Tech Incorporated: 5 Transformations for Classrooms

As many of us know, technology has always involved a close relationship between educators and vendor partners. That relationship has evolved over time, from simple software apps and programs to complex learning management systems "connected" to our school's student information systems. This blog entry explores 5 Transformations for Classrooms. I'm grateful to Misti Smith for the inspiration.

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As Misti Smith points out in her blog entry, blending technology into classroom instruction today often involves:
Them: I want to try and incorporate more technology into my classroom
Me: What ideas do you have?
Them: Well I saw someone use a tool called [insert any “new” web 2.0 tool here] and I think I want them to have to use that for an assignment.
Me: What is the assignment?
Them: [Insert any regular boring activity] 
This is not in any way shape or form an example of incorporating technology into the classroom, but in my old position, faculty were the end all be all of what happens in the classroom and I was just there to teach them how to use whatever tool it is that they wanted to use.
How do we get past this superficial use? Misti goes onto make some specific recommendations worth reflecting on:

  1. Note-Taking: Use Evernote on iPad and other devices.
  2. Group Work: Take advantage of flipped classroom to maximize classroom collaboration and sharing using iPads, AppleTV and HDMI-enabled television.
  3. Learning Management System: Use a commercial LMS to facilitate assignment sharing and collection as well as virtual discussions.
  4. Engagement: Use technology to engage students through polling, class hashtag in social media (e.g. Twitter)

Misti has a great start on a few simple, straightforward approaches to using technology in the classrooms she is collaborating with. Do you think her efforts will yield the kinds of changes to pedagogy that she is seeking? How do we move from adapting existing learning activities to replacing learning activities?

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, 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.

What transformations would you include in this list to achieve the future you would want for your own child(ren)?

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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


JeanTower said…
MIGUEL - I love your list of transformative ways to apple tech to learning. I would add that I think we do better when we have a laser-like focus on students, engagement, and learning, and when the whole school or district gets behind a small subset of tools and outcomes (like the 4 Cs). But I think we can't forget it takes TIME and PROFESSIONAL LEARNING for teachers to do this all well.

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