I was fortunate to be able to attend the Future Schools Expo at the Australian Technology Park, Sydney, this week, on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th March with five different two-day conference streams on offer. Additionally, there was a pre-conference master class on offer, which ran on Tuesday 10th, and then six different masterclass options which ran on Friday 13th.
The conference streams were targeted to different areas of education: Leadership (FutureSchools stream), ‘coalface educators’ (ClassTech stream), educators who are interested in coding for their students (Teaching Kids to Code stream), educators wanting more information on how to utilise inclusive and assistive technologies in their classrooms ( S.E.T.N (Special Education Technology Needs) stream), and those involved in early childhood and infants education (Young Learners stream). As a classroom teacher in my first year out, I felt I would get the most value out of the ClassTech conference, and nominated to attend that.
In regard to the masterclass options, there were five. The pre-conference masterclass was Agile Leadership and was run with Simon Breakspear on the Tuesday. The remaining four masterclasses were run on the Friday. Charles Leadbeater ran Innovation in Education, Ian Jukes headed up the Aligning technology initiatives for measurable student results, Gary Stager ran a masterclass titled after his newly released book (written with Sylvia Libow Martinez), namely Invent to Learn: Making, Tinkering, and Engineering in the Classroom. Richard Byrne led the Making Media with Mobile Apps masterclass, whilst I attended Jon Bergmann’s masterclass, The Flipped Classroom: What’s Next?
My blog articles over the next week or so will be a wrap up of my thoughts and my learning from the various sessions of the ClassTech conference Stream, the Masterclass with Jon Bergmann and also the expo itself.
I’m aiming to get a blog post up, each day over the next week to get my thoughts out as quickly as I am able to. In the meantime, I would like to point you towards Matt Scadding’s blog posts from his time at FutureSchools this year. Matt attended the Teaching Kids to Codeconference stream, and so his reflection will come from a different place to mine.
Thanks for reading, and keep an eye out over the next few days.
See here for the list of articles in this series.
“There can be infinite uses of the computer and of new age technology, but if teachers themselves are not able to bring it into the classroom and make it work, then it fails.”
- Attributed Nancy Kassebaum
In the previous post, I wrote about the SAMR model, and how I have understood it so far, having only just discovered it myself earlier this year. If it is the first time you’ve heard of it, I hope that it made sense, and that it has inspired you to go and research authentic technology integration.
By way of a brief recap, the SAMR model is a way of thinking about the use of technology in the classroom that breaks technology use into four categories; substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition. Previously, I wrote about the first two categories, and this post will complete the exploration of the SAMR model.
The third category in the SAMR model is modification and it is the first of, continuing the Bloom’s Taxonomy analogy from the previous post, the higher order [technology uses], in the SAMR model. Modification allows for significant task redesign, such as recording a student’s presentation on a student’s iPad, and then using the playback of the recording to assist feedback delivery, providing the ability for the student to see themselves and see specific aspects that you are talking about. This use of technology, the iPad recording, modifies a typical teacher task (providing feedback) transforming the quality of the feedback and the way the students are able to process the feedback.
The use of technology in this way is the first where there is any real benefit to the students. Prior to modification, there has been, essentially, no change in pedagogy. All you have done is made things easier for the students. Modification can change your pedagogy, and can improve the students learning outcomes.
At the pinnacle of the transformation process, is redefinition, which is using technology to redefine the way a task is completed, in a new and previously not achievable method. The example I would offer of redefinition is the way that my CT has been using iPads to redefine his mathematics teaching. A traditional lesson involves some chalk-and-talk, some modelling, some independent work, and sessions of practicing with varying levels of achievement within a topic, followed by a summative assessment. It might be a week before you get a chance to mark it, identify that student x did not fully understand the concept, but you have moved on to the next topic as dictated by the scope and sequence.
The way that he/we are using the iPads redefines the task of maths teaching and learning. We utilise iTunes U to push out content to the students, including an overview of the topic, the learning goals and how the learning goals will be achieved. The content includes a video which contains the explicit teaching, which is made available for the students to watch back as often as they need. We either work through the video as a class, or deliver the explicit teaching through chalk and talk. The students then work through their Mathletics play list, and this is where we reap the real benefits, I believe.
The students complete two to four sets of ten-question activity, generated by Mathletics. As the students complete each set of activities, we are able to see their results populate, live, and then with a simple click, Mathletics provides us with groupings of <50%, 50-74%, 75-84% and 85%+. The expectation is mastery (85%+) and Mathletics provides feedback to the students in terms of their results by way of showing not just the results at the end of the activity, but also allowing students to click on a question which will allow them to see the question, their answer and the correct answer. Students also see a bar next to the activity on the topic screen, which will either be red, blue, gold with “Good Work” or gold with “Perfect” on it, and the students want the Gold bar with perfect.
We use these live groupings to be able to identify those students who are struggling with the skills, and can straight away either work with them individually, or conduct small group sessions as needed to address the skill deficiencies and ensure deep understanding.
Technology is a great tool to have, but that is all that it is, a tool. Without an understanding of how to leverage its potential to change the pedagogy and redefine tasks to maximise student’s learning outcomes, the digital education revolution, whether its funded by governments or parents, will falter and stagnate, as a result of same old same old with more expensive tools.
Thank you for reading, and please leave some feedback and share among your PLN.
See here for the list of articles in this series.
Teachers need to integrate technology seamlessly into the curriculum instead of viewing it as an add-on, an afterthought, or an event.
– Heidi-Hayes Jacobs
Initial teacher education (ITE) does give you a lot. I certainly feel like it has given me more than some of my peers indicate that it’s given them. But one thing that I don’t feel like it prepared me for was meaningful deployment of technology. Oh, certainly, we were told about SMART Notebooks, and to use ICT meaningfully, but we were not told what this actually meant in different contexts or how to ensure we were doing it.
Then, this year (2014), I walked into my Internship classroom; a Stage Three combined Year Five and Six class with a trial 1:1 iPad Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) system in place. Awesome I thought to myself, iPads! But then I realised that I had no framework for actually enacting pedagogical strategies through an iPad, no point of reference for how it would work in practice, or what could actually be done on iPads other than what I do on my iPhone.
I’ve written previously about why I teach, but why I teach does not prepare or assist me to make technology integration meaningful in and of itself. Fortunately, my classroom teacher (CT) is rather progressive, and very much driven by research-based best practice. He introduced me to the SAMR model, developed by Dr. Ruben Puentedura and a way of thinking about EdTech that had never occurred to me before.
The SAMR model outlines four ways in which technology can be used in an educational context, with two tiers of use which can be likened to lower and higher order thinking tiers in Bloom’s Taxonomy. The first two ways of utilising technology in the classroom are akin to Bloom’s lower order thinking skills, and are where technology is used only as a substitution to traditional pedagogies, or to augment traditional pedagogy. The second tier of the SAMR model is where technology is used to modify or to redefine the learning activity. This blog post will deal with the first half of the SAMR model, substitution and augmentation, which my CT likened to the lower order thinking components of Bloom’s Taxonomy.
The way that my CT described SAMR to me was in comparison to the recent laptop program Australian high schools, formally known as the Digital Education Revolution which, among other things, saw every Year Nine to Twelve public high school student provided with a laptop. Whether it was a success or failure seems to depend on who you talk to (I know some teachers and administrators who are completely against laptops and tablets on the back of the laptop program).
My CT said to me that if you ask parents buy a tablet/laptop as part of a BYOD program, such as is being trialed in his classroom, and all you do is used it as a substitution for a writing book or a textbook, that you will not necessarily have improved the learning outcomes, but you will have made the learning outcomes more expensive for the parents.
That made perfect sense to me, and I can see that using them substitutionally would annoy parents. I see using interactive whiteboards (IWBs) purely for their projector as being merely a substitution for an overhead projector/tv and VCR or DVD player, and yes, this does happen.
Substitution is an easy trap to fall into. You feel that you are using ICT, so you feel like you are contributing to Twenty-First Century Teaching, however, you are not actually changing anything, other than the medium being utilised. Changing the medium is in itself not necessarily a bad thing, but if that is all you are doing, then it is not enough.
The next stage after Substitution is Augmentation. This is where the deployment of the technology only utilises a small portion of its potential. The technology is acting as a direct substitution with some functional improvement. An example of augmentation, I believe, would be using the often built-in functions of many e-textbooks available on digital devices, such as dictionary definitions, bookmarking, chapter hyperlinks etc. You have gained some functional improvement, but not really any pedagogical or learning outcome improvement.
I have already mentioned that my CT likened substitution and augmentation deployment of technologies as being akin to the Lower Order Thinking phases of Bloom’s Taxonomy because they serve a purpose and are useful, but you will fail to challenge students much by doing so.
Next weekend, I will examine the top half, or to continue the Bloom’s Taxonomy analogy, the ‘higher order thinking’ components of the SAMR model; modification and redefinition. I’d appreciate any feedback on this or my previous blog posts, but thank you for reading.
See here for the list of articles in this series.