Monday, 21 April 2014

Teacher Learner Profiles

In considering how to implement technology, a short exercise in self reflection will help me see what steps I need to undertake in order to meet my varied students' learning needs.

I see myself as a blend between what Lewis (2010) termed "old schooler" and "innovator".  Like the old schooler, I adopt adopted technology into my daily classroom life, but use it similar to more more traditional classroom tools.  Technology coexists within my established lesson plan.  It supports, and extend learning but does not influence the process.  But, I am also slowly embracing the innovative uses of technology to transform the learning process.  In this way, technology use promotes learner autonomy and supports critical and creative thinking and problem solving skills.  I want to infuse my lessons with real-life content, authentic communication and opportunities to create products with a professional look and feel and share them to a wide audience.

The learning environment where I teach is directly liked to the internet (by broadband) and therefore well equipped to handle large chunks of data.  Students have access to the internet so students can share information between computers.  Student work is saved on a central server.  Computers are not locked so new software and social applications.   However, training and technical support is limited.  There is  no one for me to turn to for help when advice is needed but rely on online help functions. 

Students digital literacies varies across the board, but all students would benefit from a reminder of the importance of questioning sources being accessed. I would like to encourage reflection of what source is being used. Preselecting websites and provide students with the evaluative tool to critique websites.  Identify the author/organization – verify the credentials.

To help my students facilitate their learning aspirations, they need to be competent in manipulating the various constituent multimedia elements that make up a new digital text and these needs are incorporated into the teaching and learning activities.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

Integrating Application using SAMR

I found this chart rather useful in considering examples of how to integrate technology into practice using SAMR.  Following simple tasks can be enhanced and transformed and lead to activities being redefined.

Monday, 24 March 2014

Technology and Opportunity

More than Space Invaders
Technology can not only access information at incredible speeds, helps organise and present it in useful meaningful methods to facilitate wishes and desires.  Technology can re-orientate our teaching towards the practice of making better lives... to enable wishes and hopes.  It can provide creative means to spur on curious learners to forge ahead in fields that are of interest while sparking intrinsic motivation and the promote the desire to learn.

Technology provides the opportunity to reflect on decisions and this higher order skill can help frame learners' ideas into contexts beyond the classroom's four walls.   Learning practice can extent and with positive results at the community level. The more we question, we discover and learn about possibilities.   Existing gaps between what is the current reality and what is an ideal reality can be solved by understanding where to access information to help in creating creative solutions. 

This ties in nicely with the concept of additionality where something is not happen unless you are actually doing it.  Learners become involved in larger projects. The ability of technology to link with the real world reveals to classroom participants the skills, both of the practical and cognitive variety, that can be pursued to develop dreams.

Using information can help define who we are and help clarify where to invest often limited resources.   Hopefully, classrooms become places to learn the tools to be able to create innovative problem solving techniques and implement new ideas to provide hope where hope previously it might not have existed.  

Two TED Talks inspired this little blurb.  Logan the hack-schooler/skiier: 

Google's Larry Page.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Towards Technology Integration

Contextual factors are going to play a large role in adopting an implementation strategy to meet the needs of the stakeholders involved at RMUTK.   The current pedagogy has many of the characteristics that are associated with a Behavioural Learning Model.

As the teacher enters the room, students scramble to hide their mobile devices and a hush falls over the audience who are sitting in rows according to their student numbers.   A student stand up and and says, "Good Morning Teacher" and the rest of the class who has managed to be on time grumbles an echo greeting.  Their educational experience to date has led them to expect their teacher to reveal the secrets of the subject, to reveal new wisdoms that will be accommodated or assimilated into their existing mental frameworks of understanding through some practice and eventually a formal demonstration of their knowledge with formal assessments.

Yet, this is 2014.  Seen through my Canadian lenses shaped by my experiences teaching and learning, this pedagogical model seems antiquated and in need of a desperate recognition of some of the exciting current thoughts about how best to use technological tools to enable future needs.   A wonderful aspect of my teaching environment is that I am granted a great deal of freedom to match vague curriculum guidelines as outlined in course descriptions.   The only stipulation is that students must write a midterm and a final exam.

My goal is to weave some technology into the current fabric and plug students into the some of the enabling capacities of technology.  The opportunity exists to implement technology to enhance and transform learning.  By engaging learnings with student relevant material motivation has been shown to increase and so too does the opportunity to promote self regulatory learning.  Exploring with the students the belief that they are now just beginning their lifelong pursuit is a thought I want both my students and department to give thought to.

Being sensitive to the institutional powers traditions and pedestal teachers have historically found themselves,  implementing new technologies in the class and evolving my teaching role to one as a facilitator needs to be done delicately. Strategic steps might also be appreciated by the learners who are perhaps from a digital generation but not used to using technologies in educational pursuits. Adopting a directed approach, with a theoretical foundation based in a constructivist approach, could fall in line to help develop specific skills that students do not yet have.  Taking advantage of technologies to help fix, improve and remedy skill deficiencies in the promotion of skill fluency.

How best to redesign tasks to transform student learning, to create online commenting service to enable collaboration, to share feedback, to promote the internet in student discovery learning and in promoting knowledge acquisition remains to be worked out.   However, I do know that I do want to increase students' digital literacy, help prepare them to some of the dynamic digital demands of being active members within our Global Information Society.

Friday, 14 March 2014

More than a tool

Technology is more than just a tool.   It directly influences anticipated learning outcomes and how learners engage in learning.   Before selecting a teaching strategy, teachers need to consider how technology impacts existing pedagogical approaches to construct informed integration decisions.  This understanding supports facilitating insights into how to meet student aims and needs in creating knowledge for specific learning contests.
     The whiteboard, CD player, and overhead projector are the only technology tools that I currently employ in the classroom.  Sitting here writing that, I feel regret that my students have not been able to tap into the available new, exciting, interactive technological learning resources.   Instinctively, I would love my students to be able to reap the benefits from a constructionist implementation strategy.  Such an approach seems to be in line with rudimentary tertiary pedagogical goals: creative problem solving and metacognition, building mental models and increasing knowledge transfer, fostering group cooperation skills and allowing multiple distributed intelligences.  Connectivism and its core emphasis of focusing on links between fields, might its ideas and concepts be a theory that could help my learners somewhere in the future?   Due to my preferred teaching style and learning background, its attention to knowing where to access information has an intuitive attraction.  It is a theory that requires further investigation in order to comprehend how it could be of value in my students’ learning.

     At RMUTK, learning objectives are rooted in objectivist learning principles.  The depth of technology as a tool ends with it being solely viewed as a research resource for students to access and utilize in their individual study.  The essential conditions for integration which Roblyer and Doering (2013) highlighted do not exist and engrained barriers exist.  The potential of technology in motivating students, to optimize scarce resources, to remove logistical hurdles to learning, to develop information and visual literacy skills have been ignored.  

     My students’ learning needs and the Department’s course description objectives has me believing that a constructivist approach is beyond their current scope.  In light of my students’ rather poor skill set, in order to promote skill fluency and automaticity, a directed integration approach is more likely to support a self-paced learning model which is more in line with their real needs.

     Before drawing a matrix of the learning theories and technology integration theories, I do need a little more time to allow them to penetrate my brain.   Of interest might be the site which a friend recommended for it is relatively ease to manipulate and looks to hold potential in such a connective task (and/or some other task in the future?).  This bubble map links ideas to the main learning theories to give you an idea of the kind of output the tool can create.


Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Bringing Technology into the Classroom

Bringing Technology into the Classroom

Reflecting on Branham's (2012) opinion encourage the integration of technology into their learning process.

READING: Branham, M. (2012).  Bringing Technology into the Classroom is a Process, Not and Event.  Capitol Ideas, 55(5), 28-29.  Retrieved from:

Throwing technology into the classroom without careful thought wastes limited resources.  Integrating technology to align with student learning needs must be strategically planned to help develop students’ life long learning skills.   Within the context of my current teaching environment at RMUTK,  there is no tradition of students actively using technology; mobile devices are often banned in the classroom.  The pedagogical benefits of implementing technology into classrooms to stimulate learner curiosity, raise motivation, promote lifelong learning and learning autonomy has not yet been acknowledged.  

The article points to technology usage helping teachers become more efficient.  A prerequisite to this is to supply teachers with the necessary training assistance, or their will not be a reduction time teachers spend grading tasks or developing lesson plans.  At RMUTK, it is possible that technology awareness could help transform the current educational model.   Last week, I conducted a simple survey asking my learners if they would like more input in their course content.  Response from my learners indicated they would love to adopt personalized learning strategies that tailors to their strengths and weaknesses.  To address this, teachers can access programs and gain information regarding areas of need and point them to appropriate sources to further the students' personal development.  

Regrettably, RMUTK (like most educational institutions) is financially strapped.   Computers are collecting dust in computer labs and adopting a wasteful technology implementation strategy would be detrimental.  Purchasing more hardware is not going to help the learners or the institution in the long-run.   The current internet grid can not be relied upon and needs to be upgraded.  But can RMUTK afford the cost?  Or for the sake of its students not afford the cost? 

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Arguing for a Digital Pedagogy

Reflection on a Digital Pedagogy

The following summary outlines Howell’s (2012) argument on why teachers need a digital pedagogy.  

  • Given the role of technology in today’s society, by establishing a digital pedagogy, teachers recognize its importance and relevance within their learners’ daily lives.  
  • Teachers must develop a personal digital pedagogy based on their attitudes towards and aptitudes with technology.   
  • This foundation provides support for carefully incorporating appropriate technological tools that match specific learning contexts and student needs.  
  • These needs include “big picture” objectives that justify teachers adopting digital pedagogies and integrating technology into their teaching and learning contexts.

Reading: Howell, J. (2012). What is a digital pedagogy and why do we need one? Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration and creativity (pp. 3-17). South Melbourne, Victoria: Oxford University Press. Retrieved from:,%20Jennifer%20(2012).%20Teaching%20with%20ICT%20-%20Chapter%201.pdf

The continued growth of transformative technologies within our daily lives should be reflective in our evolving teaching pedagogy.   A digital pedagogy is developed through an open attitude towards technology and willingness to explore new possibilities that may be embedded within our classrooms as they emerge.

A digital aptitude (inclination/tendency) is grounded in theoretical understanding.  Understand the learning theories attached to digital pedagogy, the learning opportunities it affords and the learning outcomes that are expected will influence what teaching strategies and implementing technology choices.

Technology choice needs to be justified: what type of learning results from their use?  What types of learning styles do technologies favour or enhance?  Apart from new content knowledge, are other skills acquired working with technology?

Five “Big Picture” Reasons for a Digital Pedagogy:

  1. Our Global Information Society:  a knowledge-based society based on the investment in intellect and creativity.  Teachers have the duty to prepare students to be successful, contributing members.
  2. A Need for Digital Preparedness:  digital competence, confidence and critical use of ICT for employment.
  3. Not everyone is a digital native:  although the use of digital technologies is widespread, it has been most commonly a recreational not scholastic pursuit.
  4. Engage and motivate students: strategy that capitalizes on the inclinations (predisposition) of the user enjoyment for using technology. Learners find activities that involve technology more engaging and motivating.  The range of technologies available ensures their applicability across students’ phases of learning.
  5. Life-long learning.  Exposure to technologies is a prerequisite to carry over to post-schooling life.  Incorporating digital technologies develops digital literacy to help them critically evaluate the technological choices.
Although I have not been in a teaching context that has promoted the use of technology, the more I think about it, the more I see value in doing so if my teaching context can support its implementation.  More on that in my next post..... I need a cookie.