I often get questions about the importance of teaching technology skills, such as using a mouse, clicking, double-clicking, drag and drop, keyboarding, etc. I have always had the philosophy that students learn these thing by using technology on a regular basis. I decided to put this theory to the test with my own child, a kindergartener. I admit, he is probably more tech-savvy than the average five-year-old. However, his tool of choice is the iPad. He has a laptop (a MacBook that I passed down to him when I upgraded to the MacBook Pro), but rarely uses it, unless his teacher sends home a recommended website or online activity.
This evening, I decided to have him practice reading using some online websites. He grew weary of that and asked me to find him something “different”. I immediately though of the program that is used in our district to teach the technology application TEKS. I assigned him the Kindergarten curriculum and observed him closely as he completed the first lesson (click, double-click, drag and drop). He was bored. He already knew those fundamentals, just from exposure to computers. He also knew several of the next lessons.
If we expose students to technology on a regular basis by integrating into instruction, do we need a stand-alone technology applications curriculum? Should we differentiate this instruction like core content areas? What technology skills to student have when they walk into the classroom? How can we assess?
No, I am not cheering on the Dallas Cowboys this week, I have been defending the concept of student-centered “instructional technology” all week in my doctoral class (via online discussion board). Although, I love talking instructional tech, there a few (well, more than a few) things that simply amaze me in 2011 (almost 2012):
- Why are we still having conversations about smartboards and document cameras being the answer to integrating technology in the classroom? (I am not saving they don’t have some value, however research shows these are typically overpriced, teacher-centered presentation tools that do not help student to create, collaborate and innovate.)
- Why is it so difficult to understand the concept of student-centered instruction? (Let’s focus on tools for STUDENTS.)
- Why have these people not heard of NETS-S and LoTi? (C’mon, NETS-S are national standards!)
- Here are a few of the responses from this week…
- There is somewhat of a “stigma” that technologies do not contribute to building academic skills and the students are just having fun and not really learning.
- In my district teachers utilize Smartboards and document cameras. What does a true technology integration look like?
- I would question this as the interactive piece should also be used for the students to interact with the board as well. In addition the slate and SMART Response (used to be Senteos) are another way that brings the students into the mix–specifically for formative assessment. Hence, maybe the goal of the learning team from the PLC could focus on using this technology to make it a student centric learning environment.
- The students interact with the whiteboard and are aware of its functions. Does this count?
- Technology must be used for a practical purpose—that is, taking the fundamentals and technology learned over a semester and applying it to a final project, where creativity and uniqueness is required and rewarded.
(1) Fortunately, the teachers in my school district do not share that stigma. That sounds like an issue of how technology is currently being used is your district. What has been the focus of your staff development? Is it focused on technology tools or is the focus on integrating technology in curriculum and instruction? Have teachers been given specific examples of how laptops can be integrated in their content area instruction? Have exemplar lessons been created to guide teachers through the process of developing technology rich lessons?
There is tremendous potential of technology beyond building skills. We focus more on how technology integration can contribute to the rigor and relevance in curriculum and instruction. We look at four factors: higher order thinking skills, engaged instruction, authentic learning, and technology used. Again, the focus is on instruction and how technology can be integrated to enhance instruction.
I believe the larger issue is changing instructional processes in the classroom. You can pour millions of dollars into technology, but if the instruction doesn’t change, it is a waste of funds.Technology should be viewed as a tool for learning and enhancing classroom instruction. I find that most teachers do not know how to make this transition at the classroom level. I also believe there tends to be a focus on the tools (Smartboards, document cameras, etc.) and not a focus on how true technology integration this will transform the teaching and learning process. We are differentiate between teacher tools and student tools. We focus more on tools that will allow students to create, collaborate and innovate. It should an expectation that students and teachers are using digital tools to learn, collaborate, create and innovate in the classroom setting. Teachers should be motivated by their students needs. I often share and discuss resources like Did You Know (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dMsNct4X_GU) to help motivate them change for the sake of the students we serve.
(2) Smartboards and document cameras are typically teacher-centered technology.The teacher is using the tool to present information to students. Students are the still the consumers of content. Instead of the overhead projector, they have a new tool, a document camera to present information. Students are not creating, innovating, and collaborating with technology. The National Educational Technology Standards for Students (http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students/nets-student-standards-2007.aspx) may help give you an idea of what I mean by true technology integration. In essence, technology is integrated into the instructional process so that students (key word is students)are collaborating, problem-solving, communicating, and creating. I am also attaching the Levels of Teaching Innovation Framework developed by Dr. Chris Moersch (2011). This will help explain the concept of teacher centered versus student student technology use.
Smartboards and document cameras may have some value as presentation tools. Moersch (2011) would describe this as a LoTi Level 1- teacher use. Since your district is using these devices, how do these devices improve learning for students? How are these devices helping our student with the national standards so they are prepared for the future?
(3) I appreciate your response. My goal is not to focus on a particular tool or set of tools. Schools should not have to purchase Smartboards and student response systems to have student-centered learning environment. Its is about process change. For example, our classrooms should be using web 2.0 tools to communicate and collaborate globally, publishing their writing to an authentic audience using blogs and wikis, bringing in outside experts to the classroom using tools such as Skype, using social networking tools like Twitter to collect and analyze data in real time, creating digital stories to demonstrate mastery of content.
(4) Looking at the NETS-S standards I referred to in an earlier post, how does a Smartboard, slate, and student response system help student meet national educational technology standards? How would you define effective technology integration?
(5) If you look at the national standards, it moves beyond using technology for practical purposes. It is about students using technology to collaborate, create, and innovate. Technology should not be just a product (final project). It should be integrated into the learning process as well.
Moersch, C. (2011). Levels of teaching innovation. Retrieved fromhttp://loticonnection.cachefly.net/global_documents/LoTi_Framework_Sniff_Test.pdf
ISTE (2009). National educational technology standards for students. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/nets-for-students/nets-student-standards-2007.aspx
Do you see what I was dealing with this week? We have work to do! If I don’t educate them, who will? Right?
Under Freeman Hrabowski’s leadership, the University of Maryland Baltimore County has become a powerhouse in math, science, and engineering. Byron Pitts reports.
I attended the 2011 Education Leadership Conference at The University of North Texas. There were a few concepts that really inspired me to continue to be a change agent and advocate for all children.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Alan November:
- Belief in our children and a large heart is required of every educator.
- We need to focus on process change. Technology without process change does not improve teaching and learning.
- Process change requires change in the flow of information, getting people to access information they have never had before, changing the relationships of how people work together, and empowering people to do more than they have before.