Rethinking the Continuum: Teaching, Learning and Technology (Keywords: 4Cs framework LOTI)

A short time ago, after a conversation with a colleague, I imagined the following continuum:

Not being satisfied with that, I worked on it a little, and it ended up looking like this:

GoogleDraw version

For fun, I dropped the SAMR model into the equation, even though it has become quite controversial. In truth, I wonder if such “complex” models can really do more than describe ideas and mayhem endemic to school districts. As a technology director, I see my role as facilitating the technical side of things, allowing curriculum to blend technology into their work. And, this approach would probably work except for the deleterious effects of high stakes testings and interventions mandated from on-high.

It may be that the role of Instructional Technology Specialist is an anachronism from a bygone era, but unfortunately, until curriculum folks aren’t running around trying to meet TEA requirements that result in fascinating contortions, we may not see much progress without the hardy Instructional Tech Specialist.

“Research consistently shows that technology adoption requires the presence of pioneers to field-test technologies, contextualize their use for specific purposes, and then help their peers implement them.” Source:ISTE, 2013, p.6 as cited in Dr. Kristi Shaw and Kaye Henrickson’s presentation

This results in curriculum experts who may not know how to hook up their mobile device to a digital projector, create a wiki, or create a form to capture data or analyze it in a spreadsheet, perpetuating paper-n-pencil approaches that have been replaced in other areas.  I can think of at least one instance where this has had disastrous impact on school district public relations (e.g. a curriculum specialist published confidential data online).

That this dichotomy exists, well, that’s pretty astonishing given the amount of technology available, right?

In Naturalizing Digital Immigrants, order it here, a different approach is suggested. Their “collegial coaching Model for Technology Integration” includes these points, which they elaborate on in their book:
  1. Establish the Need: Explore fears, hesitations, insecurities, and overarching goals, helping focus them on 3 tools.
  2. Create partnerships: This suggests adapting past projects and blending technology into those, focusing on content.
  3. Differentiate technology projects, supporting teachers in short-term, easy to attain projects, building confidence over time, moving on a continuum from personal to professional.
  4. Assess Progress: This involves aligning technology-enhanced activities to what was originally intended to be taught, constantly refining how you teach to match what students need to learn.
  5. Ask reflective questions. One nifty quote they share includes one from John Dewey, such as reflection allows one to convert “action that is merely appetitive, blind and impulsive into intelligent action” (Dewey, 1933). I can think of no better description for the avid app consumption that occurs when teachers are given iPads (“Go get this free app now! You can tutor kids with it!” rinse, repeat).
Read my blog entry about this framework

While it is tempting to continue as we are, with curriculum in one silo and instructional technology in the other, it is critical to realize we can’t continue as we have been. But we may very well have to so long as our colleagues in Curriculum & Instruction are taking their marching orders from those bent on destroying public schools. In fact, instructional technologists may be all that stands between helping learners be “CREATIVE, COLLABORATIVE, and INNOVATIVE, not compliant, complacent, and disengaged” (Source: Todd Wold)

When I envision changing what is happening in the classroom, I confess that some of the transformations I’d like to see include the following:

  1. Problem-based Learning, or at worst, Project-based Learning: For me, choosing one of these approaches involves rethinking how you approach teaching and learning in the classroom. As a result, far better than any other instructional approach I’ve seen, PBL engages students not with technology but powerful ideas and learning possibilities that technology usage can only accelerate. Read More about PBL | Visit Professional Learning Site
  2. Collaboration: The hallmark of today’s technology-embedded classrooms must be increased communication opportunities, as well as collaboration. In my article on 3 Steps to Leverage Technology for Dual Language, any reader can perceive that these uses transcend technology and enable powerful, interactive activities that can be done at a distance. You’re no longer collecting digital stories for classroom consumption, but creating a multimedia anthology of digital stories to be read, viewed, listened to across the wide global spectrum.
  3. Lifelong Electronic Portfolios: As consumers, most of our lives are captured through what we buy and sell. As learners, most of our work disappears at the closing of a grading period, if not sooner. Creating lifelong ePortfolios will enable students, parents, and teachers greater insight into what we learn, how we learn and what impact that has on us as human beings.
    Find out more: ePortfolios | Picture Portfolios | Holly Clark’s Post on Digital Portfolios
  4. Empower the Previously Impossible or Hopelessly Difficult: Technology should allow us to learn in ways previously impossible. If it doesn’t, then we have to overcome the “So what?” factor. For me, this means that Substitution/Augmentation activities benefits are so terrific that it’s a “Wow!” moment that leads to Modification, or that the fundamental learning activity has been redefined. Consider technologies like an iPad and Moticonnect, which fellow blogger Richard Byrne highlights through a guest post by Maggie Keeler and EdTechTeacher…I don’t know about you, but MotiConnect is pretty incredible augmentation of what may have been done in the past. Communication and Collaboration fall into this, too. Gathering and analyzing data via GoogleSheets with students groups across the Nation is pretty incredible.
  5. Amplify Student Voices: Powerful learning can come when we hear our own voice in the world. Students are, to be obvious, human beings, too. Affirming their ability to impact social justice issues in their community–which goes well with PBL–as well as connect via social media to highlight their burgeoning efforts can help them develop their Voice. “Voice” because crafting a digital presence means recognizing that when we possess and use digital devices, we are on a world stage which can transform our lives in an instant for good or ill.

If we commit to these 5 transformations in our classrooms–is your campus ready?–we will have achieved the often-unrealized promise of technology in our children’s lives. . .and, they will have learned much of what we hoped they would.

Some related materials to this conversation:

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Read it on your mobile device or via the Web

Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

One thought on “Rethinking the Continuum: Teaching, Learning and Technology (Keywords: 4Cs framework LOTI)

  1. Dan McGuire November 27, 2015 at 7:42 pm Reply

    Good thinking, Miguel

    A way to achieving all of the the transformations that you'd like to see:
    Problem-based or Project-based Learning; Collaboration; Lifelong Electronic Portfolios; Empower the Previously Impossible or Hopelessly Difficult; and Amplifing Student Voices is to start by implementing OER digital textbook/courses. Find a course in just one grade level in your district or school that is taught by teachers who are reasonably comfortable with the idea of 1:1 for at least this one course, then create or find a digital textbook that can be implemented with an LMS. Moodle would be my choice, but GAFE would work to get started. An OER digital course provides immediate financial payback in the savings of textbooks and then also provides an easy gateway to all five of the items on your list plus a few more. Here's a recent post of mine that talks about what we're doing

    A digital OER course creates a tangible focus and is relatively easier for the C & I folks you mentioned to understand. They will no doubt be tempted to resist because digital OER courses quickly make many if not most of the former paper processes in education obsolete and thus drastically changes or eliminates their jobs. But, the immediate benefits are hard to argue.

    Thanks for keeping the new ideas flowing.

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