Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Vision of Tech Use in the Classroom

Thanks to some great people that I am following on Twitter, I have learned many new ways to use technology in the classroom over the last two months, so much in fact, that I am overwhelmed. As I try to sort through all this great information and prepare myself to help the teachers at my school use more technology, I have been trying to find a way to organize my thoughts. I have made a few attempts at this and have re-written this blog a couple of times (and could keep revising it, but here it is!)
The thought finally came to me that I need to go back to what I learned on the first day of my Philosophy of Education class: when planning a lesson, keep in mind content, process and product. Once I started looking at organizing all the uses for technology according to this principal, things started to fall in place. Below I will attempt to explain my vision.

Authenticity: As I wrote in a previous blog , I strongly believe that we need to use technology in the classroom in an authentic manner, the same way you would use it in your life. If you need to contact someone for information, you use email, Twitter, Facebook, cellphones etc. If you want to research information you look for reliable web sites, videos, books, wikis and blogs (which give you great ideas!). If you want to present information to someone you keep your audience in mind and create a blog post, web site, slide show or video. How we pick which one to use is based on personal preference and our audience. Students should be able to do the same. Having every student work on Photo Story at the same time just to say you used technology is missing the goal of authenticity and will eventually bore students. Authenticity also helps differentiate. 

Content: What information will the student learn? With the explosion of resources on the internet, even when students research the same topic, they will find different information. Once they begin their research, different aspects of the topic will appeal to them and they may go off in different directions. Using technology to obtain content can be done by using different search engines, finding primary sources online, watching videos, or using social networking to contact experts.

Process: How will students learn the information? In addition to the above mentioned research, students will need to organize their information with graphic organizers, timelines, online notes and binders, and bookmark tags. They can use interactives to practice skills; they can share information and ideas and comment on them with each other; and they can listen to books and podcasts online. Backchanneling and blogging can be used to have real time discussions, while Skype and wikis can help connect us to other classrooms around the world. 

Product: How will students use the information? When they have all their information students can create many different products to showcase/present this information including blogs, posters, cartoons, timelines, videos, animations, digital stories, graphs, books and podcasts. What they use depends on student choice and their target audience; then they can share their product with the world.
Finally, don’t forget higher order thinking skills. Are you using technology primary on the lower end of Blooms? Or are you offering opportunities to use it more often on the higher end for comparing, evaluating, creating? As you may have noticed, many technologies can be used in multiple places. My goal is to help teachers be aware of when they can use technology, decide which one is the best fit and support them in using it. This is an ongoing, ever-changing process that we are involved in, and hopefully this post helps you organize your own uses for technology.

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