New technology. It is a simple phrase that strikes fear into the hearts of educators. There is not a time when educators have accepted technology right away. A perfect example is writing. Plato was against writing. He said, in the classic treatise “Phaedrus” :

And so it is that you, by reasons of your tender regard for the writing that is your offspring, have declared the very opposite of its true effect. If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks.

In other words writing will prevent you from learning anything. By spending your time writing symbols you are taking away from time to memorize. Memorization was accepted, much as it is today in some circles as the ultimate goal of education. Memorize a lot of stuff, recall it on demand, and you will be a success. It is , in large part, what drove the Industrial age.

After all you did not need to understand the large picture to be a factory worker during the industrial revolution. All you needed to know was how to do your job. Yes, you may have a similar job and another company, but people were very loyal to their company back then and their companies were loyal in return. However with 10-12 career changes, as an average in a modern life time that is no longer the case.

What does a technology consultant use when deciding if a a certain technology is useful for an education? We use the SAMR scale. The following is a brief video about the SAMR scale along with my explanation.

Substitution

In substitution you are using a new technology to replace an old one

A good example is using PowerPoint in a online course. It is exactly the same thing as using PowerPoint in a class. Slightly different because students can go at the ir own pace , but it follows the same design  except for an individual user

 

 

 

Augmentation

This is still in the substitution tier. It acts as a substitute for an inefficient part of learning, but it doesn’t replace an actvity

Instead of a PowerPoint you have added a quiz. This short formative assessment allows the teachers to see where the students are getting stuck and prevents them from racing ahead of their classmates.

The quizzes are graded automatically saving the teacher time correcting and storing exams. The teacher can take it the next step and post the grades or have comments that guide the students away from the wrong answers to the correct ones. It no longer takes huge swathes of time.

Modification

Modification is when you are able to redesign the task due to the technology.

In ESL the best example of this is writing and posting a class blog. Now the students are able to read each other’s work. They can also make comments and suggest corrections. Normally this would take a whole class and require a ream of paper. The students would then have to collect the papers and look at them. They would be responsible for collecting twenty-four individual sheets of paper from twenty four students . They would have to then carry the papers home and, hoping they did not lose them, read each paper individually for the comments.

Then they have to rewrite the whole composition from the start. Careful not only to correct the old mistakes but also careful to not make new mistakes.

Bt writing a blog they open up the website, read the comments and if the assignment calls for it, copy the .doc file and repost it

Because the students might have access to the grading rubric, and my always did, they can see if the paper reached the criteria necessary

Redefinition

In the redefinition tier you can now do tasks that before were not possible before.To keep with the theme of an ESL class I will discuss one project at had while teaching at Rica University.

The students were being asked to do a presentation based on the vocabulary in the chapter. One of the students came up and asked me if it was okay if the group could record it on the cell phone . I jumped at the opportunity and allowed them to do it. However I had one condition , they had to put it in a context that was different from the book.

I was pleased with the results on several levels. First we had  100 percent completion. Every student not only met the requirements but exceeded it. In terms of where they were in Blooms taxonomy they wanted to move up from creating to applying.

“Teacher” one of my students asked me timidly ” can we watch each other’s s  videos”I pondered this as it was the end of the six weeks and I had a lot to cover and not nearly enough time all the material and to show the videos.

“Let me see.” I went to the IT department  and asked them if it was possible. The wonderful person who did the tech work asked if I could set it up . When I explained to him I still look for the “any” key he said no problem and ran me through the brief steps on how to post the videos and allow students to comment on them. Twenty minutes, and several cups of coffee later I followed his instructions and before most of the students where sitting down for dinner an e-mail was waiting for them telling  the I added a new part of the assignment . They were to watch the videos and leave comments.

At first some of the students left simple message like “this is cool” or a smile emoji. However by the end of the evening other students had left fuller comments . They tried to explain why a student deserved a higher, or lower grade.They had made their first foray into the “evaluating” process.  They had also done my work for me.

I am not a very strict grader when the students are trying something new. The students did not hold the same philosophy. They held their classmates to a higher standard than I had intended. It was amazing.

To give a better reference the students demonstrated that they had higher listening , speaking and writing skills than I expected. A class which was being taught as a A2 class was really solidly in the middle of B2. It was a point I made to the director when we deciding who would be promoted and who would be held back. In the cases where some of the students struggled with pen and paper tests I used it as compelling evidence that the met the criteria for promotion.

it was from that point on I became a ceaseless advocate for using technology in the classroom.

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