In search of a flattened taxonomy for tech integration

When I PD (yes, as a verb), I look for things that will push me out of my comfort zone: new venues, new people and new ideas. I asked to present at the OSSTF Educational Technology conference this week as it was described as trying to reach teachers who were reluctant to use technology in their classrooms. I hoped to meet people who didn’t even own cellphones, and I did! I had the dreaded last spot of the day to present in.  I say ‘dreaded’ because I am deadly in the last spot.  By the time the last spot rolls around I have everyone else’s presentations in my head, I’m second guessing what I have to say and, let’s face it, I’m tired.  In this case though, I was also unsure of my audience.  How do you get reluctant people to buy in to your message?  I decided to present the idea of How to become Comfortable with being Uncomfortable.

Earlier in the day, I participated in a session run by Amanda Anderson as she talked about classroom technology that she uses to help her ELL students to accelerate their language learning.  Her fifth slide was this one:

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Amanda stopped me thinking about anything else for the rest of the week with her statement that we need to stop aiming to integrate technology in learning and instead created blended learning situations. I really like Amanda’s definition, and was even more appreciative when I saw her beautiful reference to this article as a blended learning starting point. Later the same day, presenting finally, I felt the earth shift as one of the godfathers of educational technology in Ontario rolled his eyes when I mentioned the SAMR model to my audience of reluctant technology users.  I’ve relied on both TPACK and SAMR for years now to explain that models of technology use are real but imperfect because we still haven’t achieved those elusive 21st century competencies (now to be re-branded as Global Competencies in Ontario).  I’m not married to the idea of SAMR but I refer to it as a rubric for improving the task in which technology is used.  I am particularly fond of the S in SAMR as I try to only resort to Substitution when the wifi goes down.

Why is everything in education either a ladder, a pyramid or a target?  Do we not know any other 2-D shapes? I see the complexity of the issue of integrating technology effectively into learning as more of a sphere.  The Canadian School Libraries Association said it really well in its 2014 document Leading Learning: “The learning commons promotes personalization, inquiry, and the integration of technology through the implementation of innovative curricular design and assessment.”  The 3D-ness of the sphere allows us to reiterate the process over and over again rather than to climb a ladder or hit a target or move up the levels of a pyramid.  In my job as teacher-librarian, I maintain and advocate for the use of technology for improved collaboration, communication and creativity inside the building, and into the community.  Often then I am using the C’s as another handy way to encourage the use of technology in schools.

My favourite abbreviated model though actually comes from the TV Show Silicon Valley: SOMOLO.  This is how I ended my presentation.  If we can make learning with technology more social (C for collaboration and Vygotzky would be proud); mobile (using the tech in student pockets as well as the board-approved device) and local (authentic, relevant and real in the user’s life), then we’re making huge gains.  With SOMOLO, I think our pedagogy and integration of technology will improve, perhaps to even become seamlessly blended in learning.

Woefully, I think about 100 people of the 150 had left by the time the last spot arrived, and my audience sat all the way at the back of a cavernous room.  Thank goodness for the wireless mouse. Looking back at that moment, I think the uncomfortable-ness I was experiencing, was just what I needed to push me to put my thoughts down here.

PS: In revisiting this idea with @dougpete, he gave me a whack of articles which (like any good teacher-librarian) I have curated into a Flipboard all about questioning the purpose of SAMR for your use:

View my Flipboard Magazine.

Best BITs: My brag book of student voice

Each year I apply and receive a Speak Up grant which allows a mighty group of student editors to create a magazine of student creative work…usually art and creative writing. We’ve just finished our final editing of the year and I think it looks marvelous: https://odsspaperandink.com/

ODSS Paper & Ink is featured in the Canadian Library Association’s Standards for School Library Practice visionary document called Leading Learning.

Our humble project is described as leading the way for others as an example of the “LLC [Library Learning Commons] is an active participatory learning centre modelling and celebrating collaborative knowledge building, play, innovation and creativity.”

Now I’m not the one who came up with the idea…that happened 8 years ago. But when I joined the team of staff supervisors, I suggested we save money and take it online. I would love for it to be fluid and dynamic, which it is somewhat…..but it’s not the holodeck on Star Trek, you know? I try not to interfere too much with the decisions that students make but it hasn’t yet taken on a life of it’s own. It still exists because I hound students to edit and submit and submit and edit. Meanwhile Mizuko Ito works for the MacArthur Foundation of Chicago who attract young voices like this one:

In our Book Club: “Participatory Culture in a Networked Era” Mimi Ito takes the idea of student voice to a whole new level and she argues that we need to allow students to design these online places themselves, from the ground up. We need to allow them to fail as a natural consequence for creative risk-taking…and I really get that. But is the world of education as we see it ready for that? I don’t think that it is. I’m not sure my students would want that. To some degree I think they like that I badger them and push them to step outside of their comfort zones, and that I always give them recognition when they achieve something. It’s the carrot and stick approach again…so is it really student voice? Well is it?

Looking forward to your comments.