Failure!

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Photo credit: Heinzmarketing
Since I first started the Coetail course, all the way back in February, I think it fair to say that I have been heavily influenced and affected by the different ideas and philosophies that I have been exposed to. As both an educator and parent, my personal outlook on teaching and learning has undoubtedly changed. I look back at the way I used to be and wonder how I could have been so blind to so many of the ideas that I have had over the last eleven months. There is no doubt in my mind that this state of change has come about thanks to three game-changers:

  1. The growth and development of my understanding when it comes to all things technological. This would also include my own understanding of how I can better plan and use technology to further develop the learning in my classroom. This has largely been achieved through my participation of this course.
  2. The second is through the growing number of discussions that I have had with colleagues at my school. These are people who also feel the same urge that I have to push/improve the integration of technology within our school’s learning environment.
  3. The Third area has been the school’s willingness to heavily upgrade the digital infrastructure of the school. This has included a large investment in the number laptops and tablets as well as a significant improvement in the WiFi and broadband connections.

As a result of these significant changes (some might say monumental changes) my personal feelings and attitude has gradually been transformed – I feel more confident in my own abilities: I feel angry and frustrated with myself and others for not realising my potential: I feel more able to enthuse and motivate the students I teach in a less restrictive way: I feel worried and nervous about the future – I am afraid that these feelings will be lost when I finish this course.

These are but a few of the many feelings I have about ‘Technology Integration’ within teaching and learning.

However…

I wanted to include these mainly positive feelings because this week was a bad week for me and the application of ‘Technology Integration’.

This week I encouraged, enabled and made technology accessible to my students so that they could more effectively achieve their learning goals. Were the results everything I hoped they would be? The answer to this question has to be a resounding ‘No’!

Where did it go wrong?

The use of blendspace to create our own word banks and setting descriptions didn’t really work; the reason being that the videos selected were confusing to the children – they found it difficult to separate the characters from the setting.

In a second lesson with a digital focus, the creation of historical news reports on the Ancient Egyptian Farming cycle using 2ink’s Green Screen iPad App meant that the children spent too much time on – learning to use the application – and not enough time on presentation and content.

Overall, this week has been a sobering lesson in the problems that can be experienced when you try to change lessons to have focus that is supported by a digital format.

If I was to further break the lessons down , I would actually say that I was substituting an independent blendspace focus (using the SAMR framework) for a more structured whole class video session. On reflection, I think that the way forward would be to change the videos for more relevant videos; and also to have the whole class watch all the videos together (with an option for those children who still needed time to review the videos being given the opportunity to use an iPad or laptop to review the videos after everyone has watched each video in turn).

With the second lesson it is more about the children getting used to a new piece of software and being given the time to experiment with this software. The App is tricky to use at first and it takes time to understand how to create effective videos using a Green Screen. I still think that it should be used but I would give the children more time to play with the Green Screen technology before using it to present their historical news reports.

Wow! What a week!

So that’s it! I have had enough…

No clearly that isn’t the case! However, it has made me realise that although technology has it’s place, it is sometimes the case that more traditional methods are just as pertinent. To me, this means that we have to be very careful when integrating technology in our lessons, units and curriculums. It is the learner that we need to be concerned with. We need to make sure they are provided with the best learning route to achieve their individual learning goals.

Ahem…

However, I have also learned this week that if you do persevere and give the children time to get used to a particular learning tool (whether that is an App, program or device) then students will embrace it, use it and adapt it to become more complete learners. When it comes to ‘Technology Integration’ the key areas for me are:

  • Time – students and educators being given the time to experiment, play and use devices, Apps, programs and connections to enhance their learning.
  • Motivation – providing a medium that stimulates and encourages the students so they actively want to learn.
  • Failure – the opportunity for students to fail when they are working with new technologies and learn from that failure.

Finally I would like to end with this quote about Technology Integration from Wikipedia as I believe it accurately and concisely captures the essentials of what we should be doing to empower learning through ‘Technology Integration’. I have underlined the last section because, for me, this is an essential but often forgotten element of ‘Technology Integration’.

“Effective integration of technology is achieved when students are able to select technology tools to help them obtain information in a timely manner, analyze and synthesize the information, and present it professionally. The technology should become an integral part of how the classroom functions — as accessible as all other classroom tools. The focus in each lesson or unit is the curriculum outcome, not the technology.”