Connecting Link Blog Posts

What is “blended learning” and how can it help ME?

It is a “blend” of classroom site-based, face-to-face learning time, and online self-paced learning where students can in some way control the time, the pace and the place learning takes place.

For an educator, time is valuable. While you need professional learning, sitting in a classroom seat for the required instructional time of a graduate-level course may not always be the most efficient way for you to learn.

Online learning allows students to work from home and on their own time, but this approach can take a lot of self-control and focus. It may also be difficult to keep up with deadlines and assignments if navigating technology is not one of your strengths. Having a blend of both delivery modes can be a highly effective way to learn, and often allows students to easily comprehend the knowledge they want to gain. This method supports educators as they balance their time between their continuing education, life, and daily workloads.

The beauty of blended learning is that it allows students to choose the place and time and sometimes pace of when they do the research or self-study portion of a course. Then students meet with fellow students and the facilitator at a physical site and complete projects, have discussions, or get questions answered through dialogue in a face-to-face environment.

How It Works at The Connecting Link

After students register for a course, they receive the syllabus and curriculum either online or at the first class held at the site-based classroom. Students are responsible for getting online, accessing the online classroom, and doing the assigned research, reading, watching online video presentations, and/or self-study on their own time outside of the classroom. When students return to the site-based classroom at the scheduled time, it is a time to get questions answered, collaborate on the course content, work on group projects, and gain insight from other students. In some aspects, this may mirror concepts of a “” for teachers.

Blended learning courses allow you to experience learning through both online course activities, as well as with the Instructor and fellow educators in some face-to-face, classroom learning work. Register for blended learning as a “Site-Based” course so you are aware of the location and meeting times of the Site-based portions.

The Connecting Link offers a blending learning environment, in addition to their site-based, self-paced and structured online course environments to accommodate for the educator’s busy schedule.

Written by Jennifer Marrow

Differentiated Instruction Educator Education

Whenever I hear the title of the website I always think of a Tom Cruise movie from years ago….well this site is just as amazing as him.  I have been using for years in my math classroom to add some pizzazz and more.

Let me tell you about This is a website that students or teachers can record their voice and have exported as an .mp4 file and more.  I usually have students export it is a QR code and here is why.  When students make a poster presentation it’s great and beautiful, but I want to know more.  So I have students record themselves giving the presentation and talking more about the items on their board, to access this information all I have to do is scan the QR code with any smart device.  Even better is when the posters are in the hallway students can scan and hear more about the presentations too.    

This is not all about presentations either, I have used it on tests were students scan the code and hear how to solve the problem or information about the problem.  I have to tip my hat to some Foreign Language teachers years ago that were using this in their class to record dialogue and they shared their success stories with me about

How do you use or what other game changing technologies/apps are you using? Tutorial


Written by Paul Wright. Paul is a teacher in IL, and a veteran TCL Instructor. He has also written a few courses for The Connecting Link, including these new ones launching Fall 2017:

  • The Google Infused Teacher: Advanced Applications of Google Classroom and Chrome
  • Technology Tools for the Digital Teacher
  • LGBTQ Students: Meeting Academic, Social, and Emotional Needs
  • Integrating STEAM Into Your Curriculum
  • Advanced iPad Applications: Collaborate, Create, Communicate, and Asses

Differentiated Instruction Educator Education

There’s an answer for educators that I greatly dislike, to the question of whether grad credits or non-credits (clock hours) are better.

When I was getting my doctoral degree, to almost every question ever asked of a certain professor the answer was nearly always, “It depends.” While most often I seek a simple, directive answer to my questions, I’ve come to value the, “It depends” answer.

Working with certificated K-12 educators, a common question we receive is, “Are grad credits or non-credit course completions better?” (whether you refer to non-credit courses as PGPs, PDPs, Clock Hours or some such name). The grid of questions below may help inform the answer best for you:

  • What criteria, in your state, is required to renew your teaching certificate?
    • Whether you’re in need of converting your initial teaching certificate to a continuing certificate may make a difference.
  • Is there a required blend of credits and non-credits in your state for renewal of your teaching certificate?
    • If so, how many of each have you completed since your certificate renewal date?
  • To make more money in your school district (while keeping your teaching certificate in place), are salary steps dependent upon grad credits or non-credit professional development hours?
  • Does your school district place additional criteria on attributes of professional learning? For example, are there guidelines regarding content areas acceptable for use in progressing on the salary schedule?
  • Does your district provide reimbursement to you for professional development learning? If so, are there conditions regarding if your accomplishments are for grad credit or not?

When it comes to the question of whether grad credits or professional development non-credit hours are best…it depends.

At The Connecting Link, we exist to provide educators valuable professional learning opportunities, to help people like you become even more effective in your work. From grad credits through a variety of university partners, to non-credit courses, we can help meet your professional learning needs. Hopefully considering the questions above will help you to determine the answer best for your continued, professional learning (and pocket book!).


Written by Heidi Scott, PhD, Superintendent of The Connecting Link

Educator Education