Frameworks for Learning

Technology Integration

There was a time when technology in schools was so new that the main question was how to open the right program (let alone using it). No idea when exactly this happened, but I remember clearly standing in the staff room when a colleague opened the door to tell me: “Christel, I left a Post-It on your computer screen to tell you I sent you an email.“… and yes Post-It notes were (also) a novelty for us at the time.
In 2007, this Edutopia article was asking: What is Successful Technology Integration? and defined the concept as “[…] the use of technology resources — computers, mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, digital cameras, social media platforms and networks, software applications, the Internet, etc. — in daily classroom practices, and in the management of a school.” This was a valid question at the time (and still is!) as it required a shift from using technology in the classroom to doing so successfully and meaningfully.

Nowadays we have access to electronic devices, apps, and tools that didn’t exist yet a dozen years ago. Things keep changing fast in this field and the tools became much more intuitive. Also, the younger generations don’t have to go through the same tech learning curve anymore.
Therefore the objective of integrating technology in the classrooms should focus on encouraging and inspiring students to develop a deeper knowledge and understanding of the course content, not to master the tool itself.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

“The ultimate goal of technology integration is to completely redefine how we teach and learn, and to do things that we never could before the technology was in our hands” –  Dr. Ruben Puentedura

The Right Frame

Technology tools effectively integrated into the curriculum can extend learning in powerful ways. With that goal in mind, these frameworks have been developed to help educators design lesson plans that integrate technology in a meaningful way.

SAMR

About 20 years ago, Dr. Ruben Puentedura created a model to help educators integrate technology into teaching and learning, called SAMR. This technology framework enables teachers to design, develop, and integrate digital learning experiences for their students.

SAMR is the acronym for SubstitutionAugmentationModification, and Redefinition. While the two first levels bring some enhancement, the ultimate goal is clearly to transform student learning experiences by reaching higher levels of achievement with the transformation ones. SAMR framework’s objective is to easily guide teachers and help them plan and create activities that use technology in an effective and meaningful way, and not for the sake of using these tools.
There are different visual representations of SAMR but I particularly like this one, also used by our Middle School leadership team a few years ago during a Professional Development session. I find it clear and accessible to use as a starting point.

Image credit: Sylvia Duckworth, via @DavidGuerin

For a better understanding of its concepts, here is a video overview of What Is the SAMR Model?, made by Common Sense Media.

TPACK

The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) framework was first developed by Matthew J. Koehler and Punya Mishra. Based on Shulman’s idea of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK), it puts forward the idea that effective teachers are qualified in technological, content, and pedagogical knowledge in order to promote meaningful learning for their students.
The TPACK framework looks at the relationships between technologypedagogy, and contentin specific contexts. Obviously, there are overlaps of these three main knowledge areas: Technological Knowledge (TK), Pedagogical Knowledge (PK), and Content Knowledge (CK). The ideal is to build the lesson in the junction of all three, right in the middle of it all.

The TPACK Image (rights free)

As Koehler tells in TPACK Explained: “Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPACK) attempts to identify the nature of knowledge required by teachers for technology integration in their teaching while addressing the complex, multifaceted and situated nature of teacher knowledge.”

Here again, Common Sense Media offers a clear video explanation of the concept of  “What is the TPACK Model?

TIM – Technology Integration Matrix

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) is another framework for describing and targeting the use of technology to enhance learning in the classroom. It combines five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal-directed. These are associated with five levels of technology integration: entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation. Together, they create a matrix of 25 cells.
And it comes with a great added value I find: by clicking on any of the cells, you access: Extended Descriptors, Video Lesson Examples, and Related Ressources! This can help you determine where you and/or students stand in terms of technology expertise, while at the same time it also helps you develop your next lesson plan.

ISTE

The International Society for Technology in Education defines itself as a community of “global educators who believe in the power of technology to transform teaching and learning, accelerate innovation and solve tough problems in education”.
The ISTE Standards are a framework designed to guide students and teachers (but also educational leaders, coaches, and computational thinking) through a transformative process leading to better learning while using technology naturally.
Having started to use some of these standards in a few previous COETAIL units, I can say that these standards clearly outline the expectations both for the teachers and the students. I found out that they include more basic skills as well as high-level efficiency requiring skills, designing the path to a reach the ultimate goal of a successful technology integration.

In the video below, Chris Zook, on the AES CTE Blog, describe the ISTE standards, explaining why they should be used:

More Framing?

Of course, there are more technology frameworks available out there, even if the ones above are considered the main ones. In his International EdTech Blog, Matt Harris presents a long list of the better known Educational Technology standards and frameworks. It is worth a look.

And you, which one(s) do you use at your school?

My School, Technology, and Integration

At the beginning of the 1990s, and for a few years, technology at my school, as in a lot of other places I believe, mainly meant tools used at the first SAMR level (Substitution).
I remember well the excitement when the High School Library acquired its first couple of computers for students to research encyclopedias on CDROMs! It felt like being part of the progress, but looking back, it was only a first step, and mainly swapping one format for another.

Slowly things started to move towards level two (Augmentation), but the first real shift appeared in the Fall of 2006, when becoming a 1:1 school. At first, grade 8 in Middle School and 10 in High School were piloting the program and each of those students, plus all teachers, received a portable laptop.
The full implementation of one-to-one devices started the following school year, in 2007-2008, for grades 7 to 12. Later on, laptop carts became available for Early Childhood Center (up to grade 2) and Elementary School (grade 3 to 6) classes.
For various reasons, a few in the ECC started to also use iPads, which eventually led to the decision of fully migrating the ECC and ES to iPads and Macs in 2017-18. Rather than a decision made by the IT department and the administration, it was clearly initiated by the users’ reflection and the motivation of the simplicity of its use by the school’s younger members, and the large range of apps available for this age-group students.
Soon there will be 30 iPads also available for occasional use in Middle and High School.

At my school, educational technology is definitely not an empty word, but I would say it is a never-ending journey, one that started quite a few years ago already, but as often the best scenic routes are the longest but the most effective ones at the end.

In 2015, the High School hired a part-time HS English/Technology Integration teacher was hired, and when leaving replaced in 2017, by a part-time technology Integration Specialist also teaching math. They both worked with students and teachers to help them implement the use of technology within the learning.
Another step forward was made in September 2019 when our current colleague was hired as Media Resource & Tech Integration Teacher, both for the MS and HS which was a sensible decision I felt, to bring better coherence across both schools. Shifting the offices around, and bringing him together in the same space as some of the IT Technicians and MHS Teacher-Librarians also facilitates mutual understanding of our jobs, and helps to achieve a culture of collaboration.

Another beauty of this COETAIL program: it actually encouraged me to initiate a conversation with him about frameworks, especially in the HS (grade 10 to 12), where teachers are well aware of the pedagogical content (see the TPACK model), but using education technology to the fullest can still be promoted. The IB (International Baccalaureat) program is indeed content-heavy, and teachers are therefore less brave sometimes to take to explore new tools and new ways.
Obviously, the pandemic and resulting lockdown, that lead to weeks/months of Distance learning, gave a considerable kick to all teachers to be on the same page for using some of the tech tools, and re-thinking their course delivery method. This is at least one thing positive to take away from this difficult and unprecedented situation. 

 

 

Opening our Perspectives – Course 3 Final Project

We should always aim to open up our perspectives: in the workplace,  collaboration is a great way to achieve that. In Keeping the Door Open to CollaborationMinero explains how “intentional teacher collaboration creates a strong professional culture and spreads good ideas room to room”, which will be beneficial not only for the teachers but also for their students. 

I find a lot of truth in Robert John Meehan‘s above quote, and this Course 3 Collaborative Final Project made it all become real.
The first step was to contact my co-COETAIL-ers to form a group. After talking to different people, we created a team of four members working with teenagers.

While my first idea was to go for option 1 and create a 2-4 hour professional development program, once we started brainstorming it became clear, including to me, that offering extra professional development in a pandemic situation was not wise: in the past months, teachers already had to get used to a lot of new online tools to navigate distance learning, and their days (and evenings) became busier than ever.

Therefore we decided to create a unit planner based on the understandings of this course with the objective to support students in becoming Creative Communicators and Global Collaborators.

Our first challenge was to set up an efficient communication channel:  while using Twitter’s group messages seemed a good idea, it took a while to realize that one of us didn’t receive the notifications. Once it got solved, we also created a shared Google Doc where we could suggest some unit plan ideas and comment on each other’s.

As there is nothing better than meeting in person at some point during a collaborative project, we also organized a couple of video calls. Picking a time was not easy because of the different time zones: between Panama, Belgium, Russia, and Cambodia the common decent time window is quite narrow. I discovered a new tool along the way: timeanddate.com and we eventually found a time that worked for us, thanks to our colleague in Panama who is a (very) early riser!
We started the conversation by looking over the shared sample lesson plans and finally decided to revise the unit of one of our colleagues on Migration as he was going to teach it to his school’s grade 9 students  We agreed that it would give us all an authentic experience. Besides, I was personally interested in the topic as I used to collaborate with grade 7 Social Studies teachers on a  unit on the same topic, facilitating the research component in my Teacher-Librarian role.

Here is the Updated Migration Unit Plan that was produced

This type of task still remains a challenge for me, as writing unit plans is not my area of expertise: I usually collaborate with classroom teachers, and the content I deliver is incorporated in their lesson plans. The standards for what I teach independently, like Academic Honesty, are regularly revised but do not require the same type of process.

Obviously, the unit on Migration already included content standards, and our colleague updated them to reflect the newer version. Then we decided together which ISTE standards would be most meaningful, and which activities could be offered in order to improve student collaboration, with the relevant technology tools.

Here are the selected ISTE Standards:

  • 6.c. Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using various digital objects such as visualizations, models, or simulations.
  • 7.b. Students use collaborative technologies to work with others, including peers, experts, or community members, to examine issues and problems from multiple viewpoints.

For the technology tools, there were some constraints linked to what the students had already been exposed to: for example, one of our first ideas was for students to create infographics in groups [as it was part of one of our recent COETAIL course content], but that was dismissed as already included in the previous assignment.
After looking at different options, the chosen tool for the final activity is Parlay Ideas, a comprehensive discussion platform that allows students to interact with each other and their teacher, both virtually and in person. I didn’t know this tool before, but it seemed promising, and fitting the ISTE Standards we were aiming for, and to the unit that will be taught.

One issue though: the teachers of the Anglo-American School of Moscow had not used the live version yet.  The two tech-savvy members of our group spontaneously offered to run a PD session for them, going beyond our own course requirements and extending the collaboration spirit. Although I wasn’t able to join the training session, I received its recording and I would now be able to suggest this tool to my own colleagues.

This process was enlightening both from a personal and professional point of view as it showed the richness of our interactions and the power of collaboration.  As international educators, with diverse backgrounds and skills, it reminded us that sharing our experiences can only broaden our perspectives and knowledge, especially at a time when we all have to face a pandemic and the consequences that it brought to our teaching jobs.

Finally, I am hopeful that the updates made to the Migration lesson thanks to our collaboration were helpful and will bring added values for the students and their teachers.

 

Breaking Down Barriers

Photo by alessandro fazari on Unsplash

The Cycle of Socialization

In the book Readings for Diversity and Social Justice, which covers issues related to identity and oppression from a social justice perspective, there is a chapter written by Bobbie Harro titled: “The Cycle of Socialization” that will help us understand “the way in which we are socialized to play certain roles, how we are affected by issues of oppression, and how we help maintain an oppressive system based upon power” (Source).

It appeared to be an enlightening reading that I encountered at the right time as I recently had a conversation with my nineteen-year-old son and friends on the distinction between innate and acquired characteristics, and it led to some interesting debates. Although a different topic, what Harro explains complements this discussion, adding food for thought, especially about the concept that  “things are the way they are because it always has been that way” (!).
In Resistance to Change: “We’ve Always Done it That Way” Leslie Durr explains how people often continue to apply “the rules” from their family of origin without questioning them, even without having personally experienced negative consequences from having tested those rules.

Thanks to Harro’s graph on the Cycle of Socialization, we can follow the process and notice that there is also hope: at a certain point, some people will be able to break it in order to take their own chosen path. You can find out more about that in The Cycle of Liberation

Technology to Connect with Diverse Ideas and People

This Text Rendering Protocol from National School Reform Faculty (NSRF) is designed for working collaboratively while constructing meaning, clarifying, and expanding our thinking about a text.  It is easy to set up with any group size.
As I applied it to Harro’s text, I realized that it helped me think deeper about what I was reading, especially about what resonated best with me as I had to pick a word, a phrase, and a sentence. 

I recorded myself sharing these on Flipgrid, an online tool to create engaging video discussion experiences around a topic. I had never used Flipgrid before and it required going out of my comfort zone: it can be difficult to hear your own voice as it sounds different on a screen compared to what you perceive when you talk. Same with your own image, gestures, head, and hand movements. To be honest, I practiced a couple of time on my smartphone before going to Flipgrid 🙂
But after this experience, I see how I can take advantage of this tool to integrate technology into lessons when planning with my classroom colleagues. And I know that students are already used to film themselves: after all, they were born with social media apps.
For this project, linking the text Rendering Protocol with Flipgrid is a nice combination as it mixes written text, technology tool, and collaboration: a winning ticket!

In this first Flipgrid video, I mention a word, a phrase, and a sentence that resonated best with me when reading The Cycle of Socialization.

You can view it by scanning this QR code:

MY CHOICE
Word: Change – Phase: Internalized oppression – Sentence: We fail to realize that we have become participants by doing nothing

The next step was to find out what my co-COETAIL-ers picked up, and watch what they have to say about this text. Here is what I understood from some of them:

MELANIE
Word: Confusion – Phase: Inherited without our permission – Sentence: We are exposed to roles, rules, and assumptions that are not fair to everyone.

CINDY
Word: Interrupt – Phase: We are innocent – Sentence: It should be simple, but it isn’t.

MOONEY
Word: Humanize – Sentence: Our silence is consent unless our discomfort becomes larger than our comfort.

LUIS CARLOS
Word: Empower – Sentence: Once you know something you can’t not know it anymore […].

It would be great if you could join this conversation on our Community Discussion topic

Communication Artists

Becoming Communication Artists

When reading the unit title, what I remembered was “Artist”… and got scared! (as I am not an artist sadly enough). But then, reading the Big Idea we will be working on, I already felt better:
Delivering information and communicating ideas is an art.
As a teacher-librarian, I know about delivering information, so let’s have a look at how I could enrich my practices with some [communication] art! 

Photo by Bench Accounting on Unsplash

The IRIS Award is a reading collaboration program between international Schools in Western Europe. In order to advertise the Iris Award Bookbowl, which is an accompanying quiz program, to our Middle Schoolers, a very eager colleague created a poster in Canva, a graphic design platform, used to create social media graphics, presentations, posters.
Note: the IRIS 2021 logo with the colorful stripes in the middle is a fixed image on a white background, and we can’t modify it. 
When she showed the first draft, asking for feedback, I quickly realized that there was too much information, too many colors, no clear direction as the eyes don’t know where to land. 

That was easy for me to assess, having just gone through the resources offered in our COETAIL course on visual aids. 
Before we could edit it together, being determined to improve it, my colleague kept working on it, this time adding all the 15 books covers (see 1st image below). Then, realizing it was messy (!), she rearranged them around the frame, hoping for a cleaner finish (see 2nd image below).

No doubt: it is colorful and eye-catching, but maybe not for the good reasons. 
We sometimes need to stop and think again at the objective: what is the MAIN message we want to convey? 

David JP Phillips’ passions are the brain and presentation skills. He combines both in this engaging TEDx talk: How to avoid death by PowerPoint (loved the catchy title by the way!), in which he explains what to absolutely avoid and what matters for creating an effective presentation.

Some of the key points can be transferred in this case:

  • One message per slide (here = on the poster)
  •  Size: eyes will be attracted by a big title
  • Contrast: by adding one subject line at a time, and with more contrast
  • Object: the magical number in a PP is 6 => add more slides if needed

    Garr Reynolds, author and communication consultant on how to design & deliver powerful presentations, insists on the following points in What is good Presentation  Design
  • Context matters: know your audience beforehand
  • Simple but not simplistic: the best visuals are designed with an eye to simplicity yet based on content and context
  • Visual makeover: the goal is to support a single message in a subtle and memorable way that fits into the theme, is appealing and attractive.

    I loved some of the “Before” and “After” illustrated in his presentation: 
       

With all that in mind, it was obvious what needed to happen to our poster which was going to be used both the old-fashioned way, on the wall in the school staircase, and in a Google Slides presentation during in-person lessons. 
Here are the results: a simple and clear message on each version, as additional explanations will be delivered orally to the students. 

 

 

 

 

See What I Mean

Nowadays, more than ever, information is everywhere.
And so much of it! 

In 2009 already, in the Harvard Business Review, Paul Kemp was talking about Death by Information Overload while Oksana Tunikova, nearly a decade later,  asks Are We Consuming Too Much Information? and is defining this new reality…

“Information overload is the state of feeling overwhelmed by the volume of information to the point at which one feels more confused than knowledgeable about a particular topic. Information overload can manifest itself as brain fog and difficulty making decisions.”

By Langwitches on flick

From healthy relationships to understanding the world we live in, we know for sure that clear communication is the key to success. Of course, it is no different when it comes to education.

Therefore educators have a crucial role to play when teaching: not only do they have to deliver content and teach students how to learn, but they have to do so in an effective way, adapted to today’s reality. Avoiding long written pieces in favor of visual communication is one excellent method of sharing ideas and data.
And most importantly, teachers need to encourage students to also express themselves clearly and creatively: using infographics and data visualization can achieve that. 

For Column Five, infographic is “where data meets design“. Playing with different attributes like color, size, orientation, and even flicker, in order to produce creative work that informs, engages, and inspires. Communicating complex information through design can take place in all the different subjects taught in school, for all ages and can be applied to all sorts of information including processes, hierarchy, anatomy, chronology…

Furthermore, David McCandless, founder of information is beautiful claims his goal is to help people make clearer, more informed decisions about the world. He turns complex data sets into beautiful, simple diagrams that bring to light unseen patterns and connections. Good design, he suggests, is the best way to navigate information excess,  and it may just change the way we see the world.

Applying

As I had to adapt a presentation for our first-ever 2021 graduating class going through The International Baccalaureate® (IB) Career-related Programme (CP), it was an opportunity to apply my new understanding of infographics and its purpose.
We already have a Google Slides presentation geared toward the Extended Essay of the IB Diploma Programme, but I felt that this class needs its own.
I wanted to discover Piktochart,  which claims to “quickly turn any text- or data-heavy content into a stunning report, presentation, infographic, social media graphic, or printable and I used one of their free template.”
I used one of the templates available with the free account (below, right) and adapted it (below, left), and enjoyed playing around with it. One can see that is not perfect (yet): lack of alignment – questionable background color… Works in progress!

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