Monday, March 13, 2017

Technology in a CI Classroom, Part 2

This is part of an ongoing series on CI and Technology and is taken from my presentation Technology in a CI Classroom: How to Go Beyond Kahoot.

Now that I have my Ed.S degree in Instructional Technology, one would think that I am implementing technology all of the time. You would be surprised to find out that I do not. It is not because I do not want to, but more because most of the technology out there focuses so much on incomprehensible input, forced output, or low levels of critical thinking. In addition, my school is a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) school, so among students, there is an incredible disparity in the technological capability of the devices which students have due to rapid change in technology. Though my school does have numerous computer labs and wireless carts for teachers to use, these on-site resources cannot keep up with the demand. This does not mean, however, that i do not want to implement technology! I wish to very much, because there is technology which can complement the CI classroom, but I feel greatly limited by my students' access to available technology. This is the time where I wish that my school were a 1:1 school.

One of the main issues in instructional technology is that teachers are implementing technology at a VERY low level of critical thinking, and I would argue that 90% of teachers are completely unaware that they are doing this. When it comes to technology, most classrooms are still very teacher-centered. Much technology usage focuses on online quizzes/homework/assessment preparation sites such as Quia, Quizizz, Kahoot, etc. Not that there is anything wrong with these websites per se, but this is very low-level usage in terms of critical thinking.

I can honestly say that this is how I implemented technology in the past before I began my degree in Instructional Technology. I had a teacher website on Weebly which housed everything students would need, had students create PowerPoints for presentations, implemented Dropbox for student homework, and was one of the first teachers at my school to have a Promethean Board. I loved using remotes during assessments, because I got instant results on how students did. In other words, technology actually made my life somewhat easier as a teacher, and I am sure that students were engaged to a degree because of the technology. One would say that I was a leader in technology implementation. At the same time though, I was not raising students' critical thinking levels any through the use of technology. 

When implementing technology in the classroom, teachers should be aware of the SAMR (Substitute, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition) model. The SAMR model is very much like Bloom's Taxonomy in that the higher the level on the model, the higher the critical thinking involved, with the highest level being the creation of new meaning. 

The lowest level on the SAMR model is Substitution, where one could actually do the same exact task without technology, but technology has made it either easier or more engaging. Most classroom technology implementation is at this level. The next level is Augmentation, which involves some degree of functional improvement but is still BASIC SUBSTITUTION. The task itself has not changed but some features of technology are incorporated. Modification is the 3rd level, where the outcome of the task is still the same, but the product has been enhanced and has changed due to technology. The highest level is Redefinition, where the new meaning has been created, and the outcome is INCONCEIVABLE without the use of technology.

Here are some examples of technology usage as viewed through the SAMR model:

Google Docs
  1. Substitution: using Google Docs to write a paper.
  2. Augmentation: using collaboration function of Google Docs for feedback.
  3. Modification: Google Docs paper is rewritten using collaborative comments.
  4. Redefinition: Modified Google Docs paper now becomes a multimedia presentation.
Reading a text
  1. Substitution: reading texts online or using a device such as Kindle, iPad.
  2. Augmentation: using online dictionaries, informational videos, etc. which have been linked to online text.
  3. Modification: annotating digital texts with comments for sharing.
  4. Redefinition: creating an interactive document or blog for public discussion, comments, and dialogue.
Delivering a presentation
  1. Substitution: using PowerPoint/Prezi/Google Slides to make a presentation.
  2. Augmentation: creating a product which uses embedded hyperlinks.
  3. Modification: creating a screencast of the presentation for online viewing.
  4. Redefinition: Nearpod presentation.
Now let me say that it is perfectly okay to implement technology at the Substitution level. The problem, however, is when we remain there and do not facilitate technology beyond this. When we stay at the Substitution level though, technology becomes more about entertainment than about true engagement and creation of new meaning. To quote something which I wrote in an earlier blog post:
When focusing on technology as either substitution or entertainment and not as a tool for creating and engaging students in higher order thinking, then the novelty of that technology will wear off very quickly. Students will want to move onto the next new piece of technology for amusement. And why should they not, since this is how the teacher has modeled technology usage for them?
So how does one reconcile the SAMR model with Comprehensible Input methodology? The two are not mutually exclusive of each other, and one can implement the two together. However, it takes knowledge and understanding of both for it to work. This has been my quest lately, as I explore various instructional technologies. I will address this in a later post. 

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