In my most recent post, I mentioned the Straight A Fund Grant that my school received to renovate 60+ classrooms, our media center and lecture halls, and build a professional development center. Our grant evaluators spent a few days at the school this month. They attended a faculty meeting to touch base with our staff about how the blended learning initiative was progressing. They summarized for us what they had learned about our students’ hopes for the pilot in meetings with the students. Students expressed a desire for:
- increased availability of Information
- greater Interest in content
- deeper Interaction with teachers and content
These three points struck a chord with me. They aren’t new ideas, but they are important ones. As this year gets off the ground, my colleagues and I are trying a lot of new things to use our available technology as much as possible. It is helpful, though, to have a litmus test to use for determining whether or not a use of technology will benefit teaching and learning. Perhaps these three ideas – information, interest, and interaction – can serve as the litmus test.
- Will this use of technology bring students in contact with more or better information?
- Will this use of technology establish more interest in the content?
- Will this use of technology allow students and teachers to interact in a deeper way?
In the same way that the SAMR model encourages us to think about how technology complements or extends a lesson, these questions focus attention on whether or not technology enhances or distracts in a lesson. An internet search could bring better information or it could provide so much information that it’s easy to avoid a task. A technology-based assessment could provide real-time data that informs instruction or it could be machine-graded with little impact on instruction at all. I like the simplicity of these three ideas as a lens for examining best practices. If the use of technology won’t accomplish at least one of these things, I am going to try something else.