Saturday, May 10, 2008

Teaching good instruction AND the technology tool

A recent post from coolcatteacher ("Get Past Teaching Apps") got me thinking about how to approach technology "instruction," but it's honestly been something that I've been thinking about for awhile. Her post is about what she does with kids in the classroom, but with our upcoming summer technology workshops, I am wondering if we should shift our focus for teachers.
from the 1980s ACOT report
Seems like we offer a lot of workshops on tools and not as much on instruction. And I think a lot of that is driven by our participants. I hear a lot of teachers say to me, "Wow, I really need to take a class on Powerpoint." Based on this graphic table from Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow report from the 1980's, I think people assume that this is the progression. Not sure I agree, though.

What I'm considering is that "traditional" classroom practice piece. How do we move teachers from adaptation to appropriation? And what do we do when faced with the barrage of new tools? Should we, as professional developers, try a two-pronged approach where we simultaneously explore moving away from traditional classroom practice and using technology tools? Should we follow Vicki Davis's example and look at various student classroom tasks instead of focusing on a tool? Will that allow teachers to move more seamlessly in their own practice?

With all the talk of transforming education rather than reforming education, maybe we should use technology workshops as a way to look at "new" methods of instruction based on brain & learning research. A great quotation from Wesley Fryer's article called "Intelligently Promoting Technology Integration":
Technology integration should not mean simply fancy PowerPoints and lots of video clips shown to students in the classroom. Those uses of technology can be more engaging and beneficial than some alternatives, but we shouldn't stop at merely digitizing the transmission-based education experience for our students. Learners need to remix their learning and use technologies to both explore and represent their understandings of complex ideas. Additionally, learners need to regularly collaborate with others outside the four walls of their traditional classroom as well as within them.

I hope that our workshop can get teachers to move beyond just digitizing a stand-and-deliver model. But do we need to start there to get them integrating?