Category Archives: Technology and change

Engage Your Online Learners- Intentional Practice

This video presentation offers ideas for creating engaging online learning experiences. If you create the right conditions and are intentional in your practice, you can create amazing digital experiences for students.

*This video was created for a course as part of the Certificate in Online Instruction at CSS.edu.

Quality use matters…

We need to go beyond looking at all technology integration efforts as equal. They just aren’t.

Example:

Teacher creates a Power Point to support a lecture vs. student creates a Power Point to document what he learned.

Question: Which example do you think has a greater potential of improving student learning?

Answer: The student created project. This assumes, of course, that the student is required to fully document learning with clear and high expectations above over just the visual aspects of the project.

A number of frameworks exist for looking at how technology integration can support learning. Overarching themes can be found in all of the frameworks. These themes essentially involve teachers becoming more student-centered in their efforts as they progress up each level. Additionally, teachers include higher level thinking activities and the technology use becomes more sophisticated and may even go beyond the classroom walls as the teacher progresses.

One very popular framework is the LoTI Framework developed by Dr. Christopher Moersh. This framework provides a way to examine technology use in the classroom. The framework moves from Level 0 (non use) to Level 6 (Refinement). This framework aligns nicely with Bloom’s Taxonomy and project-based learning. Essentially, the higher the level, the more student-centered the learning becomes. At level 6 the technology use moves beyond the classroom, reaching out to the outside world in some way. For example, a high school Spanish class may create a web-site for a third grade class also learning Spanish. You can also read about this framework in Dr. Moersch’s book, Beyond Hardware: Using Existing Technology to Promote Higher-Level Thinking .

Another framework comes from the ACOT research project which looked at how a group of teachers adopted technology over a ten year period. These stages are: Entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, and invention.

Here again, teachers become more sophisticated as they use a technology application. During the invention stage, a teacher may begin to use a technology application to support other learning objectives that had nothing to do with an original intention.

You can read more about this study in, Teaching With Technology: Creating Student-Centered Classrooms.

Another framework that examines how an organization adopts technology, is the diffusions of innovations theory. Dr. Rogers (2003) studied how a technology or new practice is adopted over time in an organization. The results of his work show that the adopters emerge in a bell-shaped curve. Rogers describes five groups in regards to adopting a new technology or new practice. These groups are:

1) innovators 2.5 % of the population

(2) early adopters 13.5 % of the population

(3) early majority 34%

(4) late majority 34%, and

(5) laggards 16%

Rogers also describes a series of stages that may occur during adoption:

1. awareness,
2. interest,
3. evaluation,
4. trial, and
5. adoption

There are a number of other frameworks that exist. These frameworks help to describe what can happen to a teacher as they begin to learn about how to best use a specific technology application. As the teacher becomes more proficient with the technology, she can begin to more clearly see how to best use the technology to promote student learning. However, teachers need to be encouraged to think deeply about what their students are doing when using technology. They need to ask themselves about the thinking that students are doing as they use technology and encourage higher level thinking activities. An understanding of these frameworks may help school leaders understand that teachers may be in different places and that teachers may need additional time and support to move beyond beginning stages. Teachers would also benefit from knowing that they may move through stages. Knowledge is power.

The blackboard and the Wright brothers.. “Learning to fly”?

Adopting new technologies in teaching situations can be a bit contentious. Take the black board, for example…

Did you know that when the blackboard was first introduced at WestPoint in 1801 it caused quite a stir? Mr. George Baron, a math instructor at West Point Military Academy used it to teach math lessons. Teachers all over the United States debated the usefulness of the blackboard. Many thought that using the blackboard in teaching should not be done! While individual slates were commonplace, blackboards on the walls were not. Books were written on how to effectively use the blackboard as a teaching tool and teachers attended training sessions on how to use it effectively. Expert “blackboard users” ran workshops for how to use this new technology.

Does this sound familiar? This story of the blackboard is a good example of how people often adopt a new technology. Adopting new technologies is often a bit messy, lengthy, and there can be anxiety and a lot of discussion and debate over the usefulness of the technology. Instructors need to learn how to use the technology and may also adapt the technology as they become more highly skilled and knowledgeable.

Here is a quote from Dr. Tom Carroll (2000), a national leader in educational technology that gives an interesting analogy on technology and teaching.

When the Wright brothers were going to make the first flight, there was no flight school to prepare them. There was nobody to teach them to fly. They just launched their plane and figured out how to fly it after they were on it. We are in the early stages of flight with technology in education. Pilots in the early stages of flight crashed a lot of planes, but they also discovered the principles of flight.

They came together in learning communities where they could share their experiences and knowledge about what works and what does not work. They developed and evolved principles that make modern flight possible today, including the space program. That kind of learning opportunity is available to using our schools today.

I think this quote is a good reminder for educators that we are still breaking ground in educational technology. Most of us have had very little in the way of modeling in how to effectively use technology in our teaching. We are still “learning to fly”……