Month: March 2017

Module 3: ICT Integration and pedagogical change and approaches – Forum post

Watson (2001) investigates ideas about the focus of the ICT in education issue, and postulates that ICT is still an outsider and “imposed” in educational settings. To what extent do you think this is accurate in both your own setting, but in general now that we have had 10 more years of ICT integration. 

My recent experience would refute Watson’s (2001) idea that ICT is an outsider, however my perspective may well be affected by my circumstances. My previous school required a high level of proficiency with integrating ICT for learning and my current role as a Technology Coach, supporting others to integrate technology for learning has provided evidence that most of my colleagues are ready and willing to integrate ICT. I am seeing significant growth across the school as systems are more seamlessly incorporated. These two roles have repositioned my perspective, but may be isolated as I have sought learning environments where integration of ICT to enhance and transform learning is a priority. 

Whether technology is “imposed” on the other hand, is an interesting question in this discourse. As Watson reflects, teachers may be (rightly) reticent to accept change where it does not tangibly improve learning outcomes – if the rhetoric is deeply flawed (Watson, 2001, p. 261), why would educators get on board? Perhaps this has created a catch 22, with educators reluctant to invest in a pedagogical shift without first seeing evidence of its worth. 

To some extent, IT systems have been imposed on teachers in most school contexts including mine; however, despite the cognitive overload that comes along with new learning, the merit of improved, more successfully integrated systems has become evident and therefore accepted by the staff over time. Over the past two years at my school, Microsoft Office 365 including OneNote Class Notebook has been recommended as a learning tool allowing for multimodal, collaborative processes for teaching and learning, alongside the scope for differentiation and formative assessment. In this space, dialogue is enabled between teachers and students and new scenarios are opened up by ICT (de Aldama and Pozo, 2016) 

Initially, there was uptake from a minority, however in contrast to Watson’s (2001) finding that cascading change has little impact, a shift has occurred amongst our staff and OneNote has now been incorporated into most department areas as evidence of the pedagogical value has filtered through the staff community. Such examples of rich learning tools where educators can see learning potential as well as measures to save time and effort are likely to influence a more successful uptake than that described by Watson. 

The Tech Coach model at my school provides a pathway for modeling initiatives and supporting learning and the development of confidence for other educators. Although there is some overwhelm with systemic change of ICT, the staffing model may help teachers to feel supported and less that technology is unreasonably imposed. 

What shifts in thinking and approach in a pedagogical sense are needed to ensure the appropriate approach to the integration of ICT into education for learning? 

de Aldama and Pozo’s (2016) discussion would indicate that teachers need to shift their beliefs about teaching, learning and knowledge acquisition before they will be prepared to invest in a significant integration of ICT. This is consistent with Bain and Weston’s assertion that teachers struggle to move beyond their own schemas (2013), and therefore may need to experience or witness integration in action to shift their beliefs and change their approach. They need to know it is likely to work and they need to be supported by school leadership to try new approaches.  

Watson outlines Morin’s seven knowledges. These reflect a more holistic view for ICT integration than just the supply of devices, with a broader pedagogical focus including soft skill development. Where ICT integration incorporates a pedagogic and societal focus, repositioning technology as a tool and not a catalyst (Watson, 2001, p.264), transformation of learning with ICT is more likely. 

At mine and many other schools, 2017 has seen the introduction of the Digital Technologies Curriculum which is rich with an emphasis on sophisticated skills, including critical, analytical, computational and design thinking; requiring creative and collaborative solutions to design problems and challenges. Although the segregation of ICT to its own learning area is questioned by Watson (2001) and Somekh (2008), this curriculum framework provides considerable scope to open discourse on transdisciplinary learning opportunities, where STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) through project based learning could tick many of the Australian Curriculum requirements both for the Digital Technologies curriculum as well as the ICT General Capabilities, alongside criteria for other subject areas. This transdisciplinary opportunity is something we are currently planning for our Year 7 cohort later in the year. 

References

ACARA. (2017). Digital Technologies Foundation to Year 10 Curriculum by rows – The Australian Curriculum v8.3. (2017). Australiancurriculum.edu.au. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/technologies/digital-technologies/curriculum/f-10?layout=1 

ACARA. (2017). Information and communication technology (ICT) capability – introduction – The Australian curriculum v8.3. Australiancurriculum.edu.au. Retrieved from http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/generalcapabilities/information-and-communication-technology-capability/introduction/introduction 

Bain, A., & Weston, M. E. (2012). The learning edge: What technology can do to educate all children. New York: Teachers College Press.  

De Aldama, C. and Pozo, J.I. (2016) How are ICT used in the classroom? A study of teachers; beliefs and uses. Electronic journal of research in educational psychology, September 2016, Vol.14(2), pp.253-286 [Peer Reviewed Journal] 

Somekh, B. (2008). Factors Affecting Teachers’ Pedagogical Adoption of ICT. International Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education. J. Voogt and G. Knezek, Springer US. 20: 449-460. 

Watson, D. (2001). Pedagogy before technology: Re-thinking the relationship between ICT and teaching.” Education and information technologies 6(4): 251-266.

Module 2: The History of ICT Integration – ICT lack of impact – Forum Post

What are the main reasons for the lack of impact given by the authors of these articles? 

  • Disparity between ICT use at home and at school (purpose and connectivity) (Somekh, 2004: Cuban, Kirkpatrick, & Peck, 2001) 
  • Access to computers and digital divide (Somekh, 2004: Cuban et al., 2001) 
  • Constraints of system requirements and teacher capacity, including risk averse and litigious social context (Somekh, 2004) 
  • Open and unregulated nature of internet vs heavily regulated school systems – “institutionalised resistance” (Somekh, 2004, p. 171) 
  • Silo orientation of subjects including ICT limiting capacity for transdisciplinary and integrated use of ICT (Somekh, 2004: Cuban et al., 2001) 
  • Lack of differentiation – varying skills and experience not considered in preparation of curriculum (Somekh, 2004). 
  • Not enough time for teachers to learn (Cuban et al., 2001) 
  • Teacher turnover/burnout (Cuban et al., 2001) 

Has education always been resistant to new technologies? Why/why not? 

Perhaps people are often resistant to change and therefore yes? Plato is quoted as concerned for the future of memory if people were to record information in writing (Shaban, 2016), so apprehension about change in education is nothing new. Many of the prescribed authors’ observations about resistance to technology integration reflect apprehension and uncertainty – fear of failure, of the unknown, of perceived error, criticism of employers or parents etc. – I suspect apprehension is not unique to contemporary education.

To what extent does this lack of impact resonate with you in your educational setting? 
Five years ago, my experience was consistent with the lack of impact the authors’ record; however my more recent experience supports more movement and development. At the risk of being one who sees “the inevitable victory of technological progress” (Cuban et al., 2001, p. 829), I think the “slow revolution” (Cuban et al., 2001) is evident overall in my school. Teachers are seeing the worth of incremental change as it is modeled by colleagues. 

I would agree with the assertion that larger scale change would require fundamental changes in “how schools are organized, how time is allocated, and how teachers are prepared.” (Cuban, Kirkpatrick, & Peck, 2001, p. 830). Inspiring models like High Tech High, as represented in the 2015 film, “Most Likely to Succeed” have invested in these (amongst other) core perspectives to bring about wholesale redefinition of schooling. 

References 

Cuban, L., Kirkpatrick, H., & Peck, C. (2001). High access and low use of technologies in high school classrooms: Explaining an apparent paradox.  American Educational Research Journal, 38(4), 813–834. 

Most Likely To Succeed. (2015). Information available at: http://www.mltsfilm.org 

Shaban, A. (2016). How to change teacher resistance in using technology into teacher resilience. [online] Academia.edu. Available at: https://www.academia.edu/31672052/HOW_TO_CHANGE_TEACHER_RESISTANCE_IN_USING_TECHNOLOGY_INTO_TEACHER_RESILIENCE.

Somekh, B. (2004) Taking the sociological imagination to school: ananalysis of the (lack of) impact of information and communication technologies on education systems, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 13:2, 163-179

Module 2: Historical Debates re: ICT in Education

What are the historical debates outlined in Wellington that you still observe in your own educational setting?

Writing in 2005, Wellington made pertinent points, noting incongruity between ICT use and learning outcomes. Some of these concerns are still prevalent and needing attention.

Preparing students for their future is still a feature of educational rhetoric. The introduction to the 2016 International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) Standards states:

It’s not about using digital tools to support outdated education strategies and models; it’s about tapping into technology’s potential to amplify human capacity for collaboration, creativity and communication.

This motivation to refocus education technology from digital tools to broader skills is aligned with Wellington’s warning about “situated cognition” (2005).  Desiring a shift from a narrow, skills-based approach, current ideologies also emphasise the need for soft skills – problem solving, creativity, collaboration, empathy, adaptivity (Crockett, 2013) – skills which may transfer to new and evolving circumstances.

Many schools and systems still focus on gaining a body of information (Wellington 2005) and testing students’ memory rather the application and transference of understanding to demonstrate higher order thinking – the “grammar of schooling” (Tyack & Cuban, 1995) that Wellington sites, where content-driven curriculum and standardised testing “straight jacket” (Wellington, 2005) teachers and schools into compliance can still inhibit transformative use of ICT.

To what extent do you think past policies such as the Digital Education Revolution and current policies such as Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or your own local policies address these debates?

Wellington (2005) and Bain and Weston (2012) cite concerns about the discontinuity between home and school and the limitations of ICT use outside of IT lessons, however in the schools I have worked in since the Digital Education Revolution, these issues have largely been addressed by the introduction of 1-to-1. Cloud-based systems and BYOD have further provided a seamless integration for technology between home and school. Further again, the capacity for independent learning online is a growing affordance – a number of my own Digital Technology students have independently taught themselves to program robots or code websites and my own kids have taught themselves to play guitar via YouTube or to speak Swedish via DuoLingo. Providers of online learning (often free of charge) and peer learning have changed the paradigm (Richardson and Mancabelli, 2011).

To what extent do you experience some of the faulty assumptions about ICT in schools/educational settings and how do these manifest?

Putting technology into the hands of every student and teacher does not revolutionise teaching and learning. The authors’ observation that money was spent on technology without evidence of a significant impact on teaching and learning (Bain and Weston, 2012; Wellington, 2005) is consistent with my experience during the rollout of 1-to-1 where largely, students researched digital encyclopedias and regurgitated information into digital notebooks. However, my subsequent schools demonstrate the benefit of hindsight. I had opportunity to work in a new school with a pedagogical focus on creative and collaborative processes, using ICT to transform learning through interactive and diversified learning experiences and my current school, whilst in some respects traditional and challenged by ingrained practice, has invested in staff roles to lead and encourage the integration of rich learning opportunities using ICT.

As alluded to by Wellington (2005), it is imperative that educational leaders continue to question purpose and practice of ICT integration – what is the value? Is there a tangible impact? Amongst the ongoing analysis, support for teachers to adapt curriculum and develop skills for effective integration is important; however as Bain and Weston (2012) contend, professional learning initiatives have often missed the mark. Perhaps of more impact is the access to and sharing of self-initiated learning through broad professional networks and ongoing coaching (Nussbaum-Beach 2012).

References

Bain, A., & Weston, M. E. (2012). Education and technology. In The learning edge: what technology can do to educate all children (pp. 1-24). New York, NY. Teachers College Press.

Crockett, L. (2013). Literacy is not enough: 21st century fluencies for the digital age. YouTube. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8DEeR1sraA

International Society for Technology in Education. (2017). Retrieved from ISTE http://www.iste.org/standards/standards.

Nussbaum-Beach, S., & Hall, L. R. (2012). Defining the connected educator. In The connected educator: Learning and leading in a digital age (pp. 3-24). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Richardson, W., & Mancabelli, R. (2011). Introduction: The power of networked learning. In Personal learning networks: Using the power of connections to transform education (pp. 1-14). Bloomington, IN: Solution Tree Press.

Tyack, D. & Cuban, L. (1995). Tinkering toward utopia. Cambridge MA and London Harvard University Press.

Wellington, J. (2005)., Has ICT come of age? Recurring debates on the role of ICT in education, 1982-2004. Research In Science & Technological Education, 23(1), 25-39.

Module 1: ICT Affordances and Use

Forum questions:

  • What are the primary justifications in these readings for the integration of ICT into educational settings?
  • According to Selwyn, social and democratic issues need to be considered in this process – what might this mean in your context?
  • Given the idea of affordances discussed in Conole and Dyke’s article, what sort of relationship do you see between the percieved affordances of ICTs and the way ICTs are actually used in your educational context?
  • In your organsiation or educational context, what does the use of ICT invite or facilitate, and what does it lends itself to and what can it can do well?
  • What justification is given in the policy document you have chosen for the use of ICT for learning?
  • To what extent are issues of social justice and democracy, or affordances of technology for learning integrated into this policy?
  • How much is “improved learning outcomes” a focus of the policy?

These readings urge movement beyond an assumption that ICT will inherently improve teaching and learning and for educators to consider the ways and means to invest in structures and strategies to promote learning outcomes. The affordances that emerged most strongly for me include:

  • Non-linear structures that allow for improved differentiation
  • Need for development of digital literacy skills, where students have the capacity to decipher quality information and sources.
  • Capacity to make use of extended opportunities to connect with a broader network, including diverse cultural opportunities, subject matter experts, multi-sensory learning materials.

As Matt Ives (2017) indicated, the implicit consumerism of device ownership and the potential for devices to be status symbols is present in my context, however from a college perspective, funds are not invested in ICT without an overarching consideration of value for learning and a meaningful trajectory for the use of programs and products. Improved learning outcomes are central to my workplace and therefore considering the learning value of all ICT initiatives is front and centre.
Leadership at my school have worked hard in recent years to implement initiatives and develop staffing structures that will provide a solid grounding for leadership and momentum, merging perceived affordances with the “state of the actual” (Selwyn, 2010, p. 70). Investing in staff roles (like mine) to guide and coach colleagues in meaningful use of technology is improving the confidence of staff to try new approaches. Guided by PYP principles and with structured collaborative planning sessions in the junior school, robust conversations are encouraged to discern the most effective means to include digital technology with a focus on valuable learning outcomes.
This does not mean there is not a way to go; in a successful school context it can be challenging to convince educators that there is a reason to shift their paradigm, so for many it is a slow burn where we are working hard to lead by example.

References
Conole, G. and M. Dyke (2004). What are the affordances of information and communication technologies? ALT-J 12(2): 113-124. http://primo.unilinc.edu.au/CSU:CSU_ALL:TN_doaj_xmloai%3Adoaj.org/article%3A1f16a6337fb1406b996a116ed45f5ffd

Ives, M. (2017) EMT503 forum post March 11, 2017.

Selwyn, N. (2010). Looking beyond learning: notes towards the critical study of educational technology. Journal of Computer Assted Learning, 26(1), 65-73.
http://primo.unilinc.edu.au/CSU:CSU_ALL:TN_wj10.1111/j.1365-2729.2009.00338.x

Module 1: Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants and 21st Century Learners

Forum questions:

To what extent has the idea that there are learners who are  “Digital Natives” or “Digital Immigrants” manifested itself in your educational context? Is this assumption obvious in any of your organisational policies or programs? Is it a useful or an assumption that hinders the use of ICT by teachers and/or students?
 What do you think is a “21st Century Learner”? Given a century is a long time, and given they will still be “21st Century Learners” in 88 years time, why do you think we like to label our students in this manner? How might these labels impact on the way we lead the implementation of ICT in our organisations?

I find Prensky’s 2001 Digital Natives/Digital Immigrant terminology and the inherent generalised assessment of teachers vs students unhelpful. Stereotypes are a dangerous position as they shut out a well-considered analysis of any situation.

Whilst I would agree that growing up using technology is a divergence from previous generations, it does not equate to adept or consistent skills or creative use. If we invest too trustingly in Prensky’s terms, we risk overlooking those students who feel overwhelmed by technology. Supporting new Year 7s as they have started their high school journey just recently reinforced this thinking for me. To assume they get it, shuts out an awareness that:

1. many have not had the exposure we may anticipate;

2. some find the context of networks and digital connections at school completely overwhelming and

3. some kids really dislike that much of their world has moved online; just because they have grown up with tech does not mean it provides their preferred learning tools.

Whilst I would agree that education is a shifting paradigm and that ongoing change and evaluation are needed, I think a more successful approach is to consider the use of technology in education in more authentic ways. Tech may allow a differentiated classroom approach where it is normal for students to work in independent and different ways to support their own learning; rather than a wholesale and complete adoption of technology in the classroom.

As for digital immigrants, the 3 schools I have worked in over the last 5 years have all been very interested in developing a “growth mindset” in students. To take on a perspective of individuals born prior to 1980 as digital immigrants could prohibit teachers’ own growth as learners with an assumption that they can’t compete or keep up and that their own evolution as a learner is defined by their generation. The language of Prensky’s article sets two generations at odds with one another and whilst urging for change, it does not promote common ground. I enjoyed the Bennett, Maton and Kervin proposition that Prensky’s position reflected a level of moral panic and sensationalist language.

However, Prensky’s position has been a catalyst for debate and conjecture and whilst his notions may be flawed – they have given rise to necessary discussion and consideration for a valid position. Discussion, evaluation and evolution of teaching and learning are critical elements for ongoing success.

I think we need to drop the term, 21st Century learners. Our digital context really requires that we are all learners, so I think more useful thinking is the (perhaps also overused) concept of life-long learning. It’s time we used language that embraces learning for all, where all participants seek to connect with diverse networks to extend ourselves and embrace the diversity of literacies that technology allows.

References

Bennett, S. Maton, K. & Kervin, L. (2008). The “digital natives” debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775-786.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the horizon, vol.9(5).

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 2: Do they really think differently? On the horizon, 2001, vol.9(6), p.1-6

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