How to Bring Blended Learning to my Organization

Reflecting on what I’ve learned about disruptive innovation, I have decided to work toward implementing a blended learning model in my classroom. There are countless benefits to blended learning; it really is the best of both worlds: online and in-class instruction. I began my journey with a literature review to gain a thorough understanding of what blended learning is. My research proved that blended learning is an exciting way to engage learners when done correctly, and can lead to deeper learning and better grades.

Even though I’m already convinced that blended learning would be an asset to our school, I need to discuss my plan with my program director and academic dean before I can implement any changes to our current curriculum. I created a short video that highlights the advantages of blended learning. I also developed a Power Point presentation to elaborate more on what blended learning is and what it can do for our students and our dental hygiene program.

Any successful change needs to be planned carefully, so it was crucial to construct a plan with a timeline to guide my steps toward implementation. It will be flexible, to allow for changes to the plan as needed. It’s exciting to think about the way this plan can impact our organization for the better, but I expect there will be some pushback in the beginning from administration and maybe even some students. I believe that after they see the benefits, all the naysayers will become believers! 3-reasons-blended-learning

As new ideas and new research emerges, I will continue to explore other ways to bring innovation and change that will benefit our students. I will stay current with my edWeb membership so I can network with other educators and take CE regarding digital resources for education. I will also continue my membership with the American Dental Educators Association, and attend workshops and webinars regarding dental education. As digital technology continues to explode with new applications for education, the need to stay current will be imperative.


For further information, here is a list of resources for blended learning:

Blended Learning Implementation Guide.

Christensen, C., Horn, M., Soares, L., & Caldera, L. (2011). Disrupting College. Retrieved from

Christensen, Clayton M.; Horn, Michael (2008), Disrupting class: how disruptive innovation will change the way the world learns, New York, New York, USA: McGraw-Hill, ISBN 978-0-07-159206-2.

 Christensen, Clayton M.; Raynor, Michael E. (2003), The innovator’s solution: creating and sustaining successful growth. Boston, Massachusetts, USA: Harvard Business School Press, ISBN 978-1-57851-852-4.

 Horizon Report. (2016). Higher Education Edition. Retrieved from

Horn, M. & Staker, H. (2014). Blended. Jossey-Bass, ISBN 1118955153

Morrison, D. (2013). Is Blended Learning the Best of Both Worlds? Retrieved from               https://onlinelearninginsights.wordpres

Michael Horn: Benefits of Online and Blended Learning Models.

Michael Horn- Blended and Disrupted, How to Make Blended Learning Work for Students and Teachers.

Vander Ark, T. (2014). Blended: A Conversation with Michael Horn and Heather Staker. Retrieved from



A Plan to Implement Blended Learning


I.                   First Year  blended%20learning%20header-01-01-01

A.                 Gather as much supportive information as possible for blended learning models.

B.                  Survey my students on their needs and wants regarding a blended learning environment.

C.                  Discuss the results of my survey and the benefits of blended learning with the Program Director and Academic Dean. Request permission to restructure my classes as a pilot study for our DH program.

D.                 Courses will be restructured with half of learning occurring online and the other half in the classroom. I will plan my courses one at a time in the following order beginning with Cohort 8:

1.                  Radiography                                                           3-reasons-blended-learning

2.                  Embryology and Histology

3.                  Oral Pathology

4.                  Ethics and Law in Dental Hygiene

5.                  National Board Review

D.  Provide ongoing feedback to PD and Academic Dean regarding progress

II.                 Second Year

A.                 Implement the changes for my first class: Radiography

1.                  Evaluate student outcomes by comparing previous class averages for quizzes and exams

2.                  Survey student satisfaction

3.                  Request suggestions for improvement from students

4.                  Make changes as needed

B.                  Report outcomes to PD and Academic Dean

C.                  Implement the changes for Embryology and Histology

1.                  Begin with making adjustments based on results from Radiography

2.                  Evaluate student outcomes by comparing previous class averages for quizzes and exams

3.                  Survey student satisfaction

4.                  Request suggestions for improvement from students

5.                  Make changes as needed

D.                 Continue the process for the other classes, carefully tracking student outcomes and student satisfaction

E.                  Assess any differences in achievement for my subjects on the DH National Board Exam for Cohort 8. Compare scores from previous Cohorts with Cohort 8 and also assess performance in my subjects vs. other subjects taught the traditional way

III.              Third Year

A.                 Assemble a report with my findings for each class and the National Board Exam results. Include feedback from students. Share report with the PD and Academic Dean

B.                  Convince PD and Dean to encourage other instructors to adopt a blended learning approach, based on the success of my courses using a blended approach

C.                  Continue evaluating and improving teaching methods, materials and outcomes for my blended learning courses for Cohort 9

Further reading:



My Personal Learning Manifesto

My Personal Learning Manifesto

            When I was a child, I was constantly praised by my teachers. My parents proudly told everyone about my straight A report cards, and that I was in the GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) program. The school system worked for me. I quickly figured out how everything works: study the material, listen, follow directions. It was practically a matter of figuring out the teacher and their expectations, then delivering what they wanted. I’m naturally a visual and audial learner, so lectures are actually enjoyable for me. I’ve always loved listening to other people talk, soaking in their ideas.

Nicole 2015 221 The system worked for me. I excelled at test-taking. It’s practically a game: figure out what the wrong answers are and           deduce from there. Remember the material for a couple weeks until it all gets dumped out of your head. It’s really no wonder I became a teacher. I fell in love with the game of school because I was good at it.

Don’t get me wrong. I love learning- true learning. I love the type of learning that ignites those pleasure sensors in my brain. I would rather watch a documentary or the History Channel than an episode of Friends (although those are good sometimes too).

Some of the documentaries I like to watch are on scientific topics. Before I went into dental hygiene, I was a Biology major at San Diego State University. One of the things that I find fascinating is how organisms are wired to seek out pleasure. It truly drives our behavior. Eating is pleasurable, so we seek food. Sex is pleasurable so species can continue. John Stuart Mill, a philosopher and proponent of Utilitarianism, argued that there are biological pleasures like those previously mentioned, and higher pleasures that have even more value for humanity (Beemsterbauer, 2010). Learning is one of the higher pleasures. I would argue that winning is one too. Reflecting on my past, it’s possible that school was often a place where the prize wasn’t always learning; it was winning.

Sir Ken Robinson explains in his video the original intent of modern-day education. In the Industrial Age, factory workers were in demand, so schools focused on creating them. The goal was to create workers who respected authority (TED, 2007). Seth Grogin makes the same argument. Education today breeds conformity, not innovation. The question really is “what is the purpose of education?” (TEDxYouth, 2012). Is it learning or conformity?

If learning is the prize, then everyone should be able to succeed. Children naturally want to learn everything they can about the world around them; it’s part of our DNA. If learning is the prize, then everyone wins. If winning is the prize, there will always be losers. Tests are designed to categorize us. We are constantly comparing ourselves to others, and if a student receives a bad grade, he feels like he lost. There’s no pleasure in losing, so for those who can’t win at the game of school, there’s little incentive to continue.

This assignment really made me question what I’m doing right now as a teacher vs. what I should be doing. I want to improve how I deliver the material I teach in ways that spark questions and creativity. I want to understand my students better and figure out how they learn best. I’m fortunate in the fact that I teach dental hygiene. My students already have an interest in what they’re learning, so the motivation is there initially. My goal is to capture that motivation and encourage it, get them engaged in what they’re learning so they can connect all the dots and apply the information.

I’ve seen students become discouraged with the program many times. The material is difficult, and it’s fast paced. CODA (The Commission on Dental Accreditation) decides what the curriculum consists of. In order to become a hygienist, the students have to achieve three accomplishments: graduate from the program, pass the National Board Exam, and pass a clinical exam. So often, the focus is on those exams. When I began teaching, I was told to “teach to the tests”.

I understand the importance of teaching the material they’ll see on their Boards. I don’t agree with forcing them to memorize information so they can pass a multiple-choice test. What I really want is for them to keep the passion for the profession that I love.

One of the ways that I can ignite their passion for dentistry is to give them more choices and freedom with their assignments. I could allow them more avenues to explore and express their chosen topics, such as video, writing, or presentations with Prezi or Powtoon, etc. I can use technology for formative assessments to evaluate who needs more help. I can encourage them to keep digital journals of their experiences as hygiene students that they could share with subsequent cohorts. Some of them may want to create blogs or websites for dental hygiene students. I should encourage them to express their creativity in ways that suit them.

The flipped classroom approach is something I would also like to try. Instead of listening to myself talk for 30 minutes, the students could spend that time discussing the information in small groups. When I do need to lecture in class, I could use technology to present more appealing visuals and sounds. I’ve learned from this class how valuable personalized feedback is, and I like the idea of providing video feedback for assignments.

I feel that very often, the kinesthetic learners are the ones who suffer most in a traditional classroom environment. For the kinesthetic learners, taking notes on their laptops while I talk would help them absorb the information better. Getting them to answer questions on their phones or laptops would engage the kinesthetic learners, as would using Aurasma while they walk around the class, scanning pictures and objects. Technology has appeal to almost everyone, and I believe it’s a great tool to engage students and get them excited about learning.

The main goal of education should be learning, not conforming. I’m not a dictator at the front of the classroom, judging who makes it and who doesn’t. All my students deserve to learn everything they can about their passion for dentistry. The last thing I want to do is kill their passion. I will be approachable, empathetic, patient, kind, and inspiring. I will be a role model for them, and encourage them to learn in ways that work for them. When we expect everyone to conform to one way of learning, some will lose. If we help them along their journey with support so they truly learn, everyone will win. This is the way education should be.





Beemsterbauer, P. (2010). Ethics and Law in Dental Hygiene. United States: Saunders.

TEDxYouth. (2012, October 16). Stop Stealing Dreams|Seth Godin|TED Talks [Video file]. Retrieved from

TED. (2007, January 6). Do schools kill creativity|Sir Ken Robinson|TED Talks [Video file]. Retrieved from

Creating Movies for your Class

Currently, I’m teaching DH 226, Ethics and Law in Dental Hygiene. The students enjoy the case studies and debating issues in class; it can actually get pretty heated sometimes! Even though they like the interactive part of the class, I’ve found that they have a hard time grasping the three theories of ethics. So, one day I decided to make a video that would simplify the theories for them. It was a big hit!

The video was easy to make. First, I decided on a theme and planned the movie script and story board. I used Paint to draw each slide (they’re stick figures), then imported the images (in order- VERY important!) to Windows MovieMaker. I imported a song for the background, and completed the voiceover with my family. With MovieMaker, edits are easy and you can add credits at the end. It was a fun project, and now I use it every time I teach the class. Take a look at mine and give it a try!


Digital Learning Tools

As a teacher, I have to keep my students engaged and interested in what they’re learning. It’s also my job to make sure they are learning. I can tell if my students are mastering the material by using formative and summative assessments. Both types are important. Summative assessments are basically tests at the end of a unit or course that measures how much the students learned. Formative assessments are check points- such as little mini quizzes with no point value assigned to them. They’re used to gauge whether or not my students are mastering the material and what they need more help with. Formative assessments could be seen as taking the pulse of a classroom. If a teacher is using them, there should be no surprise test scores.53db794fb76b79467eefe848550d0f0e

I like playing games in the classroom. Most students like the competition and excitement- even adults! Two of my favorites are games on and Here’s an example of a Kahoot I created for my Radiography class: