Monday, September 29, 2014

Start with the 'WHY?' - Should Technology drive the curriculum or vice versa?

Day 28 of the 30 Day +TeachThought blogging challenge

Which should drive our learning and teaching - the curriculum or all the amazing new technology we now have within our grasp?  I have very strong views on this...

Technology is there to support and enhance learning and teaching and our curriculum.  If we are using tools merely because they are the latest 'cool tool' but they do little to enhance and improve learning and teaching then, in my opinion, they are not an effective addition and will have little impact.


Be clear about why you are using a particular tool and why it will change the teaching and learning.  Your students should also be clear about this when they are choosing tools for their learning.  If they or we are not able to clearly articulate our thinking and state the WHY, then it's not the tool to be using.  If it doesn't improve achievement and learning, choose something that will.  Sometimes it can be that 'simple' - and that complicated!

Technology should enhance and improve what we do.  It should never be an add on or addition.


We read and hear a great deal about our students being 'Digital Natives' and that we are the 'Digital Immigrants, terms developed by Marc Prensky.  We need to be very careful about these assumptions. During my research, I wrote a literature review on this subject.  If we make assumptions that all our students are confident users of technology and therefore know much more than us then we are, in my opinion, treading on very shaky ground.  Yes, our students are skilled in the use of tools, but try getting them to explain their choice of tool for learning and this is where it becomes interesting.  Many can't, unless we give them the skills to be able to relate the tools to their learning.  We can also then let then teach us the technical skills we may be lacking.  Shared and reciprocal learning is powerful learning.


The SAMR model gives us a way to change our thinking and use of technology in a purposeful way.  If we are just swapping writing in a book for using a Word document to publish then we, and our students, are missing out.  However, everyone needs to start somewhere and many teachers are not confident with using technology in their teaching and learning.  These are the teachers who need our support and encouragement.  Sometimes being told that they 'must use' technology without being shown the 'how' and 'why' are where we get it very wrong.  This is where professional learning and communities of practice are so important if we want to make sustainable changes.  We all have to start somewhere.  Don't be afraid to let the students do the teaching too!

Technology integration is incredibly important in order for our students to participate in the world.  Maybe it's also time to stop talking about preparing our students for 21st Century learning and life - we've been in this century now for 14 years.  Maybe it's time to move from these phrases and focus on the teaching and learning.  Tools on their own may not necessarily change learning and achievement but tools used to enhance learning and teaching can, if the WHY is clear.  We are doing our students a disservice if we don't do this.
How to use the SAMR model for classroom tasks.

Check out the SAMR model explained by students!


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