Friday, July 17, 2009

Technology for Instruction or Learning

As we create a vision for student learning, we should delve into our philosophy of technology. Does it follow from our philosophy of learning and teaching? How do we want students to engage with technology? Do we want to put them in pull out classes for typing and other basic proficiencies? Or do we want them to learn by doing, applying technology to their learning, picking up a computer when they need to do a task. As important as this target is, it is equally important to know when to hand students a pencil, or a blackboard, or face to face with each other; using all sorts of tools and arrangements to read, write and engage in projects. The plan to use technology should begin with a question of purpose:

  1. What learning outcome are we aiming at?
  2. What does the student need to know, perform.
  3. What vocabulary do they need, what processes do they need to understand?
After all, we have been using tools in learning and teaching forever. Technology is a revolutionary tool for sure but it should serve our learning objectives. As we create learning experiences for students we need to explore ways to put technology into student's hands to create, communicate and collaborate.

On another note...
If we're going to put more tech in the hands of students, we need to orient them (and ourselves) to the social norms of that environment. What are our expectations for them? What are the rules for engaging each other (and anonymous people) online? Some useful topics:
Students will benefit from 21st Century tools for learning as we balance our concerns with the advantages that the tools afford. As we understand the tools we will do a better job of integrating them into the flow of instruction. Students could begin to tell us when they need a particular tool.
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