Month: September 2019

Blog #3 SAMR and TPACK

Blogging in Week 3: Looking at SAMR and TPACK
EDCI 571
September 24th, 2019

These readings were helpful and allowed me to have some good reflections when it comes to evaluating two new models that can support the development and evaluation of using new technologies in my everyday teaching.

The readings lent themselves well to considering how teachers are using and incorporating technology into their instructional practice, this idea of looking at collaborative practices to further enhance and influence student engagement and motivation for learning.

I had not previously heard of the SAMR model before so it was interesting to read about this approach in looking at how technology can be used to go from simply enhancing learning to transforming learning. I definitely see as we shift to using the new curriculum in our province that the use of promoting technology in the classroom, further supports many of the core competencies and “big ideas”. Specifically looking at how the use of technology can be used to transform learning that leads to higher level thinking skills.

I am particularly interested in exploring how the use of technology can be used facilitate and improve literacy. Improving our literacy rates is always something our district strives to work towards and is something we have had embedded in our school improvement plans the last number of years. I think that technology can certainly support and improve the learning needs and perhaps lend itself to make the learning more interesting and meaningful. We do a lot of work around supporting our students to read for pleasure and interest, and I think about the potential use of technology and how this might aid students in their efforts to improve phonological awareness, increase fluency and accuracy and support with comprehension skills. I think after reading about both the SAMR and TPACK models, they will help to support me to further determine how I will choose to use technology better in my everyday teaching.

Both tools can be used to support and inform the use of technology in the classroom setting.

In looking at the SAMR model, the acronym can be broken down in the following way. The examples provided came from the online video: https://youtu.be/9b5yvgKQdqE

The example provided with the writing assignment made it clear to see how technology can be used to transform the learning process rather than simply enhancing the learning process.

Substitution: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change to the task. An example of this might include writing a story using a laptop to type the story rather than print the story.

Augmentation: Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement. The same example could be used, only students would use the same technology (laptops) to type their stories, while also being able to use additional features such as changing formatting, fonts and using spell check just as an example.

Modification: Tech allows for significant task redesign. The same story could be written using Google docs, where students can also use collaboration through feedback.

Redefinition: Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable. In this example students could create the stories and then bring them to life using video to create multimedia story boards, create animation and include voice over. In this example students are able to employ the use of technology to enhance their skills in creativity, collaboration, critical thinking and communication.

The SAMR model allows for educators to think about how the use of technology can be used to transform the learning design.  “Transformational learning activities that are truly personalized, situated, and connected through the use of a mobile device will go beyond merely using a mobile device as a substitute for more traditional tools. The SAMR model provides a framework that can be used to classify and evaluate mLearning activities. (Romrell et al. (2004).

They encourage educators to think about the following types of questions to inform their decisions around implementation of technology.

Q: What will I gain by replacing the older technology with newer technology?

Q: Have I added an improvement to the task process?

Q: Does this modification depend on the new technology?

Q: How is the new task made possible by the new technology?

If I have to make a criticism of this model, it is that classroom teachers may find this somewhat frustrating as they work to try to incorporate technology despite level of comfort, access to adequate training as well as access to adequate technology. Teachers are often skeptical and resistant to using technology in the classroom, and in my experience a lot of the resistance comes from a lack of training and exposure with technology. Teachers often do not feel they have the appropriate training or opportunity to utilize the available technologies. The technology changes so quickly, we often don’t feel that we get to use the technology enough before it is changing yet again.

 

TPACK: Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge

Koehler and Mishra (2009) outline the TPACK model allowing teachers to evaluate and analyze their everyday teaching practices through three particular areas or lenses: content knowledge, technology and pedagogy. This model allows for teachers to recognize the value of each skill-set, while looking at how each of the areas compliment one another. This model is student centered and promotes more informed planning from educators and speaks to the intentionality of each area (content knowledge, technology and pedagogy). This model will require ongoing analysis and adjustments as teaching practices change and technologies evolve. In addition, this model allows educators to identify and focus on their strengths and also evaluate their “stretches” or areas to further explore and work on. Educators are able to explore, much like our students explore their learning, reflecting on learning needs and styles when exploring how they will best employ the use of technology in their classroom. However, if I have to make one criticism of this model, it is that the TPACK appears to be teacher centered rather than student centered.

I have worked to evaluate my own intentionality of incorporating the use of technology in my everyday teaching practice. I feel that the SAMR model works well with evaluating how I can use technology to better my practice and think about how it will contribute to improving students learning.

 

 

Clark/ Kozma Debate

Blog # 2
September 17th, 2019
EDCI 571
Discussion around the Clark/ Kozma Debate

This was a challenging read, and what was even harder was reading the position Clark took on the media having little or no influence on education and learning. It didn’t speak to the fact that technology is evolving, or that education changes and develops over time. It felt narrow in scope if I am being both honest and critical. Clark suggests that it really doesn’t matter what you use to get the material across, which makes me question how anyone could feel inspired, motivated or challenged in their own teaching practice. If it really doesn’t matter how curriculum is delivered, it would suggest that both learning and teaching is somewhat static. If all we had were textbooks and basic word processors, and learning consisted of regurgitating information and rote memorization, Clark to me is suggesting the outcomes of the learning should be consistent over time. Clark does not account for students needing differentiated instruction and unique learning styles, he does not account for teachers autonomy to choose how they teach and deliver curriculum or whether they choose to use technology. Furthermore the author of this debate suggests that we should not use media in education primarily because it is too expensive. While I do appreciate that finances are always a concern in the public education sector, I have to wonder how long he thought teaching students with textbooks or worksheets would last? It costs a lot less than many of the technologies available today, however it works for a minority of student learning styles and would bore me to tears.

Kozma on the other hand did a great job providing us with examples of how technology is and can influence education and student learning. I had not previously explored the Thinker Tool Program, however this example provided, definitely had me thinking about other tech options used in education to make learning more engaging and meaningful. He suggests that we can use the capabilities of media and technology to our advantage to influence learning in a positive way. This I can completely agree with. The key is ensuring that the scaffolding or pre-teaching of why the technology is being used is important and not a missed learning opportunity.

In reflecting on my own teaching practice, I think there are lots of great things that we as teachers can use that make learning inviting and engaging that does not require media or technology. Having said this when talking to students, most have access to Ipads, computers and cell phones at home. I can use this technology that in many ways is already in place for most if not all children that I teach to augment what I am doing in the classroom. It is important to provide instructional strategies however, so that students understand the skill set they are learning, not to confuse this with just playing with technology. There are many examples that demonstrate how media influences my own students learning. For example, student video projects can be a powerful learning experience and can support varied learning styles.

Does media really have an influence on learning?

Media, in my opinion can provide a positive influence on active learning strategies. Examples of media used for meaningful education include film clips, songs you hear on the radio, a podcast of a lecture or an online newspaper article. Furthermore, opportunities to use social media in the classroom to increase engagement can be helpful, however I feel that I would approach these options with caution, consider for what purpose I am intending them to be used, and at what grade level they are appropriate. Specifically when I am speaking about social media I am referring to the use of networking sites such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter as well as students personal blogs.

Media does in my opinion have a great influence on meaningful learning and can be used to enhance teaching, support or compliment many traditional teaching practices. Some of the positive aspects of using media to improve or influence education in today’s classrooms include:

  • Bridging the gap between students’ knowledge and the learning objectives
  • Increasing student engagement
  • Supporting retention of skills taught
  • Motivating students through interest areas
  • Creates greater sense of meaning and relevance of concepts

I feel that the best learning happens when students are able to establish meaning. When the learning is made meaningful the learning is richer and more likely to resonate with students. With the increase and accessibility of technology, it seems obvious that such use would be hugely impactful on the learning experience and not likely to go away anytime soon.

Overall I found the debate a bit confusing and somewhat frustrating with the fact that it felt really outdated. It is difficult to choose sides in this debate, although I think I would tend to side more with Kozma. Learning is not one dimensional and there are so many ways of learning now that it seems that the use of media and technology would positively influence education today. I feel like the Clark/ Kozma debate is looking for its readers to arrive at a definitive answer or opinion, and how do we get there when what we know and love about both education and technology is constantly evolving, nothing is static.

Student Engagement & Technology

EDCI 571
Assignment 1A
September 10th, 2019

“Technology will not replace great teachers but technology in the hands of great teachers can be transformational.” -George Couros

Well it’s been quite the start to the school year already. Excited to embark on a new school year teaching grade 3 & 4, I prepared myself over the summer both my curriculum and also how I would take some of what we explored in our previous two courses and apply them to my own teaching practice. I found myself quite interested in exploring e-portfolios and the fresh grade system focusing on digital demonstrations of learning as a primary form of assessment.

I was informed late last week that due to the district shortage of LST’s, I will now be working as a Learning Service Teacher for my current school for this year, in addition to my administrative duties. Although I have worked in this capacity many times before, I am sad to say good bye to my class.

Having said this, I always try to focus on the positive. I have tried to shift my focus and thinking on how I can support the students on my case load using technology, furthermore re-imagining what role technology can play in my current practice working in Special Education.

“One of the most important aspects of technology in education is its ability to level the field of opportunity for students.”- John King

The use of technology in the classroom can be a powerful tool for transforming learning. Technology can help to affirm and advance relationships (both student and teacher), reinvent our approaches to learning and collaboration and minimize longstanding equity and accessibility gaps and adapt learning experiences to meet the needs of all learners.

In reflecting on the technologies available, looking at how technology can be incorporated into everyday teaching practices and how these technologies can enhance the overall learning experiences, makes me think about how I will incorporate these ideas in my own teaching practices. My comfort level is definitely a limitation as well as what we have available. Having said this as I mentioned in our previous course I feel that the school district I work in (School District 52- Prince Rupert) is relatively rich with accessible technology for its size.

In looking through the blogs and articles provided to us for this week reading I feel that the integration of such technologies mentioned in our reading lead us to think about how technology is able to:

  • Increase student engagement
  • Meet the needs of diverse learners
  • Increase accessibility, mobility and creativity
  • Create more equitable learning opportunities by having a variety of access points
  • Enable students to demonstrate their learning through diversified learning styles
  • Support students with communicative difficulties
  • Develop transferable skills

I feel like in one way or another all of the reading samples spoke to address one or more of the previously mentioned benefits of increasing the usage of educational technology in the classroom.

Using Technology in my classroom

I think I try to use technology as much as I can, despite being shy around it. I try to find ways to incorporate the use of technology into my everyday teaching practice and if nothing else and explore, play and introduce new technologies to my students, hopefully providing them with enough exposure to decide whether or not they will find these systems useful in their overall learning experience.

The use of technology has increased accessibility but also alleviated a lot of other concerns that previously existed, including the financial costs for parents. One example of this I have found, is the use of the scientific calculator. There are so many apps available now on cell phones that there is less of need for parents to purchase the traditional scientific calculators.

I can appreciate technology designed to bridge the difficulties with communication. Having had a few students in my class with communicative challenges,  programs  that can support as communicative devices such as Proloquo 2 go can be incredibly useful providing students with a voice.

I can see how as Steven Lahuillier’s blog on the Top 10 K-12 Educational Technology Trends speaks to the idea of using wearable technology would be helpful for students with exceptionalities, especially those who have communicative difficulties. Wearable devices such as watches, allows for increased student engagement and participation and supports student motivation by providing encouragement and praise. It also speaks to the idea of making demonstrations of learning more accessible to students who otherwise may be too shy to share their knowledge. I have used Ipads to allow students to create videos using their peers and other school props to demonstrate their understanding of certain concepts. This alleviates any concerns with students feeling shy about getting up and presenting, as they can simply play their video for their peers without worrying about standing up in front of their entire class.

What is trending now?

When I think about increasing student engagement, the notion of game-based learning comes to mind. Steven Lahullier speaks to this.  “From the days of playing PowerPoint Jeopardy for test reviews to app-based game creation applications, integrating games, technology, and education will continue to be a popular approach.”

Our school has explored the concept of teaching coding skills through fun app-based games and has participated in Hour of Code activities which teach students basic computational skills. Scratch is also something that has been hugely popular in our district, which teachers’ students how to piece together basic computer coding to create their own customized games.

I personally don’t use social media platforms in my class, however I can see how this technology can support teachers to provide instant feedback and improve relations with students as well as keep parents informed.

“In education, technology can be a life changer, a game changer, for kids who are both in school and out of school. Technology can bring textbooks to life. The internet can connect students to their peers in other parts of the world. It can bridge the quality gaps.”- Queen Raina of Jordan

In addition, something that resonated with me when looking at providing students with accessible technology to support their educational journey, was the concept of institutional limitations, or the fear of being stigmatized for disclosing a disability. While universities are often technology rich, and technological resources are put in place to best meet the needs of students with exceptionalities, many of these technologies are not made available and accessible to all learners, but rather those who disclose their learning disabilities. This creates unnecessary vulnerability, but also creates lower rates of awareness of educational technology available to make curriculum accessible for all.

As with UDL, so should educational technology. We might assume that certain technologies will make learning more accessible for a select few students, but we would be wrong to assume this. Technology used to support education today can make learning more engaging, accessible and equitable for everyone involved.

I am a bit skeptical about the concepts of AI, where machines are designed to evaluate students’ competencies through the use of learning machines, which design algorithms to create study guides to direct student learning.  While I can appreciate that these services are designed to be cost-effective and personalized, I question the level of personalization. In my opinion you cannot beat the interaction and personal connection you get from conferencing with a student and engaging in meaningful conversations that guide and direct your teaching path, as well as inform your understanding of how to best help your students with their unique and specific learning needs.

In addition, the other trend I don’t agree with is the concept of students having their own personal technology within their school. An example of this was a netbook program that our district used while I taught at the local middle school. The concept in theory was great, where each student is assigned a netbook, which travels with them from grade to grade and then eventually was meant to go with them as they transitioned to high school. This idea sounded really great, however the updating and general maintenance of these netbooks did not appear to be taken into consideration, and therefore this initiative was not successful. Students ended up with netbooks that were glitchy with inadequate technological support to keep the apps and programs up to date. By the time most students completed middle school, these netbooks were ready for the recycling bins.

Technology now…. Technology in the future…

Reading the Holland article was surprisingly like looking into a glass ball and predicting the future. The predictions were incredibly accurate with where technology is moving and at what pace. It is true with the speed of technology, it is moving so incredibly quickly we often don’t see the shortfalls before it is too late. I often find this with my own learning and usage of technology at school. Just as I am getting familiar and comfortable with using a particular platform or piece of technology, something new has come out and replaced it.

I especially liked the section on motivation. Using technology to provide insight and motivate instructional learning environments, increases engagement, promotes a sense of ownership to learning and makes learning more meaningful and relevant. As the research from Wlodkowsky states, “motivated learners include the desire to, learn, work, meet a need, personal value, reach a goal, complete task, engaging, curiosity, successful effort or ability, achievement, and personal responsibility.” (Jarman, B. pg. 19.)

Conclusion

When we incorporate technology into our everyday teaching practices it allows teachers to support students in meaningful ways which enhance their learning experience and allow them to meet their unique learning needs. Technology has opened the doors further to enable students to demonstrate their learning in a multitude of ways based on specific learning styles.  By increasing student exposure to technology as a way to supplement everyday learning, students gain new opportunities, which increase creativity and overall production, while introducing students to various technologies. This allows students to gain new skills which they can use throughout their school career and beyond.

Technology is not something that should take the place of paper and pen tasks or traditional teaching methods involving reading and writing, but rather supplement everyday teaching practices. Although we are often met with financial limitations or the fear or trying something unfamiliar, incorporating technology into our teaching practice is vital and something that we should not deprive our students of. My personal comfort level with technology is not where I would like it to be, however it is important to gain exposure to various technologies in hopes of enhancing the overall experience. I am finding that exploring the use of new technology in the classroom setting is something that we can do where we are all learning together.

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