Leaders discuss taking online learning from an alternative to a “must”

Because we need to reach today’s generation

Bergmann3300By Jon Bergmann,

When I first started teaching in 1986, the resources I had available to me were limited to: a box provided by the publisher of my textbook, a three-ring binder of curriculum provided by the district, and/or whatever I had in my head. Contrast this with 2015, where teachers not only have publisher materials and their own learning, but also a plethora of online information, simulations, lesson plans, and videos.

Should teachers embrace elements of online teaching into their daily practice or can they afford to teach out of “the box”? In 2014, Project Tomorrow did a survey of over 500,000 parents, students, teachers, and administrators. They included a few questions about how flipped learning, a teaching method which uses teacher-created online videos to maximize face-to-face time, should impact schools. The survey found that:

“School administrators are expecting new teachers to know how to flip their classrooms prior to completing their certification process. Last year, 41 percent of school leaders indicated that pre-service teachers should “know how to set up a flipped learning classroom,” this year that increased to 46 percent.”

This survey shows that there is an expectation that educators be prepared to teach in new and innovative ways – specifically utilizing flipped learning methodology. Teachers must employ instructional techniques which engage students in the process of learning.

We stand at a powerful moment in the world of education, where educators can leverage technology to bring about personalized learning for every student. The ultimate winners in this new era will be the students. Let’s face it: we are teaching the YouTube generation. Online media is out there and it is ubiquitous for our students. The time is now to embrace digital learning as a means to reach today’s generation.

Jon Bergmann is chief learning officer for, and was a classroom teacher for 24 years where he pioneered the Flipped Class movement. He is now an author, speaker, and educational thought leader.

Online is today’s language

gregorfreund300By Gregor Freund, Versal

Today’s students–often referred to as ‘digital natives’–grew up with apps. These are the kids who, when the iPhone first came out eight years ago, were toddlers. In most cases, this generation learned to interface with technology as they learned to speak and comprehend. Today, technology can be considered a first language.

As a result, technology is quickly becoming one of the most commonly used ‘languages’ in today’s classroom. We’re building Versal around the belief that using technology to teach these students is essential for students, teachers, schools and the broader educational experience to thrive in the years ahead.

To use Versal as an example, we offer teachers a canvas for creative educational publishing. At the core are customizable and interactive ‘gadgets’ that empower teachers to create compelling online content and engage these tech-savvy students. As big fans of open ecosystems, we also give those teachers an online platform to publish their work and share it with students in their everyday learning environments (LMSs, Chromebooks, blogs, class websites etc.). Teachers also work together to build curriculum materials and share it among themselves. This sort of creativity and collaboration is key for ed-tech to reach its full potential.

Gregor Freund is the CEO of Versal, an online learning creation platform.

(Next page: Competitive advantage; tomorrow’s teachers)