It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge. – Albert Einstein
Once, I got immersed in an argument online with an educator who saw technology being integrated into education as a total waste. It was unnecessary and more work than it was worth, as far as the person was concerned. Also, to the person, what we had been using all the while had sufficed for decades and produced the minds we already had. I then spent considerable time explaining that just because there was a status quo situation didn’t mean such would endure for all times. As we could both deduce from events across the nation, continent and globe, the truth is that technological innovation is opening the door to entirely new methods of teaching today, which were never feasible before.
There are a variety of tools that make the way teachers interact with their students and engage them in learning completely different from what was done previously. A perfect example of this change is the fact that previously a teacher presented learning concepts on the chalkboard and it was a great teaching tool earlier on. Miniature versions of this, as small slate boards, were sometimes used to assist students in learning how to write and also improve their numeracy skills. Now most schools have whiteboards and some schools even have interactive whiteboards. Others use tablets and smartphones to present content and engage their students.
Currently, we aren’t just reinventing the wheel, sometimes we are throwing out the wheel and starting afresh. We are moving to newer paradigms, and our teachers need to be prepared, not only for the tools available today, but also for the tools that we can’t yet imagine, but which would be available in the next 10, 15 or 20 years.
There needs to be a working plan which has a concise roadmap for ensuring that our teachers are prepared to handle the sweeping tide of educational technology that keeps growing in huge waves, and overhauling all in it’s path.
Back in the late nineties, my younger siblings had laptop computers and graphing calculators given to them by their school for their learning. It was a novel idea then and their school integrated technology into education because they had seen it done correctly in some other school districts with great results. I was intrigued by the prospect and often questioned them in great depth about their feelings about it. Also I was curious to know if achieved the objectives from which they had set out – to get them more engaged and have better grasp of the content that they were being taught. On both counts, they said the objectives had been met. The teachers in their school all got on board with the project, there were training programmes, along with sensitisation activities for parents in the school district.
It’s not enough to simply provide access to new tools, what’s essential is in ensuring that the stakeholders know how to use them, and beyond that appreciate the potentials of these tools. It is essential to highlight the learning opportunities that could be derived from the tools and then most people would be convinced in coming on board. It is crucial to always sell the benefits of every new device or new piece of software that is used in the classroom.
Getting to the real meat, the four ways that we ought to be training teachers start at the lowest level with SUBSTITUTION. When I started integrating technology in my lessons, instead of doing rote reviews with quizzes or going over questions, I used the game of Jeopardy to review, quiz or test materials. It was, of course, more visually appealing to my students; but beyond that it served the purpose that I had for it. My students were fully engaged in our review sessions and they depicted far higher comprehension of the material being reviewed. It was just as useful as the previous methods of review that were used in the past.
The next level on the rung is AUGMENTATION, where technological acts are directly substituted in the learning process and improve the function. An example of this was in replacing graphing functions on paper with doing this with graphing calculators. It made learning easier and grading students work more proficient.
These two levels are dependent to a great extent on the tool itself, rather than the teacher’s ability to use and innovate with it. This leads to the teacher having to see the potential in the tool and unlocking it for students.
When teachers are able to scale over these two rungs, they are then able to reach the third level of MODIFICATION, where technology enables projects and tasks to be redesigned. Online interactive educational applications where students take quizzes which have sound effects and fun centered themes not only make quizzing more fun, but they provide students and teachers with instantaneous feedback. These real-time analytics depict if there are gaps in students’ understanding that require additional time, or if it’s time to move on to newer concepts.
At the top of the ladder is when teachers are able to use technology to redefine learning, and this is termed REDEFINITION. Assignments and tasks are now possible that were previously inconceivable. Instead of written reports, perhaps students can now produce a research project as a video or an interactive digital timeline.
These provide new opportunities to foster students engagement, allow students to create, and require students to “take responsibility for their own comprehension. These four levels of technology integration — Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition — are known as the SAMR Model. It was developed by Ruben Puentedura, and the model provides teachers a framework for determining the efficacy of various technology options.
This will mean that teachers have to reach outside of their comfort zones. Most of them are more than willing to do so, provided they’ve also been given the necessary tools, training, teams and time to succeed. The ability to make mistakes and learn from them is key, and that growth mindset is something that current and future teachers should all embrace.
The goal is to determine new best practices for devices that are ever-changing. The sooner we unlock the full potential of the tools, the sooner we can unlock the full potentials of the teachers using them, and ultimately redefine the role education plays in the development of students.
Help us with our mission to bring about change for our students. Please contact me to see what we can do to bring about the desired transformation that we all desire for our children to be future ready!!!
Adetola Salau; Educator / Speaker / Author/ Social Entrepreneur / Innovator
She is an Advocate of STEM Education and is Passionate about Education reform. She is an innovative thinker and strives for our society & continent as a whole to reclaim it’s greatness. She runs an educational foundation with the mission to transform education.