderful and appropriate learning materials. The guy is literally a professional musician and has over a million subscribers… my qualifications to teach guitar are an Ed. degree (which has nothing to do with music) and a dusty bass guitar that I play in the third worst band in Moose Jaw (I reserve the 3rd worst spot because there has to be at least two bands worse than us).. Anyhow I digress, let’s answer some of the questions in this weeks blog options.

What is good about it?

It is laid out into different units of study based on ability. It starts with the very basics and builds to the advanced player. Erich Andreas, is a professional musician that did a great job of organizing a user friendly course. (Check out the picture gallery at the end), It couples instruction with what I would consider an appropriate amount of theory. The best part of this is, its available to me anywhere that has an internet signal, my instructor will follow me wherever I go. I could annoy people at the coffee shop, the library, the school, my house, the park… wherever I wanted! Think about the possibilities… Just you and your computer on top of a mountain playing a bad version of wonderwall!


What this course does… not so good

Well, this course is made to take at home, so it is not tied to any curriculum. (That being said, it handily meets all the requirements in our locally developed curriculum). It does not come with any form of assessment, because there is no accreditation that comes with this course there is no need to assess learning.

I understand that this is not a site intended to be a teaching resource, and there are sites designed to share resources for teachers… don’t leave yet, the point is in site!

Here is what it means!

Imagine for a minute that teachers didn’t have to spend hundreds of hours preparing and designing a course, that they could go to a computer, download it and boom… done. let’s get started. Before you all go crazy and start yelling things at me about diverse classrooms, modifications and learning styles.. lets just pretend that these courses were designed by professionals… and you could modify as needed however the bones of the course were all there.

Who, as a teacher has not started teaching a new course, with nothing. spending an entire summer creating a course, that you have never taught, wasting countless hours on things you never used. I have, I have also seen with my own eyes a retiring teacher spend a full day shredding their grade 8 course, because they thought the next teacher should find their own resources. wowee..

So, with the emergence of online and blended classes becoming more and more common, why would teachers reinvent the wheel. WHY wouldn’t you pay $12.00 for a course, and spend the summer familiarising, adapting personalising said course…? at the lake, with cool glass of whatever tickles your fancy. I believe these types of resource sharing and or common curriculum will shadow the growth of online classes, why wouldn’t it? I fear though that the one thing you could be sure of, is the price likely wouldn’t remain $12.00.

What does that mean for teachers?

I don’t know… there are a lot of interesting ideas with this. Will these changes occur during our careers, or lifetimes? I don’t know.. but I do know that working to be current in your field is never a bad thing.

Photo gallery of class


Guitar 90 Course Profile

Introduction to guitar.


This course is designed for to be a grade 9 survey course, this means it will be 50 hours (half a semester). Our division does 50 hour intro classes to give students exposure to a variety of different electives. This class is designed but not limited to students with little to no guitar experience.


This will be a blended class with elements that are self paced and asynchronous. I chose to do a blended/asynchronous class because I believe this is a good way to cater to diverse student needs. For the online portion of this class I will be using google classroom.

Historically speaking, there have been on average 18 students per class. Something that I must be quickly do is assess student’s guitar knowledge/ability, in the past I have had very diverse classrooms. Out of those 18 students, there vast differences in skill sets they bring to the class. I start the class by making three different groups, (near the end of the class there could be as many as 8 groups). For the first group there are typically 2-3 of students that would be considered “advanced” This means that they are students that can play songs and have a good core knowledge of guitar and perhaps musical theory. The second group is usually the largest, they perhaps own a guitar or have at one point tried to learn a song and/or know how to play another instrument. This is the middle group and would be the largest group, typically making up about half the class. That leaves the third group, this group usually has about 5 people in it and they have no prior musical experience. We will call this the beginner group.

The face to face part of the time would occur in a regular class format, an hour per day in a scheduled class room. Students learn about parts of the guitar, basic music theory and of course how to play the guitar. This part of the class is easy to teach as a large group, as many students have not learned a lot of guitar theory. When it comes to playing guitar, this is when grouping students based on ability becomes essential. It is not my intention to make them feel segregated, I explain that this is designed to put students into places where they can be most successful. The beginners group requires a lot of one on one teaching at the beginning of the course and often students move from the beginner to intermediate group. The intermediate and advanced group can often work together at the beginning learning new songs that we will use as a warm up song while I teach basic skills to those that need it.

The online part of this class becomes essential for the individual growth of students. I will assign individual homework assignments to students based on what would make be the next logical step in their progression. At this point I become more of a curator of knowledge I look for and find videos and other resources students can use to further their learning.


This class will use different assessments, there are quizzes on music theory, research papers on music history and the will create and submit videos to keep track of weekly progress are submitted via google classroom. This is both an assessment and a celebration of learning, it is always fun for students to compare videos of themselves playing at the beginning of class.

The videos will be marked using attached rubric. (as soon as I can figure out how to attach it)

Special Considerations

One drawback to a blended class is not all students will have access to internet. The online portion of this class could be looked at as enrichment, but is not necessary. I have access to iPads and chrome books for students to use during school time, they can be given time to do their weekly video during class to ensure they have access to everything they need to submit their work. If they cannot use google classroom to supplement their learning at home, then I would have to meet their needs in either more face to face time, partnering them with someone with similar learning goals, or finding ways for them to access the online material.

Anyone have any online guitar resources??

Guitar 90- outcomes

Aural Skills AS10.1 Demonstrate aural perception of expressive and structural elements at work within a musical composition Identify expressive elements such as dynamics, timbre and articulation in a selection of music, both studied through listening and playingIdentify structural elements such as pulse, tempo, and pitch in a selection of music, both studied through listening and playingIdentify musical styles from within historical and cultural contexts studied (ex. Rock, Jazz, decade music, etc.)
AS10.2 Activate the inner ear to facilitate interpreting written musical ideas Create a simple original guitar compositionRearrange a well-known folk or traditional song through changing musical elements of the song.
AS 10.3 Demonstrate increased skills with ear training Demonstrate the ability to tune the guitar by matching pitch.Demonstrate chord recognition (major, minor, dominant 7th) through playing a variety of music.Use rote playing to demonstrate melodic echoes or dictations.
Music Literacy ML 10.4 Use musical notation and tablature to interpret and express musical ideas. Play a variety of music demonstrating their understanding of tablature.Use musical notation or tablature in a small original composition.
ML 10.5 Demonstrate understanding of music reading abilities including treble clef notes, rhythmic values, time signatures, pick up notes, key signatures, etc. Identify all notes in first position in treble clef.Identify rhythmic values (quarter notes, half notes, etc.) in own music and the music of others.Play rhythmic values in a variety of time signatures (2/4, 3/4, 4/4).Explore a variety of musical symbols such as repeat signs, tied notes, pick up notes, etc.
ML 10.6 Demonstrate understanding of musical techniques such as scales, chords, chording techniques, and finger picking. Identify and play major scale construction (in three keys) in first position.Play a full chromatic scale in first position.Play a variety of open string chords as well as E form (six string) barre chords.Play music using a brush stroke with thumb, nail or pick.Demonstrate to use the fingerstyle arpeggiation of chords using p‐i‐m‐a
Interpretation/Appreciation/Decision-Making IA10.7 Understand and appreciate musical expressions from a wide variety of cultural and historical contexts. including contemporary societies View and listen to a range of traditional and contemporary music selections from around the world.Explore and share brief biographical and historical information arising from the repertoire studied.Use the Internet and other sources to identify, discuss and analyze musical expressions from a variety of different cultures and periods throughout history.
IA 10.8 Understand and interpret musical works from a variety of cultural and historical contexts Perform a particular type of music in a stylistically appropriate manner. (styles may include jazz, folk, rock, etc.)Recognize and identify the significant stylistic characteristics of the music of various historical style period.

Experience and perceptions of blended learning.

My teaching assignment is woods 9-12 and guitar 9-11. It is a wonderful job, I can’t imagine a better job. I get to work with my hands and see ideas and hard work rewarded with a physical representation of student learning. Learning they can hold in their hands or demonstrate on guitar. I believe this feeling is something that is greatly under appreciated until later in life. I couldn’t count how many adults talk to me about learning to do wood working or play guitar or fix old vehicles. Adults are searching for a missing piece in their lives, now more than ever in our modern-day workplace where a large portion of the population does not see the final product of their work, they crave the fulfillment of completing something.


 I believe that the ease of which you can learn something online has started a resurgence of DIY’ers. This isn’t something new, my father talks about waiting for weeks for books to arrive in the mail that were step by step instructions on DIY projects, and they were VERY well done. You could get these manuals for everything, from home electrical to bicycle repair. I think that classrooms will inevitably become more and more blended, some are better suited than others for it, but I believe that is what the future for teaching looks like.

A wood shop as you can imagine is not that well suited for an online class, however it is a blended classroom, we use the internet as an educational tool often. There are several occasions where I will have students watch videos on a tool operation. I find this is an effective way to enrich learning for some students when I do not have time to teach them one on one. These videos are not a stand-alone instruction tool, but it offers a great deal of background knowledge to students who I then instruct individually before their independent work.

I also teach a construction class called Theatre Arts, in this class we build the sets and props for the musical. I learn something new daily, for example this year we built a suite of armour from hobby foam. Where did we learn how? Youtube. It was up to them to find a resource to teach us how, be a critical learner, does this video explain things in a way that makes sense? Do we have the resources available to do this? Teaching students how to find good resources online whether it is for construction or music related is an important skill, arguably more important than building a suit of armour. Why do I say arguably? Because those students learned a very important lesson, you CAN build a suit of armour. You CAN explore and learn and fail… and persevere and finally, you CAN succeed. These are my experiences in blended classrooms, they aren’t all success stories, but they are all lessons.

A Luddite’s journey.

Samwise Gamgee (while he created a blog for the first time..)

It’s not that I dislike technology, I have no disdain towards computers or the time that people spend with them. In fact I am often very impressed with new tech and how it is changing our day to day life. However, I am slowly drifting further from the mainstream, like a boat on the edge of a current I spin between the still waters behind and the fast paced ones ahead. The lack of a rudder on my metaphorical boat is a draw that I always felt towards the old, the traditional, the forgotten and often impractical ways of doing things.

Growing up on a ranch in southern Saskatchewan was a childhood filled with love, hard work, family, learning, hard work, long bus rides, hard work, and hard work. There will always be a special place in my heart for doing things the old fashioned way. Saddling up a horse and bringing in the heard takes a lot more time and effort than jumping in the truck, but you’d never know the sweet smell of saddle soap or the connection to that old horse by sitting in the truck.

I sat and listened to my grandfather and his friends talk about the “good ole days” , never thinking that I would look back at it with such tenderness. He taught me to problem solve and look at things very differently than most people. We lived 70 miles from the nearest town with a parts store, so when something broke we fixed it with what we had on the farm. The internet wasn’t even a thought, if you didn’t know how to do something, you would phone a neighbour, or read a book and try your best. This mentality of ” I can do that” has stayed with me and has been the foundation of a great deal of successful undertakings… and also a great deal of failed attempts, but I chalk that up to the learning curve!

I often think of what Grandpa Claude would think of technology. Would he hate it? I honestly don’t think he would. I find most people misplace their frustrations with technology. A lack of understanding manifests itself onto the physical presence of a computer or tablet. It isn’t the computer that created the angst, but people can’t yell at an invisible internet, (That would look kind of funny) so they take their frustrations out on the physical portal of technology, ex.- the computer.

The reason I believe he, like most innovators would have embraced it is this. He religiously read magazine, newspaper articles and watched things like Prairie Farm Report. PFR was a television program that featured farmers from across Canada and showcased their inventions, ideas and unique perspectives. A lot of things on our farm were inspired by these types of informal lessons.

I argue that youtube and other online formats of learning are not new, they are just modern version of popular science, or Prairie Farm Report or the many other ways people would learn and explore new ideas. Youtube has compressed all of that information into one place, making an infinite number of questions immediately answerable to anyone with a wifi signal. To make my point even further, I learned how to make this blog from the internet. A seemingly perpetual motion of knowledge, to learn about the internet from the internet.

So, as I continue my journey deeper into the internet, with each step venturing further away from the comfort of my own ignorance, I find comfort in the idea that I am simultaneously becoming more like my grandfather. Seeking information to follow an idea and turn dreams into reality.

The Journey Begins

A first try.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton


This is a first attempt at being a part of the vast digital world. As a person who often looks to the past in a world going forward this should be a challenging and comedic journey. As I learn more about technology I hope to share perspective on the importance of our analog roots.