2f – Summary & Evidence

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2f. Coach teachers in and model incorporation of research-based best practices in instructional design when planning technology-enhanced learning experiences.

I touched on a lot of this particular indicator in Indicator 2b, but I would add this– We are already asking our teachers for a lot. I was reading a post the other day, which I unfortunately could not find again, in which the author was discussing a memo they had gotten from their administration about their scope and sequence for the year. The administration was encouraging them to try and get all the main subjects taught by the end of the third quarter of the year because those topics would be on the state test. He was wondering what the point of the rest of the year would be and how they were going to teach all of the standards before testing and expect students to have a deep understanding of them that we would want for our students. I can completely understand teachers lack of enthusiasm for taking on something they see as a separate topic or “another thing we have to teach” when they are facing that kind of pressure.  If technology standards are going to be included, we have to find ways to make them an integral part of the teaching and learning process. Unfortunately, that may mean changing the ways we teach and learn.

It will eventually come down to conversations about good instructional design and practice. Here are some things I have been thinking about:

  1. It starts with a clear understanding of all the standards. Not every teacher needs to know all standards across all grade levels but someone at the district level should have a big picture view of all of them. Teachers do need to know their grade level or department standards and be using them to design purposeful lessons and learning experiences for their students.  I do believe that we can start technology integration by looking for places in teacher’s current instructional practices were technology could replace or enhance what they are already doing. It is a start but it may be the top of a slippery slope. That is what we did when we put devices into teachers hands without training on how to change their instructional practice. If we are going to try to push technology to fit into our current practices or use it to add a digital element to traditional teaching methods then we may have a long uphill climb to really change thinking about how to educate students differently.
  2. Next, we need to use models of designing learning that start with standards and purpose. I like the Understanding by Design (UbD) model combined with Universal Design for Learning (UDL) which both start with understanding the learning targets and understanding the unique learning needs of students (Helping Teachers Make Digital Learning Accessible to All). We can not make the technology be the focal point for a lesson. If it overshadows the purpose of the learning it may not have been the best tool for the job.
  3. We need to consider rethinking our organizational policies to allow for innovation and creativity as part of our instructional design. One start we can make on that is to redesign our Acceptable Use Policies into Responsible Use Policies. We can shift the focus from what we do not want our students to do to the types of things we do want them to do. We, of course, have a responsibility to keep our students safe and increasingly to protect their identity and data when using online tools but I worry that we will over react to the point that we will severely restrict the opportunities for our students to participate in the connected, collaborative world that they are part of outside of school.

If we can start with those things I think we can start to shift the conversation about designing new learning experiences that leverage technology in ways that transform our traditional ways of teaching and learning.

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