Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Teaching students how to use technology -v- teaching students to use technology to learn

Recently I've started meeting with our teachers to discuss the NETS-S, and how they can support students acquiring these 21st century skills.  This has led us to consider the NETS-T and how important it is for us as teachers to consider our own professional growth.  The NETS-S and NETS-T standards align really well.  For example the one of the students' standards is creativity and innovation.  For students to be able to demonstrate these, one of the standards for teachers is that they should facilitate and inspire student learning and creativity.  We want students to understand human, cultural and societal issues related to technology and to practice legal and ethical behaviour (digital citizenship), therefore a standard that teachers need to consider is that they should also be promoting and modeling digital citizenship and responsibility.

The original NETS were created in 1998 and the focus of these was on mastering technological tools.  The focus of the new NETS is on "technological proficiency that comes as a result of e-learning and m-learning" or in other words, on digital fluency.  The aim of the NETS-S is for "authentic, inventive and emergent uses of digital technology and on how they apply outside the school setting".  The emphasis has therefore changed from knowledge and mastering technological tools to a focus on the skills that students will need to be successful in work and in life.

As we consider how to prototype a BYOD Device 2 at school, we are asking ourselves how this second device can promote 21st century skills.  Will a second device of the students' choosing enhance their ability to be creative, to communicate, to collaborate, to gather, evaluate and use inforamtion?  Will a second device help students to collaborate with those at a distance, promote personalized learning and to contribute to the learning of others?  Will mobile devices develop critical thinking skills, project management and problem solving skills and allow students to make more informed decisions about the appropriate use of digital tools and resources?

As I've been reading further in Kipp D. Rogers' book Mobile Learning Devices, I've been interested to look at the categories developed by Naismith et al for using mobile learning devices:
  • Behaviorist Activities (drill and feedback) - mobile devices allow teachers to collect data and check for understanding with tools such as backchannels and polls.  They also allow formative assessment in the form of multiple choice or free-text questions, allowing students to respond anonymously which may encourage more participation from students reluctant to speak up during class.
  • Constructivist Activities (simulations and games) - learning in real world contexts, with opportunities to interact with other students globally and locally.
  • Situated Learning (environments such as field trip and museums and problem based learning in groups) - this is performance based such as science experiments and mobile devices can be great tools for recording learning in these situations.
  • Collaborative Learning - shared mobile devices can encourage collaborative learning, teach higher level thinking skills and build oral communication skills, self-management skills and leadership skills.  Students working in collaborative groups are more active learners and more accountable to the group for learning.
  • Informal and Lifelong Learning (learning without the constraints of time and place) - mobile devices that are constantly with students provide a source of information and assist with learning on demand.
  • Learning and Teaching Support - no longer needs to happen in a specific time and place.  Mobile technology also frees up administrators to get out of their offices to conduct walkthroughs collect and send information and communicate.
As we discussed moving further with prototyping BYOD Device 2, we realized that probably many students already bring a second device into school even though they are not at this point connecting them to the school's wireless network.  These devices could be phones, iPods or other MP3 players, tablets, eReaders, calculators, mobile gaming devices or cameras.  Possibly they are already using these devices to help them learn, both at school and at home.  We are interested in finding out what devices they already have and what they are using them for.  The next stage in our preparations for prototyping a BYOD Device 2 will therefore be for us to research this and then consider how we can use these devices to improve learning.

Photo Credit:  City Girl by Asim Bharwani, 2012 AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works

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