Category Archives: ECI833

Learning Theories and Their Influence in the Classroom

A number of instructional theories that were developed years ago, still heavily influence the education system today. These theories include: Behaviorism, Cognitivism and Constructivism. Up until recently, I hadn’t given much thought to the specific learning theories that have impacted me as a teacher and the different methods of instruction I use over a course of a day in my classroom. However, after some thoughtful examination, I can name many instances in which behaviorism, cognitivism and constructivism have all had a role in the way I deliver instruction to my students each day. In addition, technology continues to have a major role in the way I deliver content to my students today and as a result I see aspects of connectivism being a part of my teaching repitore.

Behaviorism

Ertmer and Newby (2013) describe behaviorism as a theory which “contends that responses that are followed by reinforcement are more likely to recur in the future” (p. 48). By using reinforcement, an individual can progress from basic to more complex skills. When thinking of behaviorism what comes to mind are many of the classroom management strategies I have used both in the past and currently. During my first year of teaching, I taught a grade 7/8 split. I found my classroom management strategies being challenged daily. Closer to the end of the year I told the students that if they could not behave in the classroom we wouldn’t be able to go on a field trip at the end of the year. Needless to say we did not go on a field trip that year. The next year I had most of the same students as I taught the grade 7/8/9 split. We had a discussion, and decided that if they could get to 250 “good behavior” points by the end of the year we would go on a camping trip. Well we did go that year, and honestly to this day it was one of the most enjoyable field trips I have been on to date.

The Primary Peach: How to Set-Up a Classroom Economy
http://www.theprimarypeach.com/2016/08/how-to-set-up-classroom-economy.html

Another classroom “behaviorist” system I have used is called the “classroom economy” developed by Raef Esquith. With this system students are assigned a job, given a monthly salary, and can earn bonuses by completing assignments, being at class on time or being caught being kind to a fellow peer. At the end of each month students are required to pay a standard rent for the desks and can choose to spend their money on items that are sold at the weekly auctions. Students are required to do extra cleaning at recesses if they do not have enough money to rent their desks at the end of the month. I don’t use this all year, but I have found students to be highly engaged with this activity. In recent years, I have been able to utilize technology and teach students how to use google spreadsheets and formulas to keep track of the amount of money that they have in their “bank accounts”. While this activity does encourage positive behavior in the classroom, it also promotes life skills such as budgeting.

Now while there are many “behaviorist” methods I use in my classroom, I know that this is not a model for everyone and I think it is important to recognize students of differing abilities. For example, a student ADHD will struggle with impulse control and therefore may have difficulty behaving for a reward or consequence. To this day I have found that one of the key teaching strategies I use is having a positive relationship with the students I teach. As Theodore Roosevelt once said ” Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care”.

Cognitivism

Ertmer and Newby (2013) describe cognitivism as a theory that ” stresses the acquisition of knowledge and internal mental structures and focuses on the conceptualization of students learning processes and addresses the issues of how information is received, organized, stored and retrieved by the mind” (p. 51). For me the ideas behind this theory are a large part of the curriculum that we as teachers use everyday. The outcomes state what the students need to know and the indicators suggest ways that students can demonstrate their understanding of this knowledge. For example, in grade 4 the outcome HC 4.1 states that students will: Investigate the interdependence of plants and animals, including humans, within habitats and communities. The indicators use words such as identify, classify, draw upon, analyze, construct, and describe; all of which are words that lead to teachers to create lessons that concpetualize knowledge in different ways.

Constructivism

According to Ertmer and Newby, constructivists focus on creating meaning from experience. It is critical that learning takes place in “realistic situations and is relevant to students’ lived experiences” (Ertmer and Newby, p. 59). Constructivists advocate that learning needs to include practice, knowledge and contexts. The constructivist view does not just focus on learning a concept, but rather challenges the learner to apply their knowledge to different situations. To me this means higher order thinking tasks.

When I think of the influence consructivism has had on my teaching I think of Michael Fullan’s 6 C’s.

Picture
https://dlt3239.weebly.com/72-six-cs-times-two.html

Using the 6 C’s students are challenged to use their higher order thinking skills. They can apply and construct their knowledge to real world situations, which align with the constructivists view on learning theories. A big part of the 6C’s is communication. It makes me think of a more modern theory called “Connectivism” that has come about as a result of the digital age. Connectivism acknowledges that learning is not just an individual task, that occurs as a result of ones own experience, but that knowledge can be gained through the experience of others. Thinking of google and how easy it is to access endless amounts of information, connectivism points to the need for people to decipher through all of this knowledge to know what facts they find to be real and which ones perhaps are fake. I am finding to this be especially prevalent today with the constant flow of information regarding Covid-19, and the need to be able to tell which information is true and which information is not.

I agree with George Siemens point of view that “technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate and how we learn”. In addition Simons points out that past learning theories focus on how humans actually process information rather than on the value of what is actually being learned. I think this is an important point to consider, given the current technological age we live in. What has changed for me the most as a result of technology is the need for students to be taught about digital citizenship and how to safely and appropriately navigate this new world of endless information. I think it is important that as teachers we equip students with the skills they need to only communicate appropriately, but also sift through all the information that is readily available at their fingertips.

Sources

Ertmer, P., & Newby, T. (2013). Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From An Instructional Design Perspective. Performance Improvement Quarterly 26(2), 43-71. https://northweststate.edu/wp-content/uploads/files/21143_ftp.pdf

Siemens, G. (2001). Connectivism: A Learning Theory For A Digital Age. https://jotamac.typepad.com/jotamacs_weblog/files/Connectivism.pdf

A Theory for Everything

This weeks class and readings brought me back to my undergraduate degree (which was a long time ago).

TLM image

As I re-acquainted myself with the theories of Behaviourism, Cognitivism, Constructivism, and Connectivism I found my mind twirling in circles.

Head Spinning GIFs | Tenor

Looking back over my career, my guiding philosophies and classroom practice has evolved. I remember back to my first position and I would say I followed a Behaviourism practice. I (a little embarrassing looking back) had a chart on the wall where students got a ‘+’ for good behaviour and a ‘-‘ for non-desirable behaviour. At the end of the week, I would total up the pluses and minuses and each student would choose rewards. If a student was +3, they would choose 3 rewards. If a students was in the negative, they wouldn’t receive any rewards. Totally extrinsic motivation! Thankfully, I’ve moved on from these practices. More recently I would say that I follow mainly a Constructivism ideology, but sometimes Cognitivism ideologies are present.

After reading the piece on Connectivism I see this is where I strive to be. Points in this article that really resonated with me were: “Technology is altering (rewiring) our brains” and “Know-how and know-what is being supplemented with know-where (the understanding of where to find knowledge needed). These ‘trends in learning’ are changing the ways we need to teach.

Connectivism: a network theory for teaching and learning in a connected  world

Learning Theories in the Classroom

What is learning anyway? As Schuell explains (Interpreted by Schunk, 1991), “Learning is an enduring change in behaviour, or in the capacity to behave in a given fashion, which results from practice or other forms of experience.” To define learning in a sentence or two is a very tricky task that people much smarter than me can’t even agree on. What we can agree on is that learning can look vastly different based on the environment, opportunities, access to resources, and many other internal and external factors. Not only do our personal beliefs and choices control how we teach, things such as standardized testing and division initiatives will also have an impact on what we do in the classroom. Lastly, our personal education, whether that be in K-12 or university will play a major role in what we do in our own classroom. Last week’s class was a great opportunity to think about our current/past practices and critically analyze some of the things we are doing. To be perfectly honest, I don’t give much thought to learning theories in my own practice. What I can say though is that I’ve experimented with many different theories and practices in my career. Nonetheless, this topic gave me the perfect opportunity to think and reflect on some of the things I am currently doing in my 5th year of teaching. To achieve a better understanding of how these learning theories influence my teaching practice, I looked at a few theories, reflected on my career, and made some connections to educational technology.

Behaviorism

As Ertmer and Newby (2013) explain, “Behaviorism equates learning with changes in either the form or frequency of observable learning.” In terms of my experience in school as a student, I think much of what I did was rooted in the behaviorism theory. As there is an emphasis on producing observable and measurable outcomes, this was often achieved by testing or completing questions that had a right or wrong answer.

In my experience as a teacher, I can definitely see some times where behaviorism is utilized to achieve a desirable result. As Matt Bresciani mentioned in his blog post, we utilize a school-wide SWPBIS (School-Wide Positive Behaviour Interventions and Supports) framework to identify and reward certain types of positive behaviour in our school. As Matt says, “While it could be argued that we are just bribing the students, I far prefer this method as you don’t need to hand out tickets every time, as the goal of this strategy to use behaviour specific praise when we see these positive behaviours.” In my personal experience using the SWPBIS system, it’s been extremely beneficial in the language and interactions that I have with students daily. As teachers can get caught up on focusing on the negative aspects of student behaviour or work habits, this program encourages teachers to find the positive things that are happening around your building. Also, I have witnessed this program contribute to the positive culture that exists at my school of St. Kateri. Instead of only focusing on those students that are causing problems, students are rewarded and recognized for doing good things.

In my first year of teaching, I used an iPhone for a classroom reward system. The premise was pretty straight forward and not all that developed (Give me a chance…. It was my first year). I would reward an app, at random, if I felt the students were doing something great. This could be excellent behaviour in mass, showing leadership around the school, or any other desired behaviour. Once the students earned 9 apps, they were given a classroom reward. Did it work? I think for some students. Was it fair no all students? I don’t think so.

I have totally went away from overall classroom reward systems. Would I fault a teacher for using them? Not a chance. I think there are some classrooms that can really benefit from these reward systems. In my classroom, I prefer to reward and correct individual student behaviour.

Cognitivism

Ertmer and Newby (2013) explain that, “Cognitive theories stress the acquisition of knowledge and internal mental structures… they focus on the conceptualization of students’ learning processes and address the issues of how information is received, organized, stored, and retrieved by the mind.” I can connect with some of the common themes throughout the cognitivism theory. As there is an emphasis on making knowledgeable meaningful and helping learnings organize and relate new information to existing knowledge, I think this is very beneficial for students. In many different subject areas, I try to relate the content and topics as to what’s currently happening in our world or society. Whether it be using “real life” examples of numbers in math class or utilizing current events for a variety of subjects, these meaningful connections create good opportunities to make connections to what they already know.

Educational Technology and Learning Theories

Audrey Watters writes, “These behavior management apps are, in many ways, a culmination of Skinner’s vision for “teaching machines”—“continuous automatic reinforcement.” But it’s reinforcement that’s combined now with a level surveillance and control of students’ activities, in and out of the classroom, that Skinner could hardly have imagined.

When thinking about some educational technology tools utilized to encourage certain types of behaviour or answers, it’s hard not to see many connections to what Skinner was doing in the 1950’s. The teaching machine offers many of the same features that are readily available in many different ed tech tools.

ClassDojo, Kahoot, and Knowledgehook are a few examples of tools designed to reward students for a certain type of response or behaviour. As I’m not expert of learning theories, I really can’t say whether these are good or bad for student learning. As with anything in education, most, if not all educational technology tools can be used for good or bad. In my experience, I think it’s about finding a combination of learning theories that works well with your personal beliefs and goals.

A Look into Learning Theories

Learning is something that sustains our society and drives our world. It is integrated into every facet of our lives. Are you curious how to bake bread? Are you interested in becoming a skilled guitar player? Do you want to know how to solve an intricate math problem? You can learn it! You can learn through storytelling, reading books, researching online, or through experience.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

The list is endless.

If you’re like me, however, you are probably unaware of the theories that are behind this driving force of learning. Behaviorism, cognitivism, constructivism… these are all learning theories that have been established over time. Little did I know, these theories (and more) have been interwoven in my teaching practices throughout the past seven years. Paul Stevens-Fulbrook does a great job of breaking down the meaning of each theory in regards to education.

Behaviorism:

“Behaviourism is based on the idea that knowledge is independent and on the exterior of the learner. In a behaviourist’s mind, the learner is a blank slate that should be provided with the information to be learnt.”

This theory is about repeating certain actions and then receiving a reward or consequence based on that action.

Cognitivism:

“Cognitivism focuses on the idea that students process information they receive rather than just responding to a stimulus.”

This theory allows the student to reorganize information with their past knowledge, process it, and then apply it to their own world. In the article, “Behaviorism, Cognitivism, Constructivism: Comparing Critical Features From an Instructional Design Perspective”, Peggy A. Ertmer and Timothy J. Newby state that “when a learner understands how to apply knowledge in different contexts, then transfer has occurred.”

Constructivism

“Constructivism is based on the premise that we construct learning new ideas based on our own prior knowledge and experiences. Learning, therefore, is unique to the individual learner. “

The theory of constructivism is not about facts or memorization, but instead, it allows the learner to gain knowledge based on interactions and experiences.

Theories in my Teaching

All three of these theories have showed up in my classroom in various ways. They have even played a part in my pedagogy, and some currently still do.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I am intentional about cultivating deep discussions with my students, using real-world examples in my lessons, and encouraging problem solving in learning… which all resonate with cognitivism. I have facilitated inquiry based learning, group collaboration, and research projects in my grade 3 classroom… which all fall under the theory of constructivism. However, the theory that I connect with the least is behaviorism.

When I first started teaching, I didn’t understand the negative connotations that this “action and reward” theory can have in education. I am guilty of using it in the past for different activities in my classroom, such as classroom incentives, student behaviour charts, and positive feedback or reward for good behaviour. I now realize that when the theory of behaviorism is used in this way, it has the potential to cause shame and guilt within our students. Like I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post, specifically about Class Dojo, it “can create a negative label for students at a young age and wrongfully gives teachers the opportunity to present their own biases towards certain children.”

My Connection to Connectivism

Photo by Junior Teixeira on Pexels.com

As I evolve and grow as an educator, especially as an educator who uses EdTech, so do my theories and educational practices. I have never been able to put a name to my current educational pedagogy, but through our readings this week, connectivism resonated with me. This theory has been established within the internet era, unlike the three other theories mentioned above. I appreciate the modern take on learning that connectivism brings. In an article called “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age”, George Siemens reminds us that “over the last twenty years, technology has reorganized how we live, how we communicate, and how we learn”, and “learning now occurs in a variety of ways – through communities of practice, personal networks, and through completion of work-related tasks.” The theory of connectivism gives freedom to the individual to learn in their own way and to seek knowledge through different avenues. Learning doesn’t necessarily have a start and an end.

As I look forward in my teaching career, my desire is to give ownership to the students in their learning process so that they learn the skills necessary to “flourish in a digital era”. My pedagogy and practice may continue to change over time, but my desire to instill a love for learning in my students will stay the same. At the end of the day, isn’t that what it’s all about?

-Amanda Brace

Which “ism” am I?

Source

Where does knowledge come from and how do people know? This is like which comes first, the chicken or the egg?

Which “ism” am I?

What a thought provoking (and maybe a bit confusing) thing to think of. What fits my own teaching philosophy or classroom practice? Which “ism” am I? Behaviourism… Constructivism… Cognitivism… or Connectivism? My mind was feeling a little like the map of learning theories…

I think there is so many ways I cross over within these theories of learning but in reading the map and diving more deeply into it. I feel I most connected to Experiental Education, as I feel building a direct relationship or connection with the student is the most meaningful learning tool and whatever I am going to teach them or how I am going to teach them will all fall into place after the fact. Relationship, content, and experience are key. Another learning theory would be Constructionism as I feel students work best when they can collaborate in a meaningful way, build on new knowledge and so it learning is more student driven so the kids have ownership in their learning. I also resonate with Meanginful Learning as this type of learning is applicable and they are able to transfer it in real life situations.

As a teacher and a life long learner, my most meaningful learning experiences are when I get to network and learn from other like minded individuals in PD opportunities or Communities of Practice. When you are passionate about what you are learning and it is easy to integrate right away into your practice, it is extremely beneficial.

I enjoyed this week’s readings and am very glad I wasn’t around to experience Skinner’s teaching machine. One article that really resonated with me was Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age . In it, Siemens explains that we need to add an alternative theory, connectivism to the other theories as the others were established before the use of technology. Knowledge is changing and becoming obsolete at a much more alarming rate than ever before. He states some signigicant learning trends such as the variety of fields most learners will encounter over their lifetime, the importance of informal learning with things such as PD opportunities and Communities of Practice. He recognizes that we are all life-long learners , that there needs to be more of a connection between the organization and the learner as they are both “learning organisms” and “technology is altering(rewiring) our brains” (p.2). With this ever changing world, students need to know where and how to find knowledge.

I feel more than ever that kids are different learners than they were when I was young, and this is due to technology. This is why more than ever, we need to ensure that technology is fluid in our classroom. It is not an add on. It is, as Dean would say “invisible”in our classrooms to prepare them for the future in a world that is changing so rapidly. As well, more than ever, we are going to have to ensure that Digital Citizenship is infused into our learning environments as well?

When I sat and reflected on the question, how has my teaching shifted from the start of my career to now I have to say that I let the students drive much more of their learning than ever I ever did at the start of my career. I am much more comfortable in giving up that control. I teach the content from the curriculum, but now for the most part let students have input in their own learning. They always blow me away at what they can produce. As well, I let them learn more from each other than ever before. They are great collaborators and learn so many more skills from eachother than just what they are learning in content.

In closing, I am very grateful to be in a class like this to increase my own knowledge as it makes me a little anxious to know that I have so much to prepare my students for.

Defining Contemporary Educational Technology

Classroom“Classroom” by James F Clay is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

When first thinking about what contemporary educational technology entails, I thought of all the modern digital technologies being used in classrooms today to either teach or support the learning of students. For example, SMART boards, online learning environments, Chromebooks, and the Google Suite, just to name a few. However, after our most recent EC&I 833 class and some further reading, my thoughts on this term have changed significantly.

There is a great historical basis to the current technologies and methodologies being used in classrooms today. During class we learned that centuries ago Aristotle described three different types of knowledge.

Episteme- scientific and universal knowledge

Techne- technical knowledge

Phronesis- practical knowledge

By recognizing that there are different types of knowledge it makes sense that there are different ways of acquiring this knowledge. In modern times, this idea that there are different kinds of knowledge and different ways of acquiring this knowledge could be summed up using the TPAK model.

https://educationaltechnology.net/technological-pedagogical-content-knowledge-tpack-framework/

This model demonstrates how technology with a pedagogical directive can be used to deliver and facilitate learning. Another way of looking a the different types of knowledge and ways of acquiring it is through Dale’s Cone of Experience.

During class, I found it to be very interesting that none of the information found on Dale’s Cone of Experience is scientifically sound, yet is often used for instructional directives. It does however provide a good visual for different ways of using media.

Through the examination of different kinds of media we began to discuss the difference between soft vs hard technologies. Hard technologies are those such as a refrigerator or basic telephone. Soft technologies are those in which the user has control and can manipulate such as the modern iPhone and its many apps and tools that can be used. Our professor Alec made an important point stating that “creativity belongs in the mind of the person using it”. This made me think of all the different kinds of technology we use in the classroom that might not be deemed “technological” but are in fact a kind of technology.

In the article called A short history of educational technology, the author Tony Bates discusses the different types of educational technology that have been used throughout the centuries, starting with oral communication, to written, to radio and TV and right into today’s digital age and the dawn of social media. To some extent all of these different types of technology are being used in classrooms today. A point in the reading that really stood out to me was that “new technology rarely completely replaces old technology”.

I read an article awhile back titled How the Ballpoint Pen Killed Cursive, written by Josh Giesbrecht. The article examines how the design of the ballpoint pen better supports printing, while its predecessor, the fine point pen with its fast and smooth running ink was a great tool for handwriting. Now while cursive writing is no longer in the school curriculum, I sill think there is a need for students and adults alike to know how to hand write in certain situations. For example, when a person needs to sign their name for a passport, driving license or when writing a cheque for the bank. I believe that a handwritten name is part of a person’s identity. This demonstrates that while a new technology ay not fully replace an old technology, certain skills may become lost or no longer deemed necessary when new more “efficient” technologies are developed.

I agree with Giesbrecht that through the “process of examining the historical use of ordinary technologies as a way to understand contemporary ones”. In conclusion, when I think of what contemporary educational technology entails I think of all the different means teachers and students alike use to learn, create and gain knowledge about the world around them. I think that students benefit from using a variety of technologies both old and new to gain the knowledge they need to be successful in today’s society; after all one size doesn’t fit all.

The Deeper Definition of EdTech

Photo by bongkarn thanyakij on Pexels.com

Technology has been a part of my classroom ever since I started teaching. Over the years, I’ve developed a passion for using technology in education, but my definition of Educational Technology, otherwise known as EdTech, has evolved and changed over time. There are many ways to describe EdTech, but according to Wikipedia, it’s “the combined use of computer hardware, software, and educational theory and practice to facilitate learning” and “improve user academic performance.” If I were to critically examine this definition of EdTech, I would say it’s lacking some substance. If I looked at this definition when I first became familiar with EdTech seven years ago, I would have simply agreed with it.

When I first started teaching, I was eager to use technology in my new grade 3 classroom. I didn’t have a lot of experience with it, but I was creative, ambitious, and willing to experiment through trial and error. However, when I first began, I used EdTech for the sole purpose of using EdTech. It was for the image and the anticipation of the “cool” tricks I could perform in my classroom. I didn’t think about the purpose, the repercussions, and most importantly, the privacy or protection of my students. I was unaware that with the use of EdTech comes responsibility to do my research.

Neil Postman, an American author, educator, and critic of media and culture, wrote an article that analyzes and critiques modern advancements and change in technology. He reminds us that “we need to proceed with our
eyes wide open so that we may use technology rather than be used by it.” This is something I didn’t consider when I first started my journey with EdTech as a first year teacher. Postman lists “5 Things We Need To Know About Technological Change.” The ideas can be summed up like this:

  1. “For every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage.” Lisa talks more about this idea in her recent post, “The Price of Technology.”

  2. “The advantages and disadvantages of new technologies are never distributed evenly among the population.” He suggests that we ask ourselves important questions when we use technology and media, such as:

    Why do you do this?
    What interests do you represent?
    To whom are you hoping to give power?
    From whom will you be withholding power?

    As educators, it’s absolutely critical that we ask these questions.

  3. “Every technology has a prejudice.” Postman goes on to say that technology and media have biases. He reminds us that “it predisposes us to favor and value certain perspectives and accomplishments.”

  4. “We must be cautious about technological innovation” because “the consequences of technological change are always vast, often unpredictable and largely irreversible.”

  5. “When a technology becomes mythic, it is always dangerous because it is then accepted as it is, and is therefore not easily susceptible to modification or control.” Postman means that when we think of technology as the “be-all and end-all”, then there is no room to be critical and conscious of what we are using or promoting. He encourages us to ” view technology as a strange intruder.”
Fractus Learning (Mike Ribble’s 9 Elements of Digital Citizenship)

I still have a long way to go, but with the knowledge and insight I’ve gained through my teaching experience and my Master’s classes, I have come to realize that EdTech has multiple layers. These layers include digital access, security and privacy, equality and diversity, digital citizenship… a lot of which are included in Mike Ribble’s “9 Elements of Digital Citizenship.” It is not just about the “cool” tricks I can do in my classroom. EdTech needs to have deeper meaning and purpose, because at the end of the day, EdTech is not the teacher. So what does a deeper definition of EdTech look like? Here is what I would include in my definition today:

Educational Technology: “Using technology purposefully in education to enhance learning, empower students, provide access, establish protection and security, critically analyze media and news, and give equal opportunity.”

What does your deeper definition of EdTech look like?

-Amanda Brace

A Few Thoughts on Educational Technology

As I reflect on my understanding of educational technology, I can’t help to think about how much my knowledge and teaching practices have changed over the past five years. Over the course of the past five years, I have been blessed to teach with Regina Catholic School Division. Not only have I worked with some very strong teachers in technological areas (See Matt Bresciani & Jennifer Owens), I have been a part of the connected educator program. Through experimenting in the classroom, professional development, and collaborating with a strong network of teachers using technology, I have been able to develop a deeper understanding of how to use technology in a positive and meaningful way in the classroom. Although I’ve had mostly positive experiences while using technology, I also realize that there are some challenges and problems with overuse and unnecessary use of technology in the classroom. The reality of technology is that it’s always evolving and changing, leading teachers to stay informed and educated on a wide variety of topics. My previous two classes, ECI 830 and ECI 832 have also had an impact of how I view and understand things such as the ethics of using technology in my classroom.

When thinking about EdTech in my own classroom, I utilize the SAMR Model to help me understand how I am doing at a particular time with technology usage.

When new to technology, I still remember that much of what I was doing was focused on the substitution level of SAMR. In basic terms, this was simply replacing traditional activities with digital versions. An example of this would be students using OneNote in the classroom to write notes instead of pen and paper. They are really learning the exact same thing, just using a laptop to do it. Although there is nothing wrong with substitution in the classroom, as this is generally where teachers become comfortable, you eventually want to take it further as you become more experienced and comfortable. In addition, if we are only ever using technology to substitute in the classroom, I’m not sure that the increased screen time is worth it for our students.

In my classroom, I would say that I’m probably the most comfortable with the augmentation level of SAMR. “This level involves incorporating interactive digital enhancements and elements like comments, hyperlinks, or multimedia. The content remains unchanged, but students can now take advantage of digital features to enhance the lesson” (Youki Terada, 2020). When looking at digital portfolios, parents are able to view their child’s digital portfolio via Seesaw, 24/7. In terms of formative assessment, students can receive instant feedback via Go Formative on a quiz they have taken. I think there are so many ways we can improve our lessons when working on the augmentation level of SAMR.

The last two sections, modification and redefinition, are extremely beneficial for students, as they provide many opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t be available wihtout technology. Whether it’s connecting with a class across the world through Flipgrid or creating their own blog on an environmental issue, students have a much larger and expanded audience. Students can solve and address real world problems when working on this level of the SAMR model.

Through my work in the connected educator program over the past four years, I’ve always focused on using the SAMR swimming pool analogy. To put it very simply, one can swim laps across the swimming pool to ensure we are hitting the various levels of the SAMR model. One might also be more comfortable in one area of the pool versus another. Regardless of where we are on the SAMR model, there is plenty of opportunity to swim across the pool, even if it requires some support.

Beyond the fancy tools and resources used by teachers in the classrooms, I think it’s vital to develop some key skills and competencies in students. The 21st Century Learning Skills provide a good framework and understanding of some of the skills we should be developing in our students. In a world full of technology, I believe it’s crucial that we teach our students the critical thinking skills to be successful. As they are exposed to fake news quite often, we much teach them the skills and abilities to identify and understand what they are consuming. There are many ways in which was can ensure we are leveraging technology to promote 21st century learning in our classrooms.

Overall, I think that educational technology is about using technology in the classroom to develop the skills and competencies needed to live in the everchanging world. Whether that’s learning how to collaborate, critically analyzing messages in the media, or addressing social issues, I think we can leverage this technology to develop strong skills in our students.

Educational Technology…My Limited Understanding.

The Impact of Technology on Education You Probably Never Realized -  Eduzenith

When I first began thinking about the topic of “educational technology” I started by thinking back over my teaching career (20 years) and how the technology we use changes. I think of educational technology as any tools or technologies that assist in the education of our students. Understanding new technology has always been a hobby of mine, but I have found as life has got busier with work and family, I am falling further and further behind when it comes to knowing about technology. I disagree with the above graphic that technology has made learning ‘easy’. It definitely engages some students who are otherwise unengaged.

After doing the readings for this week, I realized that I needed to go further back into my past to really think about what educational technology means to me and how it shapes my teaching practice.

In elementary school, you knew it was going to be a great day when you saw this:

Classroom movie projector--if you saw this when you walked into class, it was going to be a good day!

This machine meant we would be taking a break from the textbooks and exploring through pictures and sounds. The engagement factor from a simple machine was amazing. Unfortunately, the sound quality was horrible and more times than not…the tape bent or came loose. As the years went on the technology steadily (and quickly) became more useful for schools.

Vutec 54"H Wide Body TV Cart w/Elec VWBC54E B&H Photo

I am dating myself…but when I began teaching these fancy TV carts were all the rage. As with all technology, these were not without their own problems. I remember the frustration of having to sign out the TV cart and realizing that someone else had it signed out for when I needed it.

Educational technology is fluid and always changing. I feel this technology needs to be purposeful. Having the students use technology for the purpose of using technology is missing the point. All new technologies have benefits and drawbacks. As Neil Postman says in his talk Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change, “Technology giveth and technology taketh away. This means that for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage”.

Postman's Claims - Synthesis of Amusing Ourselves to Death

The technology I implement in my classroom must have advantages that outweigh the disadvantages. A big idea I got from EC&I 830 in the spring was the idea of the importance of teaching students not only how to responsibly use technology, but also teaching them about the disadvantages. As users of technology we need to be well informed. Postman articulated it well when he said that “The best way to view technology is as a strange intruder…its capacity for good or evil rests entirely on human awareness of what it does for us and to us”. Audrey Waters also speaks to this fact in her blog when she states that “it’s a strange and necessary time to be a critic of education technology”.

The Price of Technology

Technology, typically, to me means to be “plugged in, turned on or fully charged”. This however is not always the case as we look around the world of education. Take the pencil for example. It is a powerful yet simple tool that can be used to solve equations, write letters, stories, and draw to your hearts content. Take crayons, where you can add colour, texture detail and make that art come to life with colour.

In my education, the pencil was a major part of my technology, as well as the blackboard, overhead projector, sometimes we were treated to the the odd filmstrip. I actually enjoyed taking notes. I found it therapeutic to copy notes from the chaldboard. It was quiet and focused. In university, I had a great old typewriter. I even got to take typing class in high school. I loved it and found the repetition and clunky noise soothing. I didn’t actually have a computer until after I was finished my degree.

From computers, we moved on to flip phones and now to an iphone which can do so many things. However, with the readings this week there was one that stuck out. It was Neil Postman’s statement in his article, Five things we need to know about technological change … “we always pay a price for technology. The greater the technology, the greater the price.” This seemed profound to me. If we take a look at cars (or modern transportation in general) what have they done? Reaked a lot of havoc on the climate, helped to create an obese society,… but have made it very simple to get to point A to point B in a short amount of time, allowed the world to grow smaller, and have given us easier access to goods from far away. It seems like there is no fair trade.

If we look at technological advancements in medicine, there are amazing things being done in the world that allow people to live much better lives than they ever would have years past. But in the same regard it is almost like we want to live forever instead of enjoying what we have while we have it. It seems like people want quantity of life vs. quality. One profound statement that changed my outlook on life was made from an Indonesian man, when I found out he lost his two sisters because they were both born premature. I was saddened when he told me that they died because the hospital was too far away. But he consoled me and said, “we all have a moment we are born, a moment we are married, a moment we die. But in between, we need to smile, laugh and converse with our brothers of Lombok (which just means to shoot the shit)”. So in the end, shouldn’t we all learn to accept death as a part of life and enjoy the time we do have?

Technology brought about Social Media. Which has made an enormous impact in the world, probably the largest. Social media sites such as Google, facebook, instagram, are all some of the richest companies in the world and have many benefits. But in watching the netflix documentary, the social dilemma social media is creating so many more problems – spreading manipulative narratives, mental health problems, fake news, and a huge increase in suicides and hospitalizations, especially in preteen girls. This show actually prompted me to delete my social media because it scared me so much. Escpecially after hearing younger colleaugues telling me that when they were in high school, they would take down a post if they did not receive more than 100 likes. That made me feel sick.

https://media.giphy.com/media/XHwyKoris0mqyq0cyl/giphy.gif

In this regards I worry about what the state of the world will be in in the next decade and beyond and is the largest example of “paying the price for technology”.

In the mean time, I also look at how we have to pull back and teach kids ways to “unplug”- with things like, zentangles, art therapy, yoga, mindfulness, and happiness. So in a way, the pencil is still a powerful tool- a tool of therapy where you can write or draw which is therapeutic. So I hope our world finds a healthy balance between “plugged in, turned on, charged up” technology and good ol’ paper technology.