A Means to an End…

As with all learning, technology integration is at its best when designed to facilitate and enhance a constructivist teaching pedagogy. Learning technologies can allow for qualitatively unique capabilities and experiences for both students and educators. Whether used to facilitate creative expression, provide prompt feedback, increase collaboration, etc., technology can help develop abilities by expanding educational opportunity. Technology is not an end in itself. Many learning experiences are not enhanced by technology. Educators should critically reflect on whether technology adds to an experience and seek balance for students.

My division has recently engaged in a problem-based math iPad project, which I have been a part of for the last two years. It came to mind when considering practices that demonstrate good use from both a classroom and divisional level. The iPads were purposely organized to include apps and resources that facilitate problem-based instruction and learning. Apps such as Explain Everything, iMovie, Virtual Manipulatives were explored within a pedagogical context. Below are some more examples…

The primary focus was math but we displayed our learning through the technology tools we were exploring. All grade 4 – 9 teachers participated and helped facilitate 10 flexible half-day pedagogy and content focused PD sessions. Optional technology focused help sessions were also offered. Teachers preformed diagnostic assessments and have continually tracked the development of the students over the last several years to assess the benefits of the project. The pedological focus could have been a variety of topics but the overall design supported teachers of all abilities to integrate technology in a purposeful way.

2 comments

  1. I would love to hear more about how the iPads are going in terms of problem-based instruction. Our iPad cart seems to get used for some very simple games/apps/babysitting. iMovie has been somewhat successful in terms of a creation platform, but we’ve had a lot more use from the Chromebooks in terms of actually getting the Grades 4-6 students actually making “stuff”.

  2. I think the project has been successful for those who are fully engaged and supportive of the problem-based math pedagogy. The iPads can be a great way to demonstrate understanding in a very visual and interactive way but they can’t provide quality problems or facilitate rich discussions. Each class was provided with only six iPads. This resulted in a lot of small group instruction, which the iPads have made easier. My division was very careful to not let the iPads become a means of babysitting or “digital worksheets”. There are many apps that are not permitted, which I think would be beneficial. The divisions attempt to prevent them being used in a certain way also restricted interested teachers ability to use them more innovative ways.

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