I recently had the great privilege of presenting to a neighboring high school’s English department on their professional development Tech Day. They are a high school that has recently gone to 1:1 computing, with every student being issued a Macbook. While efforts have definitely been growing, the district wants to encourage even more seamless integration across the domains.
Having been working in some kind of 1:1 environment for a few years now, it was a great opportunity to share some thoughts about ways to take advantage and leverage the affordances of the new dynamic.
Like the Chinese word weiji, the truth of every student possessing a laptop is both precarious, invoking fear and for some danger, as well as presenting a crucial opportunity. The moment 1:1 computing becomes the reality of your classroom a lot of norms and previous practices are called into question. As Michael Wesch has so sharply articulated in his video The Machine is Us/ing Us, “We need to rethink a few things…”
Another truth is that not every educator, student, or person for that matter is ready for the depth or breadth of the changes that are occurring as more and more 1:1 programs roll out. Plus, adaptation and evolution take time and in educational settings that time can take longer than it does in corporate settings where increased sales and profits can outpace mistakes.
Still, given time, guidance, and encouragement educators and students can build capacity toward better and better seamless integration of computer devices into their way of working and being. It naturally happens in personal, informal settings but school has always been a little different and, in some cases, there has been good reason for those differences.
Nevertheless, here are some thoughts I shared in the presentation to the neighboring school and my own.
I used Ruben Puentedura‘s SAMR Model for my whole approach. I do not think it is a silver bullet answer, but I do think it can provide a useful framework for smoothly increasing integration and capacity over time.
It is always important to survey the teachers. Survey results can guide best SAMR model application. By encouraging each teacher to pick one to three tasks, units, or projects in a year to alter by integrating laptops using the model can rapidly make significant change.
- Self-ranked individuals of 1-2 : Substitution and Augmentation are reasonable goals by year’s end.
- Self-ranked individuals of 2-4 : Augmentation or Modification are reasonable goals by year’s end.
- Self-ranked individuals of 3-5 : Modification is a reasonable goal by year’s end with effort focused on Redefinition.
If every teacher selected 2-3 end-products each year to integrate and alter, within three years, the majority of student work would be enhanced by the affordances of the laptops. Depending on the comfort of the teachers, a significant portion of student work could be transformed. It may not be a reasonable goal that all student work will have gone through a Redefinition, but the natural byproduct of the process would contribute to a significant amount reaching that level.
Beginning with writing in mind first for planning purposes, enhances thoughtful, backward design of students learning. The student writing will determine the end-product, in turn opening the possibilities for the realization of an expanded notion of what constitutes a text. Additionally, students need opportunities of various levels and stakes to produce high quality end-products. Many of the examples above can benefit from the application of the SAMR model, ultimately including potential Redefinition.
Using Google Drive is a pure Substitution for any class, without making any changes. It can quickly be elevated to Modification by employing the sharing or commenting features. One simple strategy that leverages the Modification aspect is using a Google Document as the platform for collective, structured pre-writing activities, where guidance can be provided while work is captured, as well as shared across sections, potentially.
Additionally, demonstrations and templates, among other strategies can easily be employed to reach the Modification level. Yet, using the tool in the context of peer feedback groups.
Using Google Drive to create and administer Forms is one of the easiest ways to elevate to the Augmentation level, while gathering a variety of feedback or data from students that can be used in any number of ways. Forms can be a simple Substitution for strategies like entry or exit slips, opening prompts, surveys, and more. However, since the answers and data is collected in a spreadsheet that renders it searchable, manipulatable, thus potentially more useful and clearly reaching Augmentation.
Using Google Drive as a tool for peer feedback is another simple way to achieve the Augmentation level. Sharing a Google Document within a group and soliciting feedback becomes easier and enables some functional improvements. Using the Comment feature and a simple protocol, comments can be preserved for later revision. Additional, collaborative writing possibilities exist too.
Using social bookmarking tools offer another simple Substitution method for sharing resources. A tool like Flipboard works in a similar fashion but allows for curated resources to appear in a digital magazine-like format. Individuals or teams can use Flipboard to curate Internet items from periodicals, blogs, websites, anything with a URL in an elegant, easy-to-read format for sharing.
KQED’s Do Now is a Modification example of using an existing resource from San Francisco’s PBS station, which posts weekly articles and questions designed to engage teens at the intersection of current events and social media. Using hashtags and Twitter, comments, responses, answers can be shared and gathered. Since the site is built on a blog platform, a comments feature is also available for anyone to contribute, with or without Twitter.
Youth Voices is an existing student community with participating classes from across the country. While most of the active teachers and classes in the community are in the humanities, there is no requirements or limitations. The community of participating teachers continue to create curricular material that achieves Redefinition level. It is a lively and evolving community of student work.
This is a quick sample of the presentation and some accompanying thoughts about how to implement the model, as well as build capacity of a wider group of educators and students. Everyone is at a different place on a continuum of ability, learning, and understanding. Yet, using SAMR can anchor the efforts to advance and enhance the way class works, over time reaching higher and higher, with the potential to ultimately transform the entire way school works.