Sunday, March 01, 2015

It's How You Use Technology That Matters

Again and again we hear the mantra, It's not the fact that technology alone doesn't matter, but instead what counts is how you employ technology for worthy learning.

Today, George Couros made me think about that more with his post, What Do You Want Leaders To Do With Technology. He clearly demonstrated ways that we may think beyond the tool or medium to the leadership behavior and result the tool deepens and/or makes possible.

Courus shares Bill Ferriter's post, What Do You Really Want Kids to Do With Technology,  and the images below.

Both Couros and Ferriter are leaders of tech integration and education change. The lists they offer above can be used in any context to analyze and determine tech use for classrooms and systems.

As I look at these lists, I want to match them with Michael Fullan's 6 C's for deep and meaningful learning and the work I do with students every day. So far, this analysis remains a first cut, but as I think about depth and meaningful curriculum for the year(s) ahead, I will develop this list more.

Citizenship, Communication, Collaboration, and Character
Building Relationships and Streamlining Communication
This chart demonstrates Fullan's 6  C's
When communication is done well, important factual information is transferred in ready, easy-to-access, consistent mediums that members of the organization read and contribute to regularly.

Mediums such as Twitter, blogs, Google docs, and email offer this kind of streamlined, transparent communication which saves time and creates community since everyone is "in the know" with regard to organizational highlights, events, and information.

In addition, these tools help us to make connections and communicate with individuals outside of our organizations which broadens and deepens our ideas and work.

With regard to young students, we are teaching those students how to build relationships and collaborate with online share and use as well as how to communicate effectively online and offline. Creating a safe, but accessible, document for students and families' daily contribution and access is one way to begin to teach this process. Google docs is a perfect way to do this. There are other mediums out there such as Kidblog, Edmodo, Google Classroom, and Edmettle which serve this purpose too. These mediums will continue to change so it's good to revisit what you use each year to make sure you're giving students experience with the best communication vehicles for their age and future.

Also, students, in conjunction with their teachers, can use Google Hangouts, Skype, email and more to make connections with other students and experts outside of the school setting. This helps young students to understand the amazing connectivity possible today as well as the fact that we are a global community.

Modeling the use of email and Twitter in class serves to introduce students under 13 to the way mediums like this are used as well as to share information to inform their own study.

Writing and Reflection
An important part of all learning and leading is reflection. Students should learn to use technology from an early age as a reflection tool. How can they do this?  First, they need to acknowledge and value their own questions. They may regularly write about their own questions on a personal or public blog.

Next they need to understand how to use the Internet to inform, deepen, and widen their quests. For example, I'm always reading blogs to find information that will deepen and improve my work with students. Today when I read Couros' blog post, I knew the information shared would help me to develop the way I design curriculum and use technology to support student learning. Couros' and Ferriter's posts provide a great framework for further reflection, reflection targeted on my young learners.

How do we teach students to use technology to deepen their reflection and writing skills? Currently our students use Google docs and the Internet often in this regard, but I want to build the practice with greater detail, intent, and time.

Creativity and Imagination
Multimedia Presentation
There are many tools to relay information on a deeper and more personal level. When we blend these tools together with a focus on purpose, voice, and audience, students and educators alike can communicate in ways that elicit deep and meaningful response, the kind of response that leads to the actions Ferriter and Couros share above: "raise awareness, change minds, make a difference, tell and create powerful stories, change culture, drive change, and lead."

Young students should have the opportunity to research, plan, create, share, and respond to multimedia presentations each year with more and more sophistication as they move up the grades. This prepares students well for the kinds of communication work they will do in the future.

How will technology develop students' abilities for invention, design, and problem solving related to science, technology, engineering, art, and math? I am thinking about this now as I develop the deeper end of our science study this year. I will add more to this in weeks to come.

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Skill Building and Practice
In elementary school children use technology to develop skill in a many content areas. Which programs truly boost skill and which do not needs to be analyzed, discussed, and regarded carefully as we choreograph the learning day.  A"just right" amount of repetition and skill building is required. Too much makes learning and minds dull and too little leaves skills undeveloped.

Model Making
There are many technology tools available to make 2-D and 3-D models that develop learning in positive ways. This area also requires discussion and development with regard to strong learning programs for young children. Children should become facile at making models that represent their research, understanding, and ideas. We need to find the best tools and programs for this work.

Data Analysis and Organization
Data is more and more becoming a part of our regular decision making and creation process in schools. We use multiple data points to assess, reflect on, and make decisions with respect to student learning and needs. In many ways, this data has been a powerful tool for making good decisions with regard to student response and service.

Technology allows us to use, manipulate, and share this data in ways that matter. Also, technology provides us with an ability to organize information in ways that support analysis and good work. Recently, a start-up I contributed to last year, UClass, was bought because they offer systems the ability to readily choose, match, and analyze the intersection of curriculum choice and students' successful learning. This kind of tool will help us in the future to make good choices with regard to the lessons, learning experiences, materials, and resources we use to teach children well.

Young students can also use technology to organize, interpret, analyze, and share data points in ways that inform their research, communication, creativity, problem solving, and reflection. We need to look at the ways we use technology to do this and match this with our current system-wide curriculum and standards.

I will look back to this post as I plan for the year ahead to make sure that I am employing technology in ways that truly build and develop students who have the skills and mindsets that make them ready for the world they will lead in the future.

Couros opened new doors for me today via his post. I have a lot of work to do to think deeply about the points above and the details in their study as I plan next year's curriculum map, resources, tools, and delivery. I look forward to the investigation, and in the meantime, if you have thoughts to share in this regard, please do.