Through the ‘Case 4’ video clips, the educator effectively summarizes his opinions on the three possible levels of incorporating technology in the classroom. Briefly, they are:
- Level 1 – Lecture enhancement (through direct control by the teacher)
- Level 2 – Lockstep student usage (students perform a technology based activity simultaneously)
- Level 3 – Self-directed and self-paced student learning (students progress as their own rate through a study guide)
These three levels are a great reminder of how digital technology could be effectively used in the classroom and perhaps, how they should be appropriately or better used to enhance learning.
Level 1 remains the most simplistic and easiest use of technology without any changes to pedagogy. A lecture can be enhanced with a PowerPoint presentation or digital projections of images but the essence of the lecture remains the same. Lawrence mentioned in his blog post last week that the use of technology should be for more than just a replacement of archaic methods. Current digital technology has the ability to surpass previous methods of lecture with increasingly complex representations of information and media. For instance, animation or video clips can now be easily integrated into a lecture.
Both Levels 2 and 3 introduce a greater integration of technology in the classroom with each level increasing the change in pedagogy. Level 2 promotes direct technology usage by students. Through simulations or similar activities, small groups of students interact with their learning. For example, online digital dissections provide an avenue for students to prepare for, or even in place of, actual dissections. Level 3 seems to be the pinnacle of digital technology and learning with students largely directing their own study at their own pace. As evident in the video, students were investigating a problem with guidance by the educator.
Through the video clips, the benefits of effectively implementing and integrating digital technology are evident. Students are engaged and challenged with their learning. As described in the ‘Case 3’ videos, students develop transferable skills that will inevitably enhance their own lives outside of the classroom. Despite these advantages, however, there are likely some limitations or issues. The instructor himself mentions the need for a support unit, especially to troubleshoot any potential problems with the technology. As technology increasingly advances, it will likely be more difficult to have mentors to support and fix this cutting edge material. Further, the hardware and software itself needs to be constantly updated, which can be both costly and time-consuming without the proper support; thus, resulting in funding complications. For example, in attempting to spontaneously run a PhET simulation this past week, the school computers did not have the proper update and administrative rights to correct the problem. Unfortunately, since this needs to be completed by the district tech support, the class has to omit that simulation. Other concerns at Level 2 are also evident in the ‘Case 3’ video, which demonstrated a physics class attempting to perform a laboratory exercise with digital technology. The use of computer programs and other apps do require some front-end loading. As mentioned in the video, curriculum is a key factor in determining lessons and often, time constraints prevent the full exploration of technological uses. This specific problem poses another challenge – the balance in using technology or not. I appreciate that throughout the year certain labs required technology and others did not; but a key issue remains how much do educators immerse their lessons in technology. The video mentioned for that specific lab they would not have to be “bogged down by data collection” and could instead focus on analyzing the physics but retrieving and data collection is still an aspect of science that should be valued.
Finally, while Level 3 is the ideal merging of technology and learning, I wonder about the ability of executing the realities of such a task in a secondary school setting. While this type of learning is well suited for a post-secondary, university level program, other audiences (secondary or elementary) or a more diverse classroom might not always be as receptive or have positive results, as described in the video.
With changes to the secondary curriculum in B.C. through the elimination of the provincial exams and the promotion of ‘core competencies’, there seems to be more freedom in creating lessons and units allowing educators the opportunity to incorporate advanced technologies to their teachings. Inevitably there are both benefits and challenges to incorporating technology to promote learning, where do you stand at integrating technology into your practice?