Every time I go to a conference I always hear that we should put learning and pedagogy first before the device or technology. But how does a teacher connect learning; pedagogy and content to the device if they don’t understand or see what the capabilities of the device or tech is.
Should the edutech cart be before the learning horse?
Conferences like Teach Tech Play connect the dots between content, pedagogy and technology. Yes it should always be about learning but to transform your classroom you need to understand what the device can do and connect it to learning. Without this there will not be meaningful learning for your students. Teachers need to be supported in this quest and have the opportunity to explore the device and its capabilities in order to transform learning with technology. It’s the sandpit approach first, let them play, let them discover then target professional learning for them.
For me this is what is at the core of the TPACK model. In order for the classroom to be transformed by technology teachers need the knowledge of the technology itself. To an extent it is just as much about the device/technology and what it can do. The TPACK model highlights the need to blend all three elements together in order to impact learning. I think it is very naive to not consider the technology and how to use it, just as much as it is to say we all need to be a paperless classroom. This is what makes conferences like Teach Tech Play so powerful. It blends all of these things into meaningful learning opportunities for teachers. It isn’t all about the device, it’s about the device, pedagogy and content which equals learning. You need to see the possibilities of how this can enhance learning for students, without it you will never integrate technology into your classroom.
How do you get that blend?
For me it’s about getting these things right for change management.
It starts with the culture of your school. Does your school encourage and build capacity of staff? Does it give staff autonomy over their learning? Do staff collaborate and share their successes? Failures? Do staff have a common goal they are trying to achieve about learning?
Are your school structures adaptive and do they allow for collaborative and innovative practice?
I’m not talking about the technology type, it is an investment in human capital. Do you have the support of learning champions – staff and students that can guide, challenge and motivate teachers? Do they have time to support you?
Do you have a leader in EdTech that is setting the tone for continued improvement and high expectations for digital learning. Do they have a vision? Are they building capacity of teachers? Are they getting people excited? Are they resourcing it? Are they supportive?
Is there targeted professional learning for teachers around technical knowledge and connecting the dots of pedagogy, content and technology. Is it planned, intentional and ongoing – it never stops, is it individually tailored to each teachers needs and wants. Does it recognise that all teachers need different support and guidance. Is it building the skills of teachers?
Get these things right and you may just change your school. Remember it’s about the blend of technology knowledge, pedagogy knowledge and content knowledge. Don’t put one in front of the other, you need equal understanding of each to impact and improve learning.