Technology use “…if it’s appropriate.”


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I was checking out some of the video on the site in preparation for several workshops with teachers on Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR Model of Technology Integration. Here are two that got me thinking about how to move from the enhancement stages to the transformation stages within the SAMR Model:

Last week, I was planning for the workshops with several administrative colleagues. In reflecting on our planning session, my brain kept coming back to a comment that was frequently shared, “…if it’s appropriate.” I feel this phrase is a cop out, an excuse for us not to have to change anything in the learning environment. The two examples linked above support my thinking. Neither of the examples is poor or low level teaching/learning. However, they do reflect a learning environment with LIMITED to NO student technology access. We don’t have that kind of environment in our schools; every student has access to a laptop computer 24/7. (See our site to learn more about our initiative.)

This kind of access REQUIRES teaching and learning to be different since students now have access to every kind of information and idea, inside and outside the classroom. How do we get teachers (and administrators) to realize that because of 24/7 access to technology, changes in teaching and learning must occur. I understand this kind of change is going to happen piecemeal, but it has to happen…it needs to be a non-negotiable.

As a result of my thinking, I would like to work toward the following outcome of our SAMR workshops…

GIVEN:  Teachers and administrators must think deeply about how we change teaching and learning practices when all of our students have ubiquitous access to technology.
OUTCOME: As a result of understanding the SAMR framework, teachers (and administrators) are able to THINK about and DESIGN rich learning opportunities for students in a technology-rich environment. Can the workshop participants commit to 1 or 2 lesson redesigns before the end of the year?

As school leaders we need to make sure that we set the expectation and engage teachers in conversations that transform the practices of teaching and learning. We cannot allow the “..if it’s appropriate” thinking to creep into the conversation. It is really nothing more than a block and an excuse, deliberate or not.

What other frameworks or models do you use to engage teachers and school leadership in the conversation about transforming teaching and learning in technology-rich environments?

The Neutrality of Technology and Social Media

social-media-bandwagonThis is a valuable share because we tend to blame technology rather than ourselves for the negatives. Technology is inherently neutral – neither good nor bad. It’s all in how WE choose to use it. The article The Advantages and Disadvantages of Student Social Media Use from Justin Marquis, Ph.D. (@drjwmarquis), effectively outlines a lot of what we hear about the advantages and disadvantages from teachers, students and parents.

“There is no right or wrong answer about social media in our educational systems. It is an evolving method of communication and one that is only more likely to gain acceptance and prevalence. Rather than rail against it, it makes more sense to embrace it, minimize the negatives and teach students new ways of engaging with social media, their instructors, and each other that will support them in becoming connected learners with the skills to become successful connected workers.”

How are we as educators personally using social media and technology tools? I see gaps in use from leadership to teachers. Not enough of us fully participate from a learning perspective. How are we instructing our students in how to manage the negative aspects of technology and social media, and, more importantly, how are we shaping their positive use of these tools? Our work with students in these areas is lagging further behind. We can start by using these tools in the positive ways outlined by Marquis.


innovationI have to agree with Paul Bruno’s (MrPABruno) interpretation of “innovation” in his post today, Resolve to avoid these 5 meaningless educational phrases:

Innovative – Every once in a great while somebody will come up with an idea that is clever and new in education – flipped classrooms, maybe? – but in the vast majority of cases educational policies and practices described as “innovative” are anything but. The term gets used to describe everything from KIPP schools to project-based learning, neither of which involves much that hasn’t been in use for decades. When people describe an educational practice as “innovative” what they usually seem to mean is that it is a practice they endorse and believe is underutilized. If everyone’s favorite educational practices can be considered innovative, however, the word has probably ceased to mean anything.

What then is innovation? Is it second-order: perceived as a break with the past; lies outside existing paradigms; conflicts with prevailing values and norms; requires acquisition of new knowledge and skills; requires resources currently not available; attracts resistance? We have to at least start addressing the structures of time, grouping and space if we even want to get close to innovation. What are some examples in education that fit this definition? Hard to say since we tend to tinker instead of innovate.

Powerful Thoughts

I really like this quote and visual from Jackie Gerstein, Ed.D. and her recent post titled, Information Abundance and Its Implications for Education. Take a moment to reflect on her words…. I don’t think we in education really understand the world we live in and how we need to change our response to it. Based on what we see in the vast majority of schools today, these ideas are not even on the radar of most educators (especially leadership). How can we not provide the appropriate access to an abundance of information for our students?


Preparing Students for College and Career

With the impending arrival of the common core, we often hear the rationale for the accompanying shifts in teaching and learning as “preparing students for college and career.” I have no issue with this idea. In fact, I think it is a very good one. But are we all in agreement what “college” and “career” looks like? I think not.

Let me share two resources I’ve recently found that make me wonder if “preparing students for college and career” is just a bunch of hot air and not really different thinking. First, check out this infographic about the future of higher education and explain to me how our K-12 school systems are preparing students for the “substantial change” scenario of college.

The Future of Higher Education


The second resource is a video from The Teaching Channel. The Teaching Channel is an excellent resource, particularly for the Common Core, largely because it contains many video examples focused on the common core and good instructional practice. Visit the site and check out some of the videos, paying particular attention to the learning environment. Or you can take a few minutes and watch the example linked below from the site. How is the learning environment, void of any technology tools, preparing our students for college and career? Is it possible to have a learning environment (one that prepares students for real world work and challenges) that does not provide the access to technology to identify, research, question and collaboratively develop solutions to those problems?

Example: Start with a “Do now”