August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment
As we plan for the year ahead, and work to “infuse” our classrooms with new technologies, some powerful questions about technology integration via Dangerously Irrelevant. There’s power and provocation to conversation in asking, “Technology for the purpose of what?” A worthy reminder that all new approaches are not automatically the best approaches, but, to inflect the Bard, “Thinking [deep, meaningful thinking] makes them so.”
[My Leadership Day post this year introduces a new tool, trudacot, that we have been using to facilitate productive conversations with educators about technology-infused learning and teaching…]
We’ve got a lot of technology floating around our schools and classrooms these days. And while that can and should be a good thing given the digital age in which we now live, we often find that our technology-related efforts aren’t paying off for us as we had hoped. There are many reasons why this is true, but a main one is that we don’t have great ways to think about what’s occurring when we see students and teachers using technology for learning and teaching purposes.
TPACK and SAMR are the two main technology integration frameworks being used right now. While conceptually useful, both of them have their limitations. Neither are very specific when it comes to helping teachers think about what to change to make their technology integration better. The SAMR levels have the additional challenge of apparently meaning very different things to different people (I have witnessed on numerous occasions a particular usage of technology placed in all four SAMR levels by educator audiences). Resources like the TPACK activity types help with some of this, but my colleague, Julie Graber, and I were looking for something different. Failing to find what we wanted, we decided to make our own…
Starting with purpose
Technology integration should be purposeful. That very simple statement is at the heart of the trudacot template. When we use digital technologies for learning and teaching, those uses should be intentional and targeted and not simply ‘tech for tech’s sake.’ My team continually asks the question, ‘Technology for the purpose of what?’ With that in mind, Julie and I set out to create a template of questions that would allow educators to think critically – and purposefully – about their technology integration.
For example, if a class activity was using learning technologies for the purpose(s) of enhancing personalization or enabling greater student agency and choice, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:
- Learning Goals. Who selected what is being learned?
- Learning Activity. Who selected how it is being learned?
- Assessment of Learning. Who selected how students demonstrate their knowledge and skills and how that will be assessed?
- Work Time. During the lesson/unit, who is the primary driver of the work time?
- Technology Usage. Who is the primary user of the technology?
In contrast, if a lesson pulled in digital tools for the purpose(s) of enhancing student communication / connection, and perhaps even facilitating collaboration across locations, we would ask very different questions. The types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:
- Audience. How are students communicating? If with others, with whom? [students in this school / students in another school / adults in this school / adults outside of this school]
- Communication Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the communication processes? [writing / photos and images / charts and graphs / infographics / audio / video / multimedia / transmedia]
- Collaborators. How are students working? If with others, who is managing collaborative processes (planning, management, monitoring, etc.)
- Collaborative Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate collaborative processes? If yes, in which ways? [online office suites, email, texting, wikis, blogs, videoconferencing, mindmapping, curation tools, project planning tools, other]
Similarly, if teachers wanted students to use technology for the purpose(s) of enabling them to do more authentic, real world work, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished would be different from those previous and might include:
- Real or Fake. Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school?
- Domain Knowledge. Are students learning discipline-specific and -appropriate content and procedural knowledge? If yes, is student work focused around big, important concepts central to the discipline? [not just minutiae]
- Domain Practices. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate practices and processes?
- Domain Technologies. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate tools and technologies?
And if a lesson or unit integrated learning technologies for the purpose(s) of facilitating students’ deeper thinking, creativity, or metacognition, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:
- Deeper Thinking. Do student learning activities and assessments go beyond facts, procedures, and/or previously-provided ways of thinking? [e.g., ‘syntheses’ or ‘analyses’ that actually are just regurgitations]
- Creativity. Do students have the opportunity to design, create, make, or otherwise add value that is unique to them?
- Initiative. Do students have the opportunity to initiate, be entrepreneurial, be self-directed, and/or go beyond given parameters of the learning task or environment?
- Metacognition. Do students have the opportunity to reflect on their planning, thinking, work, and/or progress? If yes, can students identify what they’re learning, not just what they’re doing?
As I hope is evident, trudacot tries to get at some specific, concrete ‘look-fors’ that can help educators think about what they might change. In other words, we are attempting with trudacot to make explicit the kinds of questions we might ask when considering which intersection of TPACK – or level of SAMR – a particular instance of technology integration may be inhabiting (and how to shift it toward more robustness).
The complete, annotated, first version of trudacot is now available and includes some tips for usage. First and foremost is the suggestion to focus on just one or two sections of the template. Unless we’re designing a big, multi-week project, we need to pick and choose a few focal areas rather than trying to cover the entire template. Let me be clear: the trudacot template should NOT be used as a massive checklist of things that should be present in a teacher’s lesson or unit. A second suggestion is to answer a question or two from trudacot about a lesson or unit – preferably in small groups, not just individually – and then ask, ‘If we wanted the answer(s) to the question(s) to be different, how could we redesign this to make that desired answer happen instead?’ THIS is where the powerful conversations occur; THIS is the work we should be doing with educators. Finally, we are finding trudacot to have the most power as an up-front brainstorming, idea-generating, and design tool, not an after-the-fact evaluative tool. We want educators thinking about lesson and unit (re)design in ways that are safe and generative, not worrying about being judged.
In addition to the trudacot itself, you’re welcome to see the resources that we considered when creating the template and/or sign up on our mailing list for updates. Soon I will post some examples of how we have been introducing and using trudacot in our pilot activities this past spring and summer. Until then, I hope that you find trudacot useful to your own technology integration efforts and that it helps you foster rich discussions about lesson and unit (re)design with your educators. Please stay in touch as you have questions, ideas, and suggestions. The trudacot template is very much a work in progress – help us #makeitbetter! The more people that we have looking at and working with trudacot, the more useful it can become. Julie and I would love to hear how you’ve been using trudacot yourself so let us know!
Happy Leadership Day 2014, everyone. Thanks to all of you for helping me celebrate my blog birthday!
Supporting effective technology integration and implementation: 2012 ISTE Leadership Forum #isteLF12 How should communities evaluate their schools’ tech integration? [HELP WANTED] Memorial Day (and technology integration) tokenism What does “technology integration” mean? Hiring a technology integration team
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