Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Moving from engaged to empowered: learning first, technology second

As regular readers will know,  I've been reading and blogging about innovation for a couple of months now, spurred on by reading The Innovator's Mindset by George Couros.  This week I've been focusing on the transformative power of technology.  Like George, I often get irritated when I hear the words "technology is just a tool" and like George I believe that the power of technology should go way beyond engagement and enhancement - however for this to happen teachers need to be providing the opportunities for students to create, not just consume.  As George writes,
Throwing a bunch of high-tech devices into a classroom, with no shift in mindset on teaching and learning, is cosmetic.  There's no depth, no real change.
 In order for technology to be transformational (and basically this was the entire reason I started a blog called Tech Transformation back in 2009), it needs to provide opportunities that didn't exist before.  I have written a lot about the SAMR model and how technology can be used to redefine learning.  Back in 2011, when considering the "top" 2 levels of the SAMR model I wrote:
Modification involves giving a different kind of assignment - for example using multimedia - adding sound, video etc. The question to be asked is does the media enhance the message?
Redefinition - doing something that was inconceivable without technology, giving students a stage for example posting on the web so that the audience is the world and there is a feedback loop.
These 2 levels lead to TRANSFORMATION.
I think that the other thing that is important to consider here is that technology provides different opportunities for each individual.  George writes,
Technology should personalize, not standardize.
 What this means in terms of SAMR is that students should have agency in the way that they express their understanding.  Some students are very happy to speak up in class, but for those who are not, technology can provide a different medium for them as they can use videos, blogs or podcasts to express themselves.  Other students who don't feel comfortable creating things such as models with their hands, can create online and make animations, 3D models and so on.  Basically what I'm saying here is put the learning first, and then decide what technology can be used to make this happen, or as George writes, "If educators can't answer "Why?" then they will never get to the "How?" and "What?".

Photo Credit: flickingerbrad Flickr via Compfight cc

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