Two Lives or One?

Jason Ohler (2010) asks the question, “should we consider to have two lives or one?” (p.9). After all, it is a rarity to see a teenager of today without a mobile device of one kind or another in the palm of their hand ... and it probably wouldn't be much of a stretch to suggest 24/7. Teens may not wake up to a "get and get ready for school" call, but a vibration indicating a new text message and they're stirred from their deepest slumber. "Until recently, one had to sit in front of a computer screen to enter virtual space. This meant that the passage through the looking glass was deliberate and bounded by the time you spend in front of a computer. Now, with a mobile device as portal, one moves into the virtual with fluidity and on the go (Turkle, 2011, p. 160). So with today’s students tethered to their devices for listening to music, texting, accessing the Internet, gaming, taking photos and videos, and social networking, the time is now for us as educators to look for ways to bring this technology into this into our classrooms. “If we don’t understand that schools are exactly the place for kids to learn how to use technology not only effectively and creatively but also responsibly and wisely, then heaven help us all (Ohler, 2010, p. 10).

Closing the Gap:

As Murray (2010) points out, “as the gap between technology devices used in everyday life and those used in schools continues to widen, some schools are beginning to trial mobile devices in an effort to keep pace with technology changes. Innovative teachers are excited by the opportunities and keen to make a difference to student engagement and learning, but many are intimidated by the fast pace of change and the increasing range of technologies available for learning” (p.48). Acknowledging that iPods/iPads “afford teachers and students opportunities to access [multi-media resources] digitally, individually, and in a “just in time” fashion” (Banister, 2010, p. 122), how can we as educators close this gap?

Teacher Development:

Although the following quote is from over a decade ago, it certainly still rings true today. “Computer technology cannot be effectively incorporated into a teacher’s classroom merely as a reaction to its presence or its inclusion in a district technology plan. Each individual teacher needs to build his or her own professional development experiences and have the time reflect upon what he or she has learned so that he or she can effectively incorporate technology into the classroom. Teachers tend to draw upon their own knowledge of what works in the classroom; for that knowledge to include the use of computers, teachers must have experience with them as well as the time to reflect upon the role of computers in the learning process. It is a simplistic view to believe that computers are in and of themselves a catalyst for changes in instructional practice since it disregards the role of teacher development” (Dexter, Anderson, and Becker, 1999).

"It is a challenging time to be a teacher. New policies and changing demographics are making schools more diverse than ever. It is the responsibility of educators today to not only place technology in the hands of students, but to try with their best effort to grasp how to make this technology a part of their continuing learning experiences" (Valstad, 2010, p.66) But perhaps we don't need to look far, but rather, it is by Working Together and Imagining what we can learn from our local 'experts' right here in our own district, that will guide us and support us as we effectively integrate technology together.

The Big Picture:

Let's begin with a vision of the big picuture so we will know where we are going and when we have arrived. The ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) has now created the National Education Technology Standards for administrators, teachers and students to help guide the way in which we embed technology in education.

ISTE's (International Society for Technology in Education)National Education Technology Standards


“Leadership in technology is best illustrated by ISTE’s creation of the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS), first published in 1998. ISTE is now leading the creation of the next generation of NETS. In 1998, it was enough to define what students needed to know about and be able to do with technology. Now, we’re defining what students need to know and be able to do with technology to learn effectively and live productively in a rapidly changing digital world.”
—Don Knezek, ISTE CEO, 2007

Here are the ISTE's standards and performance indicators:

Applying Bloom's Taxonony to Technology:
Kathy Schrock, "providing pedagogically-sound, practical information and ideas for educators" assembled the following Bloomin' iPad a hierarchy of apps based on Bloom's Revised Taxonomy. This taxonomy incorporates good pedagogy that seeks to create meaningful, higher order thinking tasks that utilize technology. Included in Schrock's hierarchy are "free apps that are "content-neutral" to make them usable across the curriculum." To preview each of the apps on the Bloomin' iPad, simply visit her site where each icon is linked to iTunes previews.


Bloom's Revised Taxonomy

On his wiki, Educational Origami, Andrew Churches has also applied Bloom's Revised Taxonomy to technology skills to "account for the new behaviours and actions emerging as technology advances and becomes more ubiquitous." When considering which apps to incorporate with your students it would be useful to consider Churches following quick sheets:

Mobile Devices Facilitate “Good Learning”

Although he recognizes this as subjective topic, Valstad (2010) maintains the following are experiences are good learning. I think we can all agree that these are universally accepted learning processes, regardless of the curriculum, methodology or tools we utilize in our classrooms; however it is certainly easy to see how the flexibility, multi-modality and connectedness of mobile devices applied to the aforementioned higher levels of Churches’ and Schrock’s Bloom’s Revised Digital Taxonomy, can assist us in achieving these:
  1. students collaborating, discovering externalizing, consolidating and concluding about educational material
  2. project-based learning and experimenting, that resembles real world contexts
  3. using multiple sources of information, and integrate technology into learning where applicable
  4. engage students in a learning experience that allows them to face a problem, gain higher-order thinking skills from pursuing the solution (p.65)