Category Archives: A. Interview

Goals, Engagement, and Experiences.

Mr. C. has extensive experience with educational technology. Beginning with his career in the Canadian military and later as an elementary school teacher, technology has been a consistent component of his professional experiences. Mr. C. has used his talents as an educational technology consultant and more recently as a grade 7 teacher toward his endeavor to “make a difference”.

During our interview, Mr. C. talked about the different ways he uses technology and his thoughts on technology and its impact on student learning. Throughout the interview, it became evident that Mr. C. uses technology as a means to an end. Three words that helped to frame this notion are: Experiences, Engagement, and Goals.

When asked about the strategies used to integrate technology, Mr. C. was very clear in stating his views. Learning goals and student needs are the basis from which decisions concerning technology are made.

Mr. C:

When I integrate technology I begin by looking at the curriculum learning goals. Then I look to see what technology we have available that can help in meeting those learning goals. Knowing your students and knowing you’re curriculum comes before knowing what technologies to use in the classroom.

Mr. C. recognizes that his students are more engaged when they are having fun. He also sees technology as a strategy that allows students to show their knowledge in multiple ways. He spoke in detail about the ways he integrates technology in his classroom. In science, his students enjoy learning by using robotics, simulations, and virtual reality tools. However, he also identified the importance of close monitoring and facilitating student learning noting that some students can get carried away or become sidetracked and need support and guidance to produce interesting and quality work.

As a grade 7 teacher, Mr. C. is responsible for teaching music. However, he does not have an educational background in this area. Yet despite his lack of knowledge, he’s able to provide students with a meaningful learning experience by using technology.

Mr. C.:

Where I don’t have all the intricacies of teaching grade 7 music, I can look at the big ideas in the curriculum and use technology like Garageband and the Finale Music to help me.

Mr. C. uses an integrated approach to teaching music by using musical technology as a part of his Language Arts program.

Mr. C.:

I’m showing students different ways to use technology to reach their learning goals. For example, in our novel study, we used Garageband to show demonstrate the mood of the novel. We used Finale which is a program that uses music notation to write a song about the book.

This brief ½ hour interview with Mr. C. provided me with a unique opportunity to understand a seasoned educator approach to using technology. From my perspective, Mr. C. shows signs of being very intentional and thoughtful about his approach. Pedagogy and the process of learning are strong influences that govern how Mr. C. uses technology in his classroom. He is also acutely aware of how technology can be used as a bridge for a teacher in their teaching and for students in their learning.

Differentiation, Balance, and support for implementation

The interviewee was an elementary teacher in the same school district. She has been teaching general Primary grades for the past 4 years. The interview was conducted at lunchtime in her classroom. Three key points were brought up in the discussion: differentiation, balancing technology and real-world activities, and supporting implementation.


The interviewee’s primary use of technology was to “support the math units” by “using the ipods as an extension for the grade 2’s”. This allowed her the freedom to work in a split class, “while the grade 2’s were still engaged with something that was math related on their own.” She also felt that technology was a valuable way to extend learning beyond the scope of science inquiry lessons. Using QR codes and a growing Youtube playlist, students could independently listen and learn. Other applications she used allowed her students to receive extra practice or review of a topic independently. Her main goal for having technology in the classroom came from a desire to differentiate for her learners. 

Balancing real-world and tech

The interviewee also stressed the importance of balancing the amount of technology students are exposed to with the physical opportunities of the real world. Much of the interview described ways in which students can “blend” the physical with the technological aspects of learning. By introducing coding and manipulative apps to her kids, she builds her students’ thinking of math and science to relate to the real-world. They can become better engaged if they know it “comes from something [they] used in real-life”.

Support towards Implementation

Finally, an ongoing challenge the interviewee felt she encountered was the need to “get the kids rolling” with new technology. At the younger ages, students have such diverse knowledge of how to use technology. She feels many activities need heavy teacher support to get going, that some of them are not worth all the effort it takes. Parent volunteers or older expert students could be a viable solution. She proposed a “tech circle” opportunity for older kids to teach younger kids similar to a literature circle. This way students can build their knowledge together and rely less on teacher support.

Training, Context and Flexibility – an interview of a clinician-educator

This interview involved Dr C, who is a maternal fetal medicine specialist, located at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton. She is also an associate professor of the Faculty of Medicine at University of Alberta. She has been teaching for 14 years. She teaches a variety of learners from undergraduate students, to postgraduate residents, ultrasound technicians and students. She does large lectures at the university, but also does a lot of small group teaching and bedside teaching. This interview was conducted on May 31, 2017 at 4:30 in the maternal fetal medicine clinic. The three key concepts that arose during our interview was Training, Context and Flexibility

Dr C felt that one of the greatest barriers to integrating technology into her teaching practice is training. She states that she is “interested in trying to keep up to date with technology and have been trying to be an enthusiastic adaptor” but at the same time comments that she is a bit of a “luddite”. She identified time as well as geography as a barrier to training. “I’m a very busy clinical and the patient practice sometimes makes it difficult to coordinate time to learn some of the new technologies that we could use for teaching and learning”. Her clinic is also geographically separated from the university, which is where all of the faculty development activities occur. She seems to feel disadvantaged compared to clinicians located at the University Hospital in this regard. She also states that being a “cyber immigrant” makes it more time consuming for her to grasp some concepts and learn to use technology in the classroom.

When discussing the use of technology and whether it was useful to enhance learning, she really felt that this dependent on the context. In a small group discussion or with bedside teaching, she feels that students are engaged regardless of technology and that technology did not enhance learning in this setting. But in a large group session, she finds students are less willing to be interactive without some form of technology that facilitates this.

We discussed her goals when she is integrating technology into her teaching, she stated that her main goal was “to make it interesting and in a format that the learners are more used to learning from”. She thought it was important to be able to present information visually and audibly. She felt that vodcasts allowed students to learn and review concepts at their own pace. It seemed that flexibility and accessibility for students was an important component to her teaching and she felt that students demanded this. I initially labeled this student-centred but changed it to flexibility, as the material that is taught is still knowledge centred or teacher-centred.

My reflections on the interview
My interview with Dr C further solidified by opinion that medical education is slow to change compared to K-12, and large class sizes adds an added dimension of challenge. Dr C identified a few challenges but I don’t think it’s unique to just her. I think many clinician-educators have difficulty due to time constraints and their other responsibilities such as patient care, administration etc. Financial limitations may also contribute. Many physicians are paid fee for service, and the educational component in many cases is done for free. Though this system is likely to change in the future, for now it seems that education is not as valued as services provided to patients. There needs to be a cultural change where innovation in education is as valuable to the university as research and services provided to patients. Only then will we see pedagogical changes within medical education.

Meaningful, student-centered, differentiation

D has been a teacher in the Surrey School District for 4 years. She teaches primarily grades K through 3. D is currently teaching a grade 2 class at an inner-city school, which is predominantly ELL (English language learner). Our interview was a phone interview on Thursday evening. She is currently working on her Masters of Arts in Educational Leadership and Management through Royal Roads University.

D uses a web-based program called Splash Math which students can access on the iPads at home and at school. She can align it with the curriculum’s big ideas and curricular competencies they are working on in class. “As soon as I bring Splash Math into our day, the kids are highly motivated, especially because they get feedback immediately.” Roschelle et al. (2000) explains that research and teachers suggest that students who participate in computer connected learning networks show increased motivation, a deeper understanding of concepts, and an increased willingness to tackle difficult questions. D explains that Splash Math is differentiated because it is tailored to each learner’s individual needs and it takes the pressure and embarrassment that comes with being a grade or two behind. The students can attempt harder questions without the fear of failure in front of their peers.

Technology allows D to check in with each of her students through apps like Book Creator. The students can take pictures or evidence of their learning in math and science and share it with her, and then post it on their digital portfolio. “FreshGrade is my reporting style. It shows their parents, them, and me where they are this point in time. I would use that information to then change my teaching, or go back and reflect with them on that concept, or show their parents what their child needs to continue to work on at home.” Digital portfolios encourage reflection at home, encouraging students to set goals for themselves. In their life cycle unit, students are making observations and documenting the life cycle of a plant with iPads. Students make predictions and reflect on what they’ve observed. “The learning results indicate that prompting students to reflect significantly increases knowledge integration in science projects” (Davis, E. A. 2000).

One of the challenges she faces is the lack of technology at her school level. There have been push backs from senior staff who are not willing to embrace something new. She explains that the more she models how technology can enhance student learning, the more teachers are willing to dip their toe into uncharted water. In the beginning, she was hesitant to bring technology in the classroom. Her students are at the centre of her decisions when it comes to technology, so she looks for technology that supports her learners. The question she asks herself when she considers new technology is, “Is it meaningful? More recently I started working with some more technology-minded colleagues and that really helped to push me into allowing technology to be a little bit more open-ended and to use it for more inquiry purposes. I have to trust my students and promote digital literacy. I’ve gone from being somebody who was quite nervous about it, to someone who is embracing it, and as soon as I embrace it and I lose that anxiety, I’ve noticed that my students have also started to embrace it, and its helped them to develop that growth mindset as well. Using technology and making mistakes, and pushing themselves to explore things they may have not otherwise”

For science lessons, she often shows BrainPop Jr. animated clips to support all learning styles: kinesthetic, auditory, and visual. D uses technology to support inquiry, and with iPads, students are learning to research, access different websites and videos, and find answers to what’s really important to them. Technology has enhanced science in her classroom, and made inquiries more meaningful.


Davis, E. A. (2000). Scaffolding students knowledge integration: prompts for reflection in KIE. International Journal of Science Education, 22(8), 819-837. doi:10.1080/095006900412293

Roschelle, J. M., Pea, R.D., Hoadley, C.M., Gordin, D.N., & Means, B.M. (2000). Changing How and What Children Learn in School with Computer-Based Technologies. The Future of Children, 10(2), 7. doi: 10.2307/1602690


Senior Science: Efficiency, Essential, Deep Learning

My interviewee has been a teacher in the British Columbia school system for 21 years teaching senior science.  My interview was conducted through Google Docs as it allowed my colleague the flexibility to answer the questions at their own leisure.

Through the interview I learned that his views on technology in the classroom are that “it is essential to practice” as it allows the teacher to bring in a wealth of resources to aid in student learning and many times, drive student learning.  Tools such as an LMS like Moodle and electronic meters are used “every single class”.  The use of an LMS allows transparent conversation with parents, helps to keep students accountable, and creates inefficiencies (such as reducing paper usage or direct feedback to students on assignments).

Some of the barriers that my colleague has encountered throughout his teaching career is when large technology decisions are made, but teachers are not consulted on their needs.  We understand that administrators have tough decisions to make, but the users of the technology should be key stakeholders in those decisions.  Specifically, he utilizes a lot of simulations that use both Flash and Java and class sets of iPads will limit their use – rendering this technology useless for him.

In regards to how tools are picked and how often they are replaced, he will first look at what his pedagogy states and then find the tools and is not driven by simply what is new.  Further, he will “only replace if something better comes along”.  In terms of assessment, and in line with the changing BC curriculum, he states that he no longer uses test and instead utilizes ongoing feedback and interviews – all with technology as an aid and not the driving factor.  I was impressed by his uses of alternative methods in a senior science class so asked him how he finds the time to implement technology in his classroom and still cover all of the course content and his response was simple:

“Technology is a tool that we need to take advantage of, to me it’s as basic as a pencil.  We wouldn’t ask an educator how they have time to utilize a pencil in the classroom would we?”.  

It was a stark reminder that if we have the right mindset and embrace its use, the veil of mystery covering technology can be lifted.

Student-Directed, Funding, Curriculum-Driven

My interviewee was a senior teacher who has taught with the same school board for the past 19 years in Ontario. She currently teaches middle school Math, Language, Physical Education and Social Studies. She has a very busy schedule and so our best option for an interview was to send her my questions on Google Docs and she filled out a question here and there when she had time (over the past week). There were three main focuses of the conversation and those were student-directed learning, funding and a discussion around how curriculum drives the technology and not vice-versa.

Student-Directed Learning

Much of the interview focused on this teacher’s pedagogy that she specified is strongly based around “inquiry based learning with the inclusion of technology on a daily basis for sharing of ideas to further collaboration between all learners.” She mentioned that one of the advantages to incorporating technology into her teaching practices is greater student collaboration. Having actually been in her class many times before, I can attest to the fact that her class is very student-directed. The students are essentially working at their own pace of items of their own interest, with connections to the curriculum. As the teacher interviewed in Case 5 (from last week’s activity) also demonstrated, the class is very noisy yet accomplishes many tasks with this open philosophy of learning.


When asked about any concerns or disadvantages she has recognized with respect to the inclusion of technology, the chief theme that prevailed was the lack of funding. “Money and funding sometimes does not take care of ‘Equality vs. Equity’”. One of the downfalls to having this interview conducted via Google Docs was the inability to ask follow-up questions. There are multiple ways to interpret this quote but as I have been in her class multiple times, I can only assume that she is referring to the diversification of her students in terms of what they personally have access to. Much of the work that is assigned is given to students as homework if not completed during class time. Many of the students do not have access to tablets at home nor does the school permit the classroom tablets/iPads to go home with the student unless that student has an IEP. That being said, many of the students cannot complete the homework at home and are left with only class time. Another factor that plays into this is the chaotic and loud work environment of the classroom, what comes along naturally with an Inquiry-Based Learning model, and how this is not ideal for all students to complete work.

“Curriculum Drives the Technology”

The majority of the interview was spent revealing the teacher’s pedagogy- “to involve technology when it is a tool to move the students forward not hinder the learning. Therefore it is my philosophy that curriculum drives the technology not the technology that drives the curriculum.” This teacher is the head of the technology department at this school and obviously has a large interest in the inclusion of technology into classrooms. She stated that, “we were beginning to see that technology is not a resource on its own but the means to enrich and deepen learning when embedded into a learning framework.” It was clear after hearing her responses that technology had to be implemented in a meaningful way and not just for the sake of it being there. She continued to stress that any technology she used in the classroom was “to deepen learning tasks in all subjects”. She cited her own professional development when she researched several authors such as Michael Fullen and “his vision of new pedagogy with digital tools and resources”. She illuminated how Fullen believes “it is not the use of technology that improves student achievement, but it is how well it is used to support learning. In fact, he suggests that LRT support and effective descriptive feedback made a greater impact.”


All in all, the interview highlights both important advantages and concerns regarding the inclusion of technology into the classroom. It is clear that the main goal of including technology into one’s classroom is for the students benefit. The take home from this interview was for technology to solely be used as a support to the curriculum and not tailored the other way around.

Enhancement, Affordances, and Access

I looked at the evolved role of technology in the 2017 classroom.  We probed the experience of two teachers’ view of “technology in the classroom” as a journey from student to experienced teaching professional.  We finished with their vision of the “future of e-learning”.  Teacher J has been teaching high school chemistry and junior science for 13 years.  She was interviewed in her room during her last period prep block.  Teacher C has been teaching high school ICT for 22 years.  He was interviewed in a nearby preparation room while his class worked on something.  Both teachers grew up and teach within the BC education system.

Theme 1:  Technology as Enhancement.  Both teachers remember their 1980-1990’s student and pre-service teaching experience of technology as not present in the classroom or things that enhanced existing practice.

As students…
Teacher C: “[Computers] were used to replacing handwriting or manual typing.”
Teacher J:  “Technology was wasn’t a big part of the high school classroom…the overhead projector was the technology of the classroom.”
Teacher C:  “When I was in grade 11…I learned programming, but that was outside of the classroom.”

As pre-service teachers…
Teacher J:  “In [2003] my B.Ed…the integration of technology was not a big part.  There was no push for technology, implicit or explicit.”
Teacher C: “There was nothing [in 1995].  The web didn’t exist.  There was just the internet.  The expectation was that we would use the computers for research…to make things look nice.  It was ‘let’s replace manual technology with digital technology.’”

Theme 2:  Exploiting the Affordances of Technology.  In their current practice, both teachers have obviously undertaken significant professional development and both understand and extensively exploit the affordances of digital technology and Web 2.0 including LMS (i.e. Google Classroom, WordPress), collaborative documents (i.e. Google Docs, Github, Wikispaces), online formative assessment tools (i.e. Kahoot, Poll Everywhere), data collection systems (i.e. Vernier Probes), visualization tools (i.e. PheT, Canva), cloud-based tutorials (i.e. Khan Academy), and digital storytelling (Youtube).

Teacher C:  “[Technology] is any device that allows you to do work either easier, or makes the job easier or more effective.”
Teacher J:  “I let my students use their cellphones to text in their answers using online polling software.  Students really enjoy that…it is engaging for them.”
Teacher C:  “[the students] collaborate, they co-create, they co-edit, they develop what they need to develop socially, together.”
Teacher J:  “When we were doing labs, students were recording the chemical reactions, making a time lapse video, and adding a link to their lab report.  I was able to go and see their reaction.”

Theme 3:  Bleeding Edge Issues For Learning 2.0  When asked about leveraging technology in our digital classrooms of the future, both teachers identified reliable access inside the classroom as the biggest issue.

Teacher C:  “The road blocks I run into are when I want kids to work together and something won’t let them.  Invariably that turns out to be institutional restrictions.”
Teacher J:  “I think technology is an integral part of the classroom now.  I’ve done many things with bring your own technology…I think that’s the future.  Teachers are requiring technology in their classroom, and they don’t have it.  Access is important for us, I think.
Teacher C:  “I want technology that works as well in school as it does out of school.  Everyone else uses technology for a million things in their life outside of the building.  I want a technology that lets us do the same thing inside [the building]…not a completely parallel set of tools, but that the needs are met for both groups and you only need to use one of [the tools].”

Risk, Resources and Collaboration

The interviewee is a colleague at another elementary school in our district, he is in his 8th year of teaching in general grade 5.  The interview was in his classroom after school, below are the 3 summative points from the conversation.


He felt that one of the main underlying themes to actively integrating technology with teaching practice was taking risks.  Technology combined with content and pedagogy, “unless actively practiced and tested in a classroom environment cannot become an integral part of a teacher’s toolkit.”  He takes risks daily when using new technology but finds that the rewards that present themselves when technology “clicks” far outweigh the times when his experiments with tech failed.  When a piece of software or hardware can be used for a specific application he often found that that device or app had much broader applications when applied between subjects or combined with previous successful technology platforms. He had to break out of his previous “binder based” lesson planning to start to develop his lessons online and this in itself required an investment of time and risk into a new platform to better store his work.  He stated, “part of the risk was letting go of your control over all aspects of the classroom and realizing that with these new tools there are many times the knowledge is reciprocal especially, for example with coding.”


He talked about the lack of cohesive resources that tied technology to content and competencies within our newly developed ADST curriculum.  He is moving towards a station approach to his classroom with Math and Science in which each station has an interdisciplinary approach using tech.   He is trying to develop automated websites which the students can log into to follow online instructions to learn the new digital fabrication and physical computing component that our district elementary schools are investing in.  “A direct teaching method is unproductive using stations and the individualized, authentic approach we are trying to use. The challenge lies in developing web based platforms to guide the students, moving them to self regulated learning tasks creating projects that combine reflection, adaption and collaboration.”  He does not have time to create these resources and finds it frustrating that our district and government seem to lack any centralized repositories to help teachers develop and integrate tech into their subjects.


He felt Multi User VIrtual Environments were possibly the most interactive, cooperative, dynamic teaching tool he had used thus far. He uses Minecraft with his teaching I asked him how the M.U.V.E.’s could benefit students.  He stated that “these large scale sandbox platforms are a place for teachers to build lessons that most closely mimic our physical environment in terms of unpredictable events, visual relation and open creativity.”  He felt as if M.U.V.E’s were in their infancy and not often used, however as an interdisciplinary tool for all subjects it covered a broad swath and had limitless possibilities.  He stated, “Most teachers will dismiss it as just a game, but the level of creativity and problem solving I have seen from our disengaged learners is astounding.”  Professional development on how to use this tool was probably the best way to bring it into skeptical teachers focus. He said “the limiting tool could possibly be the level of technology that schools require to run the platform in their labs.”  

Engagement, Assessment & Barrier

Ms. G is currently a grade 6 elementary teacher at a school in downtown Vancouver. This is only her second year of teaching where before she worked in marketing. The interview was conducted face to face in her classroom at 8:30 a.m. on Monday May 29, 2017.

Three summary keywords that echoed throughout my interview were: engagement, assessment and barrier. Ms. G uses technology in her math class everyday. She uses her Smartboard to, “… watch videos, complete interactive activities that promote student engagement, and for teacher demonstration.” If she wants to capture student’s attention in math, she’ll either use Khan Academy to demonstrate a concept or find a mini video clip on Youtube. She appreciates how convenient it is to have a Smartboard in class and feels that she’s pretty fortunate since not all teachers have one. She uses an online copy of her student’s workbook so that the entire class can do math examples from the book on the Smartboard. Ms. G stated that by doing so it will help, “…students assess their own understanding.” One area of incorporating technology into the classroom that she would like to learn more on is assessment.

Ms. G mentioned in the interview that she would like, “…to use other programs that would help with formative and summative assessment like quick little quizzes or tests where students can log-in and track their progress throughout the unit. I would like to set-up the quizzes so that they correlate with what we just learned in class rather than random questions from the textbook.” I mentioned if she has considered creating her own online quizzes and her response was that, “I don’t have the time in my busy schedule.” Again, this sentiment is the same view as other teachers such as in Video Cases 5 & 6 in our previous lesson.

The third keyword that stuck out in my interview with Ms. G is barrier. As she states, “Resources are a huge barrier to teachers and students in the public school system since you cannot guarantee that technology is available when you need it.” At her school, they have 2 iPad carts which is shared amongst 18+ divisions. You have to book far in advance if you want to use them in your class. Also, her union advocates against the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) model which is another barrier in the way of incorporating technology into the class.  Since her schoolboard won’t provide more funding for other technological devices in class, she still allows her students to BYOD but with certain restrictions.

In conclusion, Ms. G uses technology wherever she can in her math class but would like to learn how to assess her students while using it. If given the chance, she, “…would be eager to take any training offered by my school board as students are very engaged with technology and learning how it can be embedded across all subjects would be very beneficial.”



Trial and Error, Relationship, Advancement

The interviewee is a colleague at my school, presently in his fourth year teaching in areas of Science, Math and PE. The interview took place in my classroom after lunch on a professional development day. Three summary points are elaborated below:

  • Trial and Error

Technology can at least be used for instruction, administration and interaction, where the interviewee described using computer-based technology: Tablets and projectors for teaching, Websites for announcements to keep up to date, and Online simulations like PhET and Youtube where students can explore. The interviewee explained how simulations help visualize concepts to understand phase changes for molecules, in place of stationary pictures in textbooks. Geogebra and Desmos likewise help learners connect with math, accessing through open source platforms. The biggest advice from him was “trial and error”, in that technology might not work after all, but at least you’ll know by trying it out. To confront fear of failure, he suggested not trying with the entire class, but maybe a small group afterschool first.

  • Relationship

The interviewee modelled a genuine and mutual interaction with students, receiving feedback to determine whether technology was successful. Certain students learn better with technology, while others disengage as phones can be distractions. He described how social media is always at their fingertips, possibly eliciting worry about their online presence the whole time. The interviewee emphasized being clear with expectations (ex. when to use technology), discretely trying not to make a scene. Of course that depends on students, though it escalates for him when student not only affects him/herself but those around him. Students want genuine teachers who acknowledge weaknesses, promoting collaborative attitudes like “let’s work on this together”. Otherwise student doesn’t want to participate when they don’t understand, perceiving teacher as the expert. The model is teamwork based, so educators don’t have to know everything, but can problem solve with colleagues and peers. Interviewee described how teachers often forget how good students are with technology, where learners can feel empowered to passionately share with the class.

  • Advancement

Interviewee described how when he went through school, while technology was not limited (ex. All The Right Type, Paint), it was very simple technology with limited programming even in computer classes. While Science and Math used different software, he would only rarely go to computer labs for the purpose of research. Sometimes even tried technologies like Powerpoint doesn’t work too well, presenting information too quickly for students to process. Interviewee recognizes that now technology is everywhere, so why try to hide something so powerful when “they can search up the world”. As such, the interviewee encourages bringing laptops for learning, exploring modern apps that make phones wonderful learning tools. The gender stereotypes that were prominent before are much less pronounced, as girls use modern apps equally shrinking possible gender discrimination issues.