As I was reading Wellington’s article (2005), I couldn’t help but think that these are the questions that we constantly asking in our office when it comes to using technology in the classroom.
From a vocational standpoint, Wellington (2005) suggests that we need to be teaching students transferable skills for the workplace (p.29). This is something I really try to get across to teachers. Teaching them a specific tool that will be outdated within a few months or years is not helpful for our students, rather they need to understand the process of planning, implementing and revising. For example, students creating movies need to understand building scripts and storyboards, different film shots, etc. From there whether it is iMovie or another video editing software it doesn’t matter because the skills are at the core. There are a ton of tools to foster collaboration but it is more important for students to understand how to collaborate rather than what tool to collaborate with. These are the types of skills that can be transferred to any discipline or workplace not just restricted to a school setting.
I am constantly asking teachers if the use of technology is adding value to their learning. If they simple are replacing one tool for a technology tool, it isn’t transforming the learning. We need to push the integration further to make it have a purpose to change how students experience learning.
I am currently looking at how we can measure the impact of iPads and technology in general in our early years. Does it make a difference? Is it necessary? Just because we have technology doesn’t mean that we need to use it if it doesn’t enhance our pedagogy. Teachers need to understand how to choose the right context for technology integration in order for it to really add value to the learning (Wellington, 2005, p. 32).
From a societal point of view (Wellington, 2005, p. 26), it is interesting to look at how formal learning of ICT impacts ICT at home and vice versa. Are teachers really using the tools kids want to use? Does it make sense to use those tools? What about just choosing aspects of those tools? Our students are well versed in technology but it doesn’t eliminate the need to still facilitate learning as home and school ICT use often are quite different.
A number of the faulty assumptions about ICT are ones that still have relevance in my own school setting. Teachers do not change their teaching just because they have technology (Bain & Weston, 2012, 7). It is difficult for teachers to unlearn and relearn how to teach using technology in meaningful ways. Similarly, as students have more technology, it doesn’t meant they will be better at technology or achieve higher results (Bain & Weston, 2012, 8). Rather, students with technology just have a greater variety of tools to show their learning and understanding. Sometimes technology can help them share their voice more effectively, this showing the learning in more apparent ways.
Bain, A. & Weston, M.E. (2012). The Learning Edge: What Technology Can Do to Educate All Children. New York: Teacher's College Press.
Wellington, J. (2005). Has ICT come of age? Recurring debates on the role of ICT in education, 1982-2004. Research In Science & Technological Education,23(1), 25-39.
Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2001) suggested that the majority of teachers in US are not computer users. If teachers aren’t using the tools, then the impact on teaching and learning is not present. In my international school setting, this is not the case at all. All of our teachers are provided with a laptop when they begin with our school and receive training on them. There is an expectation that attendance, grading, reports, planning are all on our LMS systems. Thus, technology use is not an option rather a mandate as part of being an employee at the school. In terms of teaching and learning, much of this is also done digitally, however, not mandated in the same way. That being said, with digital resources for classes, teaching teams can share the workload easily by sharing resources with a click of a button. Teachers can view student work using tools such as Teacher Dashboard easily to support them with their work without having to take bags of workbooks home to review.
Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2001) suggested we need to know more than how often students are turning on computers but rather what students are doing with them while they are on. If it is simple drill and kill practice all of the time, the impact on learning will be minimal as they are not developing skills that are transferable in other scenarios.
As I was reading about Cuban, Kirkpatrick & Peck (2001) study, I felt our school had much more access to technology than the schools in the study who had computer labs. With a 1-to-1 programme at our school, each student has access to connectivity and software at all times whether at home or school, thus, increasing the use of computers. Teachers do not have to worry about booking the lab or if the internet connection will be working. This allows for technology to be used at a moment’s notice in class or left to the side of the table when not needed. The 1-to-1 programme allows for technology to just be another tool for students to use if deemed necessary.
Somekh (2004) outlines 4 examples of institutional resistance to change in the article. ICT is often seen as a separate subject rather than being integrated into every subject. Teachers often use one-size fits all, a linear model where they start from scratch and teach all the skills rather than differentiating for the needs of the students who are well advanced. Access to technology is compounded by the kinds of ICT use. Finally schools restrict access to a number of websites out of fear of the unknown and need to be extra cautious in schools. What we have learnt is, that in order for technology to be effective, it needs to become a part of the human activity (p. 177).
I think there will always be resistance to new technologies entering into the educational realm. Geoffrey Moore’s book ‘Crossing the Chasm’ (2001) outlines that there is always going to be a bell curve when it comes to technology starting from technology enthusiasts who are willing to try anything as soon as it is available to the sceptics who are the last to give in to technology initiatives if ever. I actually think this is a good thing. It is good to have a variety of perspectives and varying adopting times. It gives the visionaries time to try it out and imagine where it can go which convinces the pragmatists and conservatives to make the transition once there is some proof it will work. When I run trials with new technology tools, this is exactly how I approach it. I access those most willing to try, see what the results are, reflect and analyse if this is the best move forward as a school and use this data to help move the school forward.
In my school, technology is not just the responsibility of one teacher. Rather it is the expectation that all teachers teach ICT within their classrooms. As the Technology Coach, I support teachers in doing this but at the end of the day, we all need to weave ICT into our lessons when appropriate. This takes the ownership of ICT off just a single specialist, just like we are all language teachers to an extent. Integration of subjects has become the norm not that anomaly. As a school who uses a transdisciplinary approach to learning through the IB framework, students have all subjects being intertwined.
As I am reading the articles by Somekh (2004), I wonder what his findings would be today 12 years later. Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001)’s article is now about 15 years after it was written. What are the more recent studies arguing about the impact or lack thereof with technology? Is there really as much discrepancy between home and school? When my students were doing something at home (ie 3D printing), we found a way to bring it into the classroom. I let the students drive their own learning and incorporated the tools they wanted to use. I use Edmodo to mimic Facebook for privacy, age restrictions and safety but still allowing them the social aspect of media. With a student who struggled with creating content and developing his e-Portfolio, I used a mobile device with Blogger to mimic what he was doing with Instagram on his own time. Are these the same tools they are using at home - no. But they are replicating their uses at home in an appropriate and safe way for educational purposes. Because I was making the effort for them, they were also making the effort and I saw improved work quality and quantity. Technology can have a positive impact on learning, community and teaching if used in authentic, meaningful and innovative ways.
Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: Explaining an apparent paradox.American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 813–834.
Moore, G. A. (1991). Crossing the chasm: Marketing and selling technology products to mainstream customers. New York, N.Y.: HarperBusiness.
Somekh, B. (2004). Taking the sociological imagination to school: an analysis of the (lack of) impact of information and communication technologies on education systems. Technology, pedagogy and education, 13(2), 163-179.
As the Education Technology Coach at my school, it is my role to support teachers and students in using technology in authentic and meaningful ways. Thus, for this course, I will focus on the transdisciplinary learning in a primary classroom using the International Baccalaureate programme.
With the IB, there is no set curriculum, rather it is a framework of learning. Within our school, we have a scope and sequence for the various subjects that is integrated into the units of inquiry. Our school has no specific ICT curriculum. Rather, the units integrate technology where appropriate.
From this perspective, the curriculum is often taught using technology for teaching and learning. My focus though, is teaching transferable skills using technology. For example, communication skills like viewing and presenting are taught through the use of technology. Students construct visuals using technology tools such as Google Drawing, Pixlr or Paper 53 that convey meaning to an audience. Students need to use design elements and principles as they create their visuals. Another example is having students choose the most appropriate technology tool to show their understanding and demonstrate their knowledge. Sometimes that might be a Google Document, other times it might be using iMovie to create a video or Piktochart to demonstrate their statistics in a visual.
With the IB, there are 6 overarching elements of ICT in the Primary Years Programme: Creating, Collaborating, Organizing, Becoming Digital Citizens, Investigating and Communicating. Through these, students develop their skills to become digital learners using technology tools as one of many resources in their learning journey.
TPACK framework is a well-known framework in the education technology realm that connects technological, pedagogical and content knowledge.
In my role of an educational technology coach, I believe that I sit mostly on technological/ pedagogical knowledge. I believe this is where I fall because I understand how to teach and good teaching practice and have to regularly stay up to date in education technology. However, I do not always know all of the curriculum in depth across the primary school. My role is to help teachers connect the content knowledge or their pedagogical content knowledge to the technological knowledge.
I believe that expanding to tech with tech-PACK helps to emphasize the technology knowledge needed to integrate technology as mentioned by Roblyer & Doering (2014, p. 53). However, it is important to remember that as a teacher leaving out the digital technology is okay when it doesn't make sense to use it. Thus, an important role of a teacher is to make conscious decision of when to include technology and when to just stick to content and pedagogy knowledge.
To do this, I plan with teachers on a given unit they are working on and provide suggestions for technology integration. From there, I may upskill the teachers in small groups or co-teach the lesson with my focus of technology and pedagogical knowledge . This is what Koehler & Mishra (2009) would describe as “An understanding of how teaching and learning can change when particular technologies are used in particular ways. This includes knowing the pedagogical affordances and constraints of a range of technological tools as they relate to disciplinarily and developmentally appropriate pedagogical designs and strategies."
Whereas most homeroom teachers would be developing the technology from me, I develop my understanding of the content from them. From there, our knowledge is completed as TPACK. My role is really to help teachers to become confident in integrating technology and providing them the knowledge and support to add this third component of knowledge to their teaching. I believe that supporting teachers in having all three types of knowledge is important before implementing technology into the classroom as they plan a unit/lesson. Adding the technological knowledge where appropriate in their units/ lessons allows them to provide a 21st-century learning community for their students.
Koehler, M. J., & Mishra, P. (2009). What is technological pedagogical content knowledge? Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(1), 60-70.
Mishra, P., & Koehler, M.J. (2008, March). Thinking creatively: Teachers as designers of technology, pedagogy and content (tpack). Keynote address at the 2008 Annual Meeting of the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education (SITE), Las Vegas, NV, March 3-7.
Roblyer, M., & Doering, A. (2014). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching: International Edition, 6th Edition, Pearson.
1. Start with the end in mind. Know what you want your students to know. Use backwards by design.
2. Think about a strong hook to capture your students' interest. What provocation can you use?
3. Be prepared to change your plan on the fly - be flexible.
4. Choose assessment tools that make sense with your lessons.
5. Have opportunities to extend and support the lesson.
6. Prepare all your materials in advance.
7. Only integrate technology if it makes sense and enhances the learning.
8. Think about your questioning strategies.
9. Be aware of timing, including transitions.
10. Think about the set up of the classroom, groups, physical layout.
11. Don't plan too far ahead - let your students' inquiries guide you.
This past year was ... well... there's a lot of words I could use to fill the blank. It was a year of growth and exploration and I was lucky to have the class that I had who were always up for whatever challenge I wanted to tackle next.
As a relatively new teacher, I still have a lot to learn and I'm doing it the only way I know how - trial and error. The good thing about my class this past year is that with every risk I take, they jumped in and took risks too, pushing me beyond my comfort zone. About midway through the year, I found out I was transitioning into a new role which will take me out of the role as classroom teacher. It quickly began to dawn on me that if there were things that I wanted to try, I better do them while I had the chance.
It's been a little like standing at the edge of a cliff this year wondering if I'd finally slip off when things I tried didn't quite work, but luckily I seem to have good balance (or a class of students holding the rope to keep me from misstepping).
6 Units, 6 Things
1. Podcasting with Audio Effects
2. Home Learning Inquiry Projects
3. Games Based Learning
4. Online Courses
5. Choose Your Own Adventure
6. Photography and Film
Each unit brought new challenges for both me and the students but it kept the learning fun and exciting. Amongst each unit there were always smaller challenges embedded but the overarching theme of presented consistent interest, motivation and growth. We were always having a lot of conversations about the learning and reflecting on where we had been and where we needed to take our learning.
When you are out of the classroom, it is sometimes harder to have those ongoing, consistent experiences when you don't see the same students every day. The challenge then becomes finding the challenge that keeps you excited to try something new when you may not be part of the entire process of learning or see how the students are reacting, developing the idea and pushing it further.
Year 3 is a unique year group at our school. It is the time when students transition from the early years programme to the junior years programme in the PYP. But to our students, it also means the transition from using iMacs and iPads to laptops.
The introduction to MacBooks can be challenging at any age group but there is no lack of enthusiasm amongst this group of 7 and 8 year olds. Students in Year 3 share a laptop cart amongst the three classes, thus, it is simply a teaching tool like any other resource in the classroom.
After sitting down with the year group teaching team, it was clear we needed a plan in place to help our students transform this teaching tool into a functional part of the classroom.
We've created Year 3 EdTech Boot Camp for the entire year where students will develop technical skills to be applied in class and instruction on a regular basis. The lessons will be linked to the units of inquiry throughout the year wherever possible with the goal of moving towards a full one-to-one laptop programme in Year 4. It is exciting to have a regularly scheduled lesson with each of the year three classes every week and to be able to see their progress.
We started by reviewing the Acceptable Use Policy as a class and how we could demonstrate role model behaviour through our interactions with the laptops. This is something that is to be also reviewed by parents with the child before signing and returning. It was no surprise that the forms were back in quickly as they forms had to be returned before the laptops came out of the cart.
And then today happened...the students finally got their laptops. Beaming with excitement, they eagerly found their way over to the laptop cart and retrieved their numbered laptop hugging it with two hands and showing it love all the way back to their desks. As they patiently waited, there was chatter amongst the students until I finally gave the magic word to open the laptop and turn on the laptop.
It's been a few years since teaching the younger year groups and it was evident that quick thinking to have hands behind the back, or on the head as an instruction was key. The students first learnt how to '1/2 way down and turn them around' with their laptops (and yes, there is a new dance move that goes with that). The eagerness was oozing from the students. As a class, we established a secret word that would replace 'go' and instantly students were more patient about waiting for the instructions.
The first thing we did was find the spotlight search and then have a little fun finding PhotoBooth to take a picture or two. It was important to start off with something that not only the students would have success doing but also would be fun. By allowing them the chance, we were able to also talk about some necessary skills such as searching for apps and how to close apps when we were finished. We then wanted the students to be able to become familiar with some of the terminology such as launchpad, dashboard, and home screen. The students also had fun figuring out how to move between application screens on their MacBooks.
I also wanted to them to be able to have tools they could use immediately in their classrooms so I targeted two applications: the dictionary for language and the calculator for mathematics. It may seem simple but if students are able to locate and use these functions regularly, we will be able to easily build off these. First we looked up the word role model using the dictionary. We had a great question with one student unsure of what one of the words meant in the definition and we had a discussion and trial of how we could further expand our vocabulary by double clicking on the word and defining it as well.
Then we moved over to calculator. I asked my students to use the calculator to find the solution of 25x25 (a mathematical equation not easily solved by the average Year 3 student). Students began figuring out some of the symbols on the calculator and patiently waited to whisper the answer.
The session passed in a split second and it was time to head home. I asked the students in small groups to return the laptops to the cart. I was impressed to see they hadn't yet forgotten about hugging their laptop with two hands as they carefully placed their laptop on the shelf and charger plugged in. One thing I did realize doing this lesson was that it takes time to put the laptops away. Again, it seems silly to think about but it takes a long time to get the students to go from shutting down to closure and finally to their laptop cart.
I walked out with a smile and riding the high of their excitement. I may not have covered everything I had wanted to but what I did do was feel confident in the students' introduction to MacBooks and laptops.
I can't wait to see them next week to see how much information was retained as well as how we can continue our learning as we log into our emails for the first time.