Perspectives make all the difference in life, and this is also true when it comes to using technology for teaching and learning. A simple change in perspective can cause a radical change in outlook. See it in action below!
It is not enough to simply use technology into our classrooms, we need to teach with technology. The difference between "using" and "teaching" is important, and will make the difference between whether tech is an expensive version of what we have had for years, or an empowering tool to reactivate our students learning. The difference comes down to one thing - no pedagogy or pedagogy. Having an easy-to-apply set of digital-age pedagogies in place enables us to see our use of technology in the classroom in a whole new way. The fun, short video below illustrates the power of seeing things in a different way. Enjoy!
Facebook turned 14 on February 4, 2018. And the controversies continue unabated. But there’s one aspect of Facebook that should not be lost in all the noise: the extraordinary change it has brought about in how we connect, communicate, consume and share content – in the classroom, as well as in other spaces.
Putting the words “Facebook” and “learning” together may seem like an oxymoron. But my research has delved into the role Facebook has played in shaping how the new generation consumes and shares content. Understanding this is pivotal to understanding how we should be using technology to teach in the digital age. Quite simply, Facebook has changed the way that children learn.
How students learn
That’s what I’ve discovered through my research, which used a cyber-ethnography approach to try and determine how students are learning in our modern digital age. This involved essentially “living” with students while they connected, communicated, and learned in a Facebook space.
I spent an entire semester watching and interacting with students at the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa as they used a Facebook page as their primary learning portal. The students were given admin access to the space. This meant they could determine how the space was used: who had access to it, how it was designed, what was posted on the page, and even the level of anonymity of their posts.
This provided me with an opportunity to watch the students learn, unfettered from traditional learning constraints. However, it would take a while for the students to fully explore their learning within this new space. Initially the students would often attempt to defer to me and my guidance. Only after I repeatedly refused to control their learning experience did they begin to behave in a self-oraganising way and allow me to observe their “natural” learning patterns.
The research revealed that Facebook provided students with a series of learning affordances. Affordances are “can do” oppportunies, some intentional and others unintentional, that technology spaces provide. In this instance the research revealed that the affordances at play were accessibility, connection, communication, control and construction. These affordances provide valuable insights into how students learn in digital spaces.
Once I understood this, I could turn my attention to the key need: developing ways of teaching, called pedagogies, that are appropriate for the digital age. Currently the focus on technology – the what, has distracted us from pedagogy: the how. Without understanding how best to apply these new technologies’ affordances, educators will not be able to effectively impact teaching in the modern classroom.
However, providing educators with a list of “how tos” isn’t much use without a system that makes the list easy to implement. As Dan Schwartz, dean of Stanford’s Graduate School of Education, says:
Activating the classroom
That’s where the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) model comes in. I developed this model in a bid to create a taxonomy of teaching and learning for 21st century classrooms. A taxonomy is an ordered arrangement of items. One of the most famous of these is Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking. The ACT model attempts to provide a taxonomy of digital-age teaching approaches.
The ACT model consists of five digital-age pedagogies that seek to maximise the affordances of technology, modern students’ approaches to learning and the development of key 21st century skills such as creativity, problem solving, curiosity, critical thinking, etc.
The focus is a shift from passive ways of teaching (consumption) to active approaches (curation, conversation, correction, creation and chaos). This aligns with research that shows children are spending more than half their online time actively engaging: creating content, getting involved in “interactive consumption” and communicating.
Ignoring the tectonic shifts taking place in our classrooms is not the solution. Simply dropping technology into our classrooms is not the solution. Simply training teachers to use computers is not the solution. As British author and education expert Sir Ken Robinson has said, we need a paradigm shift, but it’s more than that - we need a pedagogy shift.
The young teen, Facebook, has changed how we connect and learn. But, as the OECD pointed out in its global study about educational technology: “If we want students to become smarter than a smartphone, we need to think harder about the pedagogies we are using to teach them. Technology can amplify great teaching but great technology cannot replace poor teaching.”
Last year I was privileged to speak to over 20,000 delegates from around the world at EdmodoCon 2016. I was somewhat concerned as my presentation was scheduled near the end of the day - a slot any teacher knows is the "graveyard session". A combo of lunch, content fatigue and anticipation of the end conspire together to cause low levels of attention and possibly even sleep.
However, the silver lining on this somnolent cloud was that I had been able to listen to all the amazing talks before mine. Teacher after teacher from schools all around the world presented the incredible things they were doing with technology in their classroom. While this in itself would be reward, it was not just this alone that was the silver lining. I was able to see something astounding about how these world-leading teachers (and I mean this literally - some having won world top-teacher awards) were using technology. Unknowingly, they were applying one or more of the ACT pedagogies in their classroom. I was blown away by seeing this, and so standing up last, I was able to not only share the power of the ACT pedagogies to transform how we teach with tech, but also highlight how each and everyone of these amazing teachers was already doing it. However, now the benefit was they understood the pedagogy that lies beneath their success - and understanding this makes it easier to replicate these amazing success stories. In addition, they were exposed to other digital age pedagogies that can also be used with equal success.
Below is a video of the EdmodoCon 2016 presentation. It provides a brief overview of the issues we are facing in our modern classroom and how we can implement 5 digital-age pedagogies to revolutionize how we are teaching.
“Speak your mind” and “post your mind” are not the same thing. A study that investigated how messages containing different emotions spread across social networks found that “anger is more influential than other emotions like joy, which indicates that angry tweets can spread quickly and broadly in the network”.
So why do such posts persist? My research suggests that the answer lies with three issues: the accessibility of technology, the spaces it provides for communication that isn’t face to face, and how this is skewing our ideas of connection.
But all is not lost: there are some basic rules you can apply that make sure you stay out of trouble and that you get the most out of social media.
The Facebook factor
With 1.8 billion users, Facebook has had a huge impact on how people connect, communicate and consume content. It was recently blamed for influencing the outcome of the US elections by facilitating the spread of fake news.
Facebook wasn’t designed to spread fake news – but this is an unintentional consequence of the environment. Understanding such consequences – what are known as “affordances” – is key to helping us better leverage technology for learning and to mitigate its risks.
In my research I explored the affordances of Facebook on student interaction and learning. An affordance is a “can do” opportunity of something, whether intentionally designed or unintentionally possible.
From this I developed the Actant-Activity Affordance model. It identifies five key affordances that interact in a competing set of tensions in online spaces: accessibility, communication, connection, control and construction.
Accessibility, communication and connection are especially relevant when it comes to understanding why so many people vent their spleen on social media.
Accessibility, in my model, is the ability to access online spaces through multiple devices, in multiple places, at any time. This often results in “spur-of-the-moment” posts.
In the pre-technology era a person wanting to vent their anger would have to find the local newspaper’s address, write the letter, and then post it. This cooling down gap does not exist with technology.
New technologies with their ubiquitous access have changed us, largely without us realising it, from passive content consumers to active content producers. Many people have readily assimilated the benefits of permanent access to a publishing platform but haven’t been as quick to realise the responsibilities that come with our new role as content publishers.
Communication: no warm bodies
Technology now offers innumerable opportunities to both express ourselves and get exposure for our opinions. However, there are important differences between fireside chats and online posts.
Social presence theory teaches that “text based messages deprive computer mediated communication users of the sense that other warm bodies are jointly involved in the interaction”. Physical presence often tempers what people say, while the existence of a spatial gap between the poster and their online audience emboldens people to express themselves.
It’s natural to want to talk about how we feel. While some people may talk to friends, others resort to writing a private journal. However, the danger comes when online channels are falsely believed to be the “modern equivalent of writing a journal”.
Online channels are a convenient space for expression. But they come with another aspect of the communication affordance: exposure. A journal is private and can be discarded. Online posts are both permanent and public. Posting online is not the modern equivalent of writing a journal. It’s the modern equivalent of writing a letter to the editor.
Conflating the real world and online
The connection affordance, described in my model, relates to the opportunities that technology affords to develop connections between members of online spaces. In my experiment, students were given administrator status on a Facebook page. An unintentional affordance of this was that they could mask their identity when posting, which emboldened some to become more positively engaged in online class discussions.
However, a more subtle danger of connecting online, is the avatar syndrome; the conflation of real and online personas. People assume their online identities to a greater or lesser extent. This can be consciously, as in the case of role playing games, or subconsciously through our choice of profile pictures, photos and the content we choose to share about ourselves in social media spaces.
This avatar syndrome inevitably results in people making comments and sharing content that can have serious real world consequences.
How to stay out of the news and jail
Technology provides exciting opportunities to enhance how we teach and learn. In the coming years it’ll be important to keep educating school kids about the dangers of these new technologies. Here are some simple guidelines to remember when using social media, whatever your age.
Before you post it online, use the SPACE to THINK approach.
SPACE – Take these steps:
THINK – Ask yourself these questions:
Being a little more thoughtful and circumspect about your social media presence will improve the experience for everyone. Think like a publisher – because in this brave new world, that’s exactly what we’ve all become.
As the summer holidays draw near in many parts of the world, parents shouldn’t be surprised if kids choose to fill their days with technology. After all, teens and tweens are now spending more hours on their devices – iPads, phones and computers – than they are asleep.
In the same way that some food is healthy and some has no nutritional benefits, some apps are low in mental fibre. Based on my own research into how students learn with technology, here’s a guide to getting rid of “junk” apps and ensuring your tweens and teens develop healthy tech habits both in term time and during the school holidays.
From passive to active
The key lies in shifting kids from using apps that make them passive content consumers to those where they are active content producers. Encouraging the use of activating apps can help children to develop a wide range of 21st century skills like collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and problem solving.
Before I look at apps that will actively engage kids during school holidays, here are the “apps” you should immediately delete from their lives.
Once these “apps” are deleted, here’s a selection of apps that will not only engage your kids, but help them develop important skills. I’ve selected a few iOS, Android, and Web-based apps (accessible through a browser on any device). The full list is available here. I’ve grouped these according to the skills they will develop.
Curation: Curation apps help kids to develop key skills such as reading, categorising and organising.
Conversation: There’s a shift from learning through content consumption to learning through conversation around content in online spaces. Conversation-based apps provide opportunities to debate, discuss and enrich relationships.
Correction: Research shows that one of the most effective ways to learn is through mistakes. Technology allows us to easily experiment, make mistakes and learn through correction.
Creation: Creating content develops key skills such as logic, creative thinking and problem solving.
Chaos: Learning to make sense of too much information, missing information, and conflicting information is a skill children increasingly need to develop in our content-excessive world.
No matter which apps your kids choose, it’s important to keep track of their use. Research suggests that screen time should be limited, whether young users are consuming “junk” apps or learning while they swipe. OurPact is a great tool to automate this process. It allows parents to set usage schedules or turn off a device at any time.
Myth 2 – We need to use technology to make our teaching more efficient
We continue our myth series that explores dangerous education technology myths. You can read Myth 1 here. Each of these myths are commonly held beliefs that have huge implications on how we approach teaching with technology.
Like all myths, this myth also seems, on face value, to be both true and innocuous. However, this is exactly why the myth is so dangerous.
I often come across teachers and school management who extol the benefits of their edtech tools using words like - “Time is freed up”, “convenience”, “ease of handling”, “efficient way of collecting and storing information” and “immediate access”.
In fact, these are the same benefits you will find touted by LMS vendors. Take a look at the following list of features of the popular LMS, Blackboard. The vast majority of the features are around management and efficiencies.
These "features" point to an underlying perspective that many teachers and software vendors have about the goal of technology in the classroom - improving efficiency. In fact this same perspective also pervades students' perceptions. A research project just completed by one of my students, found that 92% of students listed technology providing “improved access to information” as a key reason for using it for learning.
And so it is no surprise that we readily believe the statement - We need to use technology to make our teaching more efficient. After all, who doesn't want to save time and make things more efficient?
Ditching Industrial Era Objectives
Efficiencies are great for business and industry, but is this what we are seeking when it comes to education? British educationist and author Sir Ken Robinson has famously called on schools to abandon the efficiency-driven, industrial paradigm and move to a new approach to education.
Increasingly we are seeing teachers advocating a new era in education that celebrates diversity, opportunities and innovation. However, most of us are simply using technology to reinforce the old industrial approaches rather than revolutionising the classroom.
Pursuing efficiencies to get students through more content, faster and with less effort, is the wrong objective. Our focus should be on effective rather than efficient teaching. Technology is not just about computerising existing processes – it is about rethinking ways to teach and learn.
The Danger of the Myth
By pursuing efficiency objectives we simply reinforce our old, outdated, industrial approaches to teaching. We are simply attempting to speed up and automate these old processes. This dangerous agenda is pushed by many vendors because it makes for a good sell. "We can make your job easier", "We can save you time", etc. However, education is more than this. It needs us to reinvent, redesign, and reimagine how we are teaching the modern generation.
Technology brings with it many exciting opportunities. The most successful modern businesses, who are driven by efficiency agendas, have also realised this. They've realised the need to move beyond simple efficiencies to reinventing how they do business. This has given rise to innovative businesses like Uber who have disrupted the transport industry, Twitter who have disrupted the news industry, and Whatsapp who have disrupted the communication industry.
It is only when we begin to let go of our outdated, industrial paradigms and see technology, not simply as a tool for improving efficiencies, but as a tool to open up new way of teaching and learning, that we will truly begin to realise the benefits of technology in the classroom. It's then that we will start to see the Uber Classrooms appear - and that will be very exciting.
A myth, according to the online dictionary is "a widely held but false belief or idea". Busting myths was made popular by the TV show "Myth Busters". However, myths continue to circulate and are readily accepted and believed, and we as teachers are not exempt.
In this EdTech Myth Busting series I will share with you some commonly believed myths that are not only false, but can, and have resulted in some costly failures when it comes to education technology.
Myth 1 – Training teachers how to use technology will result in better teaching
Do you believe this?
It seems quite reasonable, and I've heard it said many times that if we train teachers to use technology the result will be better teaching.
So, what's wrong with this belief?
It lies in the phrase "training teachers how to use technology". Training a teacher how to use technology is not the same as training a teacher how to teach with technology. At first glance, this may seem like a trivial difference, but it's a golf swing difference - where a seemingly small error on tee-off results in missing the green by far and having to search for your lost ball in a pond!
Training a teacher to use an iPad, or to use Google Docs, or to use a Smartboard does not mean they know how to teach with this technology. I could be trained how to use all the controls in a plane, but that does not mean I could fly the plane.
And herein lies the danger. All too often schools send teachers on courses that train them how to use technology, and assume this will result in effective teaching with technology. Believing this myth is part of the reason why we are seeing so many failed attempts at implementing technology in the classroom.
EdTech Success Formula
It is not simply knowing how to use technology that is important, in fact it is not even knowing how to teach with technology that we need - it is knowing how to teach effectively with technology.
If teachers are not shown how to apply an appropriate digital-age pedagogy to their teaching how can we expect our results to be anything better than hit-and-miss.
Great Teacher + Great Technology + Pedagogy = Great Teaching
Don't believe the myth that simply being trained to use technology will result in effective teaching with technology. We need our teachers to be trained in the use of a guiding pedagogy that will show them how to teach effectively with technology!
That's one myth busted. Look out for the next Edtech myth...and don't forget to share this with others, because it's up to us to stop the spread of this dangerous myth!
Learn how to teach using the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach - a pedagogy for the digital age. Get the book now and transform your classroom! What teachers are saying -
“genius”, “brilliant”, “inspiring”, “motivated”, “a first”, “doable”, “fascinating”, “thanks to infinity”, “mind shift of epic proportions”, “a renaissance for me”, “I have been doing it all wrong!”, “inspired to use technology”, “buzz of the school”, “absolutely blown away”
Bloodletting is an ancient practice where doctors would cut people to let blood out of them in the hope that this would lead to some type of cure. We may now laugh at this archaic treatment, but for centuries it was the approach that "modern" doctors thought worked. Imagine having a sore throat and the doctor says, "Don't worry, I will fix you in no time," as he reaches for the scalpel or a bowl of leaches! This is exactly what happened to George Washington...yes, THE George Washington, America's first president. On December 13, 1799 George woke up with a sore throat and was treated with bloodletting where doctors drained an estimated 5-7 pints (3-4 litres) of blood in less that 16 hours. Unsurprisingly he died a few days later!
What does this crazy approach to health care have to do with how you are teaching?
Well, according to Nobel laureate and Stanford professor Carl Wieman, how we teach today is the educational equivalent of this archaic, painful, and useless treatment. In an interview with NPR, Wieman discusses how the approach we are currently using for teaching is not only ineffective, it is detrimental to learning.
"You give people lectures, and [some students] go away and learn the stuff. But it wasn't that they learned it from lecture — they learned it from homework, from assignments. When we measure how little people learn from an actual lecture, it's just really small." (Carl Wieman)
Only 10% remember what is taught
For years Carl Wieman has been unsatisfied with the traditional "talk-and-chalk" or "sage-on-the-stage" approach, and has experimented with using active learning in his classroom. Prof. Wieman would give a lecture then a few minutes later he would test the students knowledge with a multiple choice test. The result?
Most of the time "only 10 percent would actually remember the answer. A lot of them are asleep, or lost, and I don't know whether they're getting anything out of it. If I'm standing up there talking at them, I have no clue what they're absorbing and not absorbing."
Active learning - The Solution
Seeing such poor results, Prof. Wieman dumped this ineffective, "bloodletting" and switched to using active learning approaches in his classroom. His students are now often found in small groups actively discussing the course content while he walks around the classroom helping guide their learning.
Now that his students are actively involved in the learning process, as opposed to being passive consumers, not only are they more engaged, but he is better able to see what they understand and what is causing them problems.
"I'm doing my best to understand what's going on in every one of those students' minds and challenge them and monitor how they're learning, If I'm just lecturing the whole time, what a terrible waste that would be. Half the material would be over their head, and half the material would be completely trivial to them." (Carl Wieman)
Research proven results
"I know you can double how much a student learns depending on what method the instructor is using." (Carl Wieman)
Listen to the interview with Cal Wieman below.
Why is everyone not using Active Learning?
With such compelling evidence, it seems strange that everyone is not using active learning techniques in their classrooms. Why is this?
Well, beyond the obvious, that some teachers might not want to change - because change is uncomfortable and invariably requires effort, there is another important reason. Dan Schwartz, who is the dean of Stanford's Graduate School of Education puts the problem of poor adoption of this effective approach down to a "mountain of goo".
"The literature on how to do this stuff is a giant mountain of goo...I can tell people they need to teach better. But if I don't give them things that are easy for them to implement, they won't do it." (Dan Schwartz)
From Goo to Good
There is no doubt that the research points to the fact that as teachers we should be using active learning approaches in our classrooms. Add to this the exciting opportunities that technology brings, and we should be seeing huge innovations in how we teach. The era of bloodletting is far behind us, yet somehow while medicine has advanced it seems in many ways teaching has not. However, without an "easy way...to implement" this as Dan Schwartz points out, moving from our old approach to a new more effective approach is going to be difficult for all but the very brave.
The Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach is an "easy way...to implement" active learning approaches with technology in the classroom. This research-backed approach focuses on pedagogy before technology and guides teachers in how to effectively use technology in the classroom in a new and innovative ways. Rather than simply tell teachers that active learning is powerful, or tell teachers that we should be using technology in new ways, the ACT approach SHOWS teachers how they can do this.
Based on 5 layers of increasing activity the ACT model is a digital pedagogy for the modern age that is transforming how schools are teaching around the world. To find out more about this amazing approach watch the video below or read more here.
Article source: NPR
We live in a world of massive video content - almost 5,000,000,000 videos are watched every single day, on YouTube alone, amounting to 900 million hours per month - that's 102,739 years worth of video/month. It's crazy! It's no wonder that we are having binge watching issues that we've talked about before. Video feeds our consumption addiction, and sadly is often used as the primary way in which we engage our students in the classroom. However, if video is such an enticing medium, can't we use it more effectively?
The first step is to understand your approach to teaching with technology. The ETA (Education Technology Assessment) model helps you identify the type of teaching you are engaged in when it comes to using technology in the classroom. There are two dimensions. The first is the content that can either be based around consumption or production, and the second is the learning approach which is either passive or active.
Why are we getting it wrong?
It's not the teacher nor the technology that is to blame when it comes to being effective in the classroom. All too often I come across reports saying how technology is bad for teaching and learning. This is akin to saying that a knife is bad for cooking because a chef cut his finger. It's all about technique...not just the tools. Even the most enthusiastic amateur chef with the best equipment still needs a recipe to produce great food. So too for teachers with technology. The recipe we need is a digital pedagogy. The problem is that until recently there was no digital pedagogy, quite simply because we just didn't understand how our modern generation learns with technology.
The @CTIVATED Classroom approach, the result of years of research, is a first of it's kind digital recipe (pedagogy) that is designed to guide teachers to be more effective with using technology in the classroom. The pedagogy shows teachers how they can shift their teaching from the less ineffective quadrants of the ETA model (PC/AC/PP) to the highly effective active-producer (AP) quadrant by teaching using the various layers from curation up to the higher layers of creation and chaos.
Harnessing our 900 million hour addiction
So, we have an addiction for video content, but passively consuming content is not the most effective way to learn. So rather than consuming video content how about engaging your students in actively producing video content. There are so many ways this can be done (and I cover many of these in our online course). Here's an example of two videos created by students that show how powerful this pedagogy can be.
Not only are students motivated as they become creative, but they have to carefully think through their content before creating the script. Additionally, the movie is an artefact that remains as a testimony to the students learning and also is a great tool for further conversation and even formative assessment. What a way to develop the "World's Best Students"!
The World's Best Teacher
One of the best parts about the @CTIVATED Classroom approach is that it does not only apply to your students. We are all students after all. And so there is no reason why you can't also be actively creating videos rather than simply consuming them. Not only can you have the "World's Best Students" you can become the "World's Best Teacher". Watch this video for some real inspiration of what is possible. #ENJOY being an @CTIVIST!
Dr. Craig Blewett is the author and founder of the Activated Classroom Teaching (ACT) approach. He helps schools and universities around the world towards the effective use of educational technology.
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