Integrating Technology through the lens of a Learning Designer

In the last research module of this quarter, “Co-Planning 21st Century Learning Activities”, I decided to focus on the idea of integrating technology through a learning designer lens. As I read through my weekly reading of Les Foltos’ book “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration”, I learned more about the Learning Design Matrix and how coaches had inadvertently achieved the fourth quadrant of integrating technology just by focusing on the other three quadrants. This prompted me to question how coaches can help their learning partners to work through other ways to integrate technology in their classes, purposefully.   What is technology integration?  As I began my research on technology integration, I came across an article “What is Successful Technology Integration” that cited a great definition written by the International Society for Technology in Education of what technology integration is: “Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally.”   But how can begin to integrate technology into our classrooms? And how will we reflect on our integration? Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura has created a reflection model intended exactly for this purpose.   This model, named “SAMR” (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) represents the different levels that technology can be integrated into a lesson. This model shows the lowest level of enhancement being substitution and reaches a level of transformation in which technology has breached redefinition of a learning activity.   Here is another model for how educators can begin to understand the necessary knowledge to begin integrating technology. This model known as the TPACK framework (Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge) shows the need to have technological knowledge, content knowledge, and pedagogical knowledge before you can reach a level of understanding needed for integration of the three.   Designing learning based on technology integration  Now that we have looked at technology integration and some frameworks that help us to reflect on the basic levels of integration, we can look at designing learning based with technology integration.   Throughout my current Graduate program, I have learned about the Six “A”s of Project Design. I believe that a great start to designing learning through a technology integration lens could be to take-a-peek at how technology can help to achieve Steinberg’s the Six “A”s.   Here is a printable version of the Six “A”s along with a Project Examination Tool: HERE.   Let’s go through the different key aspects of the Six “A”s to see how technology can be integrated to achieve the criteria. (Each figure is found from https://newtechnetwork.org/resources/six-pbl-project-design/ and gives prompting questions to guide in the reflection of that aspect of project design).   Thinking of a project you have used or are planning, how can technology help to increase the authenticity of the problem or question? How can students become in the know about the authenticity? Can students reach out to others to see if this is a topic that others in the world value? How can students use technology to create or produce something that is personally valuable or socially valuable?  How can technology substitute or augment the type of engagement or application that students are participating in with this project? Can technology assist in the activation of higher order thinking skills? Can students use technology to assist in relating the content to a separate discipline or subject?  How can technology bring learning outside of the general classroom atmosphere? How can students use technology to assist in their personal organization of information and resources? How can technology help students to develop social emotional skills such as collaboration, problem solving, communication, etc.?   What technology is available to push students into the real-world? How can students interact with technology to reach into the world and push their learning to what is happening around the community or the world? How can technology help students to demonstrate what they are learning?  How can technology help in the gathering of students with experts in the fields surrounding the project? What technology is available to help link students with adults to collaborate on design and assessment?   What technology allows students to self-assess? How can technology be used for students to access and understand clear project criteria? What technology is available for students to present and be assessed both inside and outside the classroom?  There is currently a world of opportunities for technology integration in the classroom… and with each day that passes the number of options grows and grows.   In “Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration”, Les Foltos states, “I remember listening to nationally recognized leaders in the early 1990s telling us that technology was like a steamroller headed down the street, aimed right at educators. Educators had two choices: jump on the steamroller or become part of the pavement. Apparently, they overlooked a third option; educators could step aside. And they did.” It is time for us to choose the option of jumping on the steamroller.   How do you integrate technology into your classroom? What learning design framework have you found useful in the journey of becoming a “techy” classroom?  Resources  ISTE Standards for Coaches | ISTE. (n.d.-b). ISTE. Retrieved November 5, 2020, from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches  Larson, A. (2016, August 31). The Six “A”s of PBL Project Design. New Tech Network. https://newtechnetwork.org/resources/six-pbl-project-design/  Miller, A. (2011, September 26). Game-Based Learning Units for the Everyday Teacher. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/blog/video-game-model-unit-andrew-miller  Puentedura, R. R. (2014, December 11). SAMR and TPCK: A Hands-On Approach to Classroom Practice [Workshop]. 21C Learning Conference, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.  What Is Successful Technology Integration? (2007, November 6). Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description 

Continue reading

Resources for Meaningful Tech Integration

The Problem Okay, let’s be honest from one educator to another. When it comes to technology, have you ever felt like once you learn something new the educational world is already moving on to the next and greatest? Or have you ever just shrugged off the current technology trend and chosen to stick with what is familiar and comfortable when it comes to teaching? Perhaps you are trying to use different forms of technology, but feel like the technology is more of an expensive toy than actually enhancing and redefining the learning experiences? If you answered yes to any of those questions, you are not alone. “New, often more effective technology is created so quickly that teachers don’t feel like they can keep up with the onslaught” (Foltos, 2013, p. 134). Teachers also confess to having “stepped to the side” to avoid the steamroller of education and technology. A study was done by the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers that concluded only half of teachers felt adequately prepared to integrate technology into instruction and 1/3 of teachers asked students to use technology in problem-solving and research a few times a week (National Education Association, 2008, p. 17-18). And for those who are attempting to integrate technology, sometimes we end up doing basic substitution for other tools. The technology is not actually transforming learning, merely supporting traditional teaching methods. Where Do We Go From Here? Let’s start by redefining the term technology integration. Les Foltos (2013) proposes a new definition for technology integration in his book Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration: “Technology supports and enhances 21st-century pedagogy and content” (p. 146). So what should our focus really be on? Pedagogy, content, and student learning. The teacher’s first job is to design learning activities that feature solid content and effective pedagogy (Foltos, 2013, p. 146). After the learning activity is created THEN teacher and/or students can help choose the technology that will best help them accomplish the task. “Too often, teachers still plan their lessons around technology instead of putting learning first” (Foltos, 2013, p. 136). Annie Tremonte, a digital learning coach in Renton, Washington uses this analogy when working with teachers to highlight how we can become overly focused on technology: “No one ever said ‘Wow, Elmer’s glue is amazing. How can I design a whole lesson just around Elmer’s glue?’ Yet oftentimes we start with the technology we want to use and try to build a lesson around that. Why?” Coaches can help teachers focus first on student learning, and then choose the technology that helps students achieve those goals. A key question to consider is how can technology enhance or accelerate learning? Another way we can push for meaningful tech integration is by collaborating with coaches to develop relevant techno-fluency skills. Coaches can assist teachers in choosing the right type of technology by first asking them to define the task students will be doing, or the 21st-century skills the students will be working on, such as communication or collaboration. This will help you narrow your search for different types of technology to use. Coaches can then help research, model, or collaborate with the teacher to learn the new piece of technology. Teachers can also involve students when choosing appropriate technology (Foltos, 2013, p. 135). By having more proverbial “tech tools” in their toolbox, teachers can integrate tech in a more meaningful way. There are various tools and resources educators can use to keep technology-integration conversations focused on pedagogy and content when redesigning lessons. SAMR Technology is not this magic fix-all. If you employ technology, but are still teaching traditionally, nothing will change.  As Foltos (2013) put it: “Adding technology hasn’t changed traditional teaching and learning, but it has made poor pedagogy more expensive” (p. 143). Here’s how the SAMR continuum can help teachers avoid this pitfall. The SAMR model was created in 2010 by Ruben Puentedura and outlines four levels of technology integration. Substitution – replacing traditional activities and materials with digital versions. In other words, there is no change to the content, just the way it is delivered. Augmentation – substitution with some functional improvement. So the content stays the same, but teachers can enhance the lesson with various forms of technology like comments, hyperlinks, and embedded multimedia. Other examples of augmentation are gamifying your quizzes with Socrative and Kahoot or using virtual bulletin boards, like Padlet, for student collaboration (Terada, 2020). Modification – the technology significantly alters the task. Redefinition – learning is transformed by offering students opportunities that were impossible before. Some examples include global pen-pals, virtual field trips, or connecting with an expert for an interview, or getting feedback on your work. Teachers often focus on the first two levels, especially now during distance learning. Teachers replace traditional materials with digital ones: converting lessons and worksheets to PDFs and posting online, or recording lectures and videos for asynchronous learning (Terada, 2020). And this is good practice. We cannot be at the Redefinition level all the time. “It’s tempting to think of SAMR as a mountain to be summited. But good technology integration isn’t about living at the top of the SAMR model; it’s about being aware of the range of options and picking the right strategy—or strategies—for the lesson at hand” (Terada, 2020). TPACK The TPACK model focuses on three forms of knowledge: Content (CK), Pedagogy (PK), and Technology (TK). All three are essential in teaching. A highly effective teacher has a deep understanding of the subject matter being taught, is well versed in various methods of teaching and learning, and also has experience working with technology and knows how to apply it in order to enrich students’ learning. These three types of knowledge should be interwoven in the 21st-Century Classroom. While there is a natural overlap between the different types of knowledge, the goal is to be in the middle, where a teacher is effectively employing content, pedagogical, and technology knowledge all at once. This video does a great job explaining TPACK more in-depth and provides some real-world examples. Lesson Design Matrix If your school hasn’t gone through the process of establishing norms of effective instruction, check out the Learning Design Matrix. It was created by Les Foltos with the help of various educational leaders, coaches, and teachers. The goal is to create a mutual understanding between staff on what effective instruction looks like. The Learning Design Matrix can be used as a checklist that coaches and teachers can refer to when designing lessons. The bottom right box outlines the qualities of effective instruction when it comes to technology integration. I appreciate this resource because it can be a helpful tool and doesn’t focus on the technology itself, but how the technology can be used to collaborate, create, and empower students. Coaches can use this resource when working with teachers to design new curriculum or improve existing lessons regarding technology. ISTE Student Standards Lastly, educators can utilize the ISTE Student standards to keep technology focused on developing 21st-Century Skills. The ISTE standards “are all aimed at integrating technology to help students develop critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and problem-solving skills, as well as developing creativity and innovation” (Foltos, 2013, p. 143). These are exactly the kinds of skills our students need to be successful in the real world and should be at the center of the target when it comes to integrating technology. Summary While technology can become a powerful part of the learning journey – it should not be the focus. Pedagogy and student learning should always come first. Les Foltos says it beautifully: “Coaches must understand that best practices in technology integration are really best practices in 21st-century learning. Technology integration is all about the interrelationship of pedagogy, content, and technology. And technology is the least important of the three elements in this equation” (2013, p. 151-152). Whether teachers are feeling overwhelmed with keeping up, simply avoiding it, or poorly using technology, coaches can help. By redefining technology integration, collaborating with teachers to build capacity, and then using existing tools and resources, coaches can guide teachers in how to effectively use technology to transform student learning. Works Cited Common Sense. (n.d.). Introduction to the TPACK Model [Video]. Common Sense Education. https://www.commonsense.org/education/videos/introduction-to-the-tpack-model Edutopia. (2007, November 5). What Is Successful Technology Integration? Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/technology-integration-guide-description Foltos, L. (2013). Peer Coaching: Unlocking the Power of Collaboration. Corwin. Foltos, L. (2018). Learning Design Matrix. Peer-Ed, Mill Creek  Mkoehler. (2012, September 24). TPACK Explained. TPACK.ORG http://www.tpack.org/ Spencer, John. (2015, Nov. 3) What is the SAMR Model and what does it look like in schools? [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC5ARwUkVQg Terada, Youki. (2020, May 4). A Powerful Model for Understanding Good Tech Integration. Edutopia. https://www.edutopia.org/article/powerful-model-understanding-good-tech-integration Header photo by Good Studio, Adobe Stock

Continue reading

Technology Coaching Guide

For module 2 in my EDTC 6105 course, I focused on indicator f in the ISTE Coaching Standard 2. The indicator focuses on coaching teachers in and modeling research-based best practices of technology integration into their planing.  As a teacher, I’ll admit sometimes I don’t know the research behind the practices I’ve been taught or […]

Continue reading

The First Impression of a Digital Instructional Coach

As an educator I find myself saying “In our jobs, we are never bored”. I mean this as a complement to the profession; it doesn’t matter if I am in a room full of young students, college students, or adult learners, I am never bored and plan on keeping it that way. Often the cost of … Continue reading The First Impression of a Digital Instructional Coach

Continue reading

Evaluating Digital Tools

Our DEL 6104 class’s objective this module was to come up with a question based off ISTE coaching standard 3 performance indicators b, d, and f. The standard states, “Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students” (ISTE, 2014). The indicators d, and f focus on […]

Continue reading

Learning, First & Digital Tools, Second

Teachers are experts. We work on our craft, we study our content in depth,  and many of us are fortunate enough to teach the same grade or class year after year, perfecting the content lessons with care and detail. Within the current learning realities we need to move past the ‘on the page’ learning to … Continue reading Learning, First & Digital Tools, Second

Continue reading

Coaching with TPACK and Teacher Narratives

Since the release of the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education in 2011 and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, elementary and secondary science teachers have been in a exhilarating phase of adaptation and transition. Teachers are opening their minds to new ways of thinking about science education, and, with the right support, … Continue reading “Coaching with TPACK and Teacher Narratives”

Continue reading

Is SAMR Enough? Module 4: Teacher Practice and Technology Integration

Introduction to Module 4 For my post this week in Module 4 of my fall class, in Educational Technology Leadership I decided to focus on the SAMR model for technology integration. My district uses SAMR as a way to gauge technology integration but I wanted to know if there was a way to use that … Continue reading “Is SAMR Enough? Module 4: Teacher Practice and Technology Integration”

Continue reading

Connecting the Dots: Is there room for creativity in professional development?

Dot-to-dot puzzles. My kid loves them. Always has. Now in sixth grade, his favorites still start off 1-2-3, but now they’re cranked up to 11. Extreme puzzles like this one:   This giraffe puzzle (sorry to spoil the surprise… it’s a giraffe) has over 1300 dots to connect, but the concept is still the same […]

Continue reading