Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Embedding Technology to Change Pedagogy

Embedding Technology to Change Pedagogy

Changing the way you teach is always scary whether it is introducing a new AfL technique, trialling Kagan structures or a trying a new differentiation strategy. Add the layer of complexity that using technology brings and to be honest, it’s often easy just to play around or avoid it at all, rather than consciously using tech to change and develop your pedagogy. Yet, we instinctively know that the benefits could be substantial if we can break through those invisible barriers. So are there shortcuts to embedding technology to change pedagogy?

Simply, the answer is no. Sorry. However, there are some simple steps I would suggest you can follow to make your journey a little easier.

  1. Choose ONE thing!
There are thousands of apps and as many different ways of using each of them, which can be overwhelming when trying to embed technology to change pedagogy. The most common error I see in our schools is teachers trying to do ten things, all of which don’t quite get embedded and get quickly forgotten. If you starting out, go very simple. If you consider yourself an expert, I would still suggest just doing one or two things well, until it is completely natural to both you and the students.
  1. Plan for the technical setup time
This often the most difficult step. Every time you are planning to use a new tool/app, set aside time to allow for getting students set up or logged in. However long you think it should take to get 30 students set up, double it, possibly even triple it. If it is an app, make their homework a week before to download it, then check the lesson before you plan to use it that they have it. In a culture of making every second count, teachers are often afraid to see this as good use of time, but try to see it as an investment that will lead to long term gains.

  1. Develop pedagogy around the tool
Ask yourself which key teaching and learning skill can I focus on with this tool/app. For example, can I use this tool with groups that are differentiated by ability or with the most able, supporting the least able? Can I use this tool as a way stimulate higher level questions or thinking? As we know, no technology tool can replace the invaluable skill you have as an educator in helping students learn.

  1. Invest in student learning time
We assume that because students are digital natives and can use a tablet proficiently at aged two, like my youngest son, that they are expert users of technology for learning. That simply isn’t the case. Playing games is one thing, using technology for a purpose is another level of skill. So often teachers expect too much of students, so that when the outcomes students produce using technology are often poorer than through traditional methods, teachers become discouraged and move on. By doing one thing and investing time in helping students master it for learning purposes over time you will change the culture of using technology not just a reward or novelty bonus but a useful tool for learning.
Once you have your classes using the ONE tool effectively and you can plan and use it with minimal effort, then you are ready to move on the next tool or technique. Trying to rush ahead is often self defeating.

Quick suggestions for useful tools:

  1. Kahoot- Free, quick and easy online quiz application that kids highly engaged
  2. Padlet- Free, quick and easy online whiteboard application that everyone can share.
  3. Google Classroom- Great way to share work, ask questions. If you want to be more advanced you can start marking work online through Google docs.
  4. Blogger- A free blogging service from Google. A potential way to get students to use an online exercise book, with opportunity for comments and feedback

Embedding technology is a marathon not a sprint, so don’t rush it because if it’s worth doing, it’s worth taking time over.

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