*pedagogy not included
Quite often, teachers will run up to me when I’m in a school and tell me how much technology has made their classrooms more enriching for their students. Technology has saved them. iPads, Chromebooks, SMARTboards, etc. have changed their lesson delivery and students are more engaged in their teaching methods. Teachers are enthusiastic to show me their lessons and student products, but more often than not, there is no evidence of a remarkable shift in education, merely old teaching techniques that are shrouded by flashy screens and gimmicky apps.
When schools or teachers ask for technology help or for advice around how to spend their budgets, my question is always, “Why do you need it?” Schools don’t need to replace paper, overheads, chalkboards, and whiteboards for the sake of change. In order for meaningful change to occur in our classrooms, we need to adjust our pedagogy and focus on how technology will transform our lessons so that they challenge students to create, connect, and grow in ways that they couldn’t before. We can’t use the same teaching techniques and expect different and, more importantly, improved outcomes simply because technology is incorporated. Technology is intended to change our teaching perspectives and expectations about what we, as educators, can do in a classroom. We can’t just gauge how successful technology has been integrated into the classroom by whether or not students can make a Google Doc and share it with us. They could have done that before with pen, paper and a hand-in box at the front of the classroom. We can, however, measure the impact of technology if our students share digital documents with each other, peer edit the documents using commenting tools and voice notes, show the growth of the document using the revision history and then provide a video reflection on their writing as well as what they learned about the skills gained through the peer editing and reflection. It is only when technology is used to innovate, in a way that is meaningful, personal, and collaborative that we can truly state that we are making strides in the right direction.
Taken from http://www.schrockguide.net/samr.html
Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model is a great way of self-checking the pedagogy behind introducing your technology infused lessons into the classroom. Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and ultimately, the Redefinition of a lesson, based on how technology comes into play, gives you insight into whether the technology is necessary to achieve the learning goals or if it is merely a glossy finish. As much as we love technology, we have to understand that it isn’t always a necessity in the classroom. When I hear about “paperless” classrooms, I often question their value to the students. Is it necessary or simply a gimmick to establish that a school or classroom is 21st century ready? Our students need to value learning and develop skills necessary to be successful in an ever changing world. A world that still needs artists who use canvas, musicians who use strings and ivory keys, mechanics that use hand tools, writers that use paper, and speakers that can resonate with others face-to-face. The digital learning needs and skills become just as important, but in a classroom where they are forced upon the students for the glamour and notoriety gained by the parading of the tools and products, are the students really learning or just being used as marketing tools?
Technology is great, but not the epitome of essential teaching skills. Being a great teacher requires that we can balance our lesson planning with skill development and curricular expectations to meet the needs of our students. Now, more than ever, students need to have technology incorporated into the classroom, so that proper use is modeled. Teachers need the time to learn the tools, with more emphasis on how and why they can be used in their classrooms. It isn’t easy… but that’s okay. Students need to see us struggle to learn something every once in awhile. Students need to learn that it is okay to fail. Students need to learn resilience in the face of adversity. Students need to learn that learning itself is a lifelong journey. Technology prepares our students for the digital age that they live in. A good teacher will prepare our students for life.
About Todd Sniezek
Todd Sniezek is an Instructional Coach at the District School Board of Niagara. In his past position as the IT4 Learning Consultant and in his new role, he spends the majority of his time learning and sharing his passion for technology integration with his board. His love of everything digital and fondness for embedding rich, technology-enabled learning in the classroom is infectious for everyone around him. He constantly pushes the limits of what can be done with the tools available and he is more than willing to share his excitement with anybody who asks and often with those that don’t.
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