Frameworks for Learning

Watson Labs – Brain Synapse

This week’s readings made new connections creating synapses (linkages) in my head. When I started the COETAIL program I wanted to merge a ‘technology’ teacher and a ‘teacher’ but was not sure how hard it would be or how to go about it. After this week, there is more clarity. Let me explain why…

This week many ideas that were floating in my head were able to get connected. 

Enlightening

I know that there are different levels of technology use, I know but to identify and observe its use in a classroom environment was very effective. To see examples of what the highest level of technology integration ‘Redefinition’ looks like in a classroom was enlightening. There is student choice of software to use, group collaboration and maybe redefinition of tasks by students is truly student empowering. 

Photo by Nghia Le on Unsplash

In between, there are the roles of ‘Modification’ through technology use or ‘Augmentation’ of a task through technology to discover new avenues but they are all teacher centered. The students of today and the future are less and less able to study in a teacher centered environment as technology has made them as or more (most cases) than the adults that they live with. They are able to quickly find answers, network with peers (Social Media) and find solutions without any adult supervision.

Similarly, using technology as ‘Substitution’ which may be typing up a paper rather than writing it by hand seems obsolete. It is a ‘dumbing’ down of technology for the very intelligent students that we teach today. 

And of course, the only way to get maximum student enthusiasm and involvement is through a ‘redefinition’ of a task so it becomes relevant and of interest to the students

TPACK 

(Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) 
https://images.app.goo.gl/TJULANYH1zoVi5ip7

I really like how the basic explanation of TPACK which divides a teacher’s role as someone who has content knowledge and pedagogical knowledge. He/she also recognizes that the kind of technology used has to be chosen carefully as it can either assist or hinder preset learning objectives. Lastly, it is so important that as teachers, we learn to use existing knowledge to let students  develop new content. This diagram and readings show us how. 

Technology Integration Matrix

Florida Center for Instructional Technology https://images.app.goo.gl/VhHjKWHhXcZnJZRd8

It totally makes sense that there are stages of technology integration across schools with entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion and transformation levels. Transformation being the highest level where there is higher order thinking, student direction and collaboration outside the classroom walls that is not possible without technology. 

The level of technology used in the classroom may depend on the teacher’s comfort level, school priorities or availability of tech or a learning coach to facilitate using technology. 

All teachers want to engage students in an authentic learning experience, I know how that goes… Two years ago when I was looking to make my classes more engaging and make economics (as part of Humanities) accessible to students in 7th grade, my Learning Coach, Eric Brown showed me how to use simulation as a powerful tool. It  was not tech heavy but it made an ‘authentic’ learning environment. I used a Scarce Chairs activity to hone in on how scarcity affects demand, supply, and prices in the end. At the end of the activity students were figuring out different scenarios for using the chairs ranging from paying money, sitting on the floor or sharing a chair with a friend for the rest of the week!

In retrospect to extend the activity further, I could have asked students to figure out how much they would spend in a month if they paid for a chair, what they would have to forego or how could they  offset this cost by finding ways to earn money. Or, if they wanted to use the floor, how much would they save, what difficulties would they have in class and what they could do to deal with them for the rest of the month. They could use any technology to showcase their research and findings and share with the class. This would have made it an ‘authentic’ learning experience where they would have to stretch their learning to a real life experience. 

In conclusion, the biggest takeaway were the 5 interdependent learning environments eg. active, collaborative, constructive, authentic and goal oriented. Interlinking them with the level of use of technology made everything click. Therefore, one can have an active learning environment either at the entry level (the student just receives knowledge) or transformational level where tools are being put to new use. (Matrix above)

I like the goal oriented approach the best for the greatest lessons imparted, if we can plan lessons (interdisciplinary ones) by using it. For example, when we were leasing a car and buying a home on our move back to the US, my son who is a first year undergraduate student asked me why high school does not teach how a car is leased, or whether to buy one or lease one, or what does one consider when buying a home home. 

I THOUGHT TO MYSELF WHAT GREAT QUESTIONS! I had no answers….. 

So what if in high school or middle school there were interdisciplinary goal directed learning environments with transformation use of technology with students working in collaborative groups in which students identify where they would like to live in the future, how much they would need to earn per month to cover living expenses, whether they need or can afford a car or a home. This would involve areas  of research and consideration that are different for every student i.e. crime rates, home prices, parking costs, leasing costs, professional salaries etc.

If the parameters of the project are set then the students themselves can set goals, plan activities, monitor progress, and evaluate results. In the end, they would have to present their results. 

Technology is Inevitable Like Climate Change!

Kim Cofino is correct when she states in her blog that there is no dichotomy between a ‘technology teacher’ and a ‘teacher’ now. Technology is the environment that surrounds our students and it is the context in which they will learn the best. It is what they are familiar with and we can not extract what we we want to teach them and do it outside the sphere of technology. 

The greatest Aha! Moment was to discover that the question of whether I have to use technology to be a teacher is no longer relevant. I have to be a technology integrated teacher if I want to be the best teacher possible. 

Therefore, be it the UNHCR – Against All Odds refugee game to further all sorts of fund raising activities (student generated) or using QR codes to link a poster on the Bay of Pigs conflict (17 April 1961) between Cuba and the US (a project in Humanities 8th grade for unit – Conflict Among Nations).

Like Greta Turnberg in her speech at the 2019 UN Global Climate Action Summit in New York “How dare you?”  you think about teaching without recognizing the role of education in making your teaching less like a crossword puzzle where only you have the answers… It reminds me a bit of Greta Turnberg’s 2019 Climate Summit excerpt:

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