Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Developing UC in Teachers

Products, Process and People

In my previous blog entry The Unconscious Integration of ICT into the Classroom I discussed the need for us to be Unconsciously Competent - UC.

So how do we become UC? What is the process? (Question: What type of competency question is this?)

Because we are all at different stages of competency we need products and processes in place that meet the needs of the individual person.

One process that will address this need is:
1)      Introduction of New or Emerging Technology (NET) to staff
2)      Self-Assessment of competency in the New or Emerging Technology
3)      Access products that will develop the specific skills required by the individual
4)      Practise

Products that will address the needs of the individual are Just-In-Time tutorials (JIT-t). JIT-t allow individuals to learn anytime, anywhere and at any pace. There are basically three types of JIT-t:
1)      Text based (text books, hand outs, blogs, etc.) JIT-tt
2)      Audio based (podcasts, audio CDs, etc.) JIT-at
3)      Video based (podcasts, screencasts, etc.) JIT-vt

Now that we have an idea of the process and products we need to put the right people in place to develop the tutorials. We need to encourage teachers who are working at the CC or UC levels to build capacity in their schools.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

The Unconscious Integration of ICT into the Classroom

The Unconscious Integration of ICT into the Classroom
UC the ICT Continuum has come to an end.

Information and Communication Technology (ICT) should not be an add on. It should be unconsciously integrated into the curriculum and it should be more effective, easier and sustainable for both the teacher and the student. If it isn't... don't use it.

Before we discuss ICT and the Classroom let's look at our knowledge. Most of us know nothing about elementary particles. That is, you don't know what you don't know. This is referred to as Unconsciously Incompetent.  Many people are UI when it comes to Web 2.0 tools.

Now if I were to say to you: "two elementary particles are quarks and gluons"  you now know what you don't know. In this case you are Consciously Incompetent. That is, you are aware of what you don't know. Many of us are CI when it comes to Web 2.0 tools. We know that the read-write web consists of the following: blogs, podcasting, RSS feeds, wikis, social networking, twitter, social bookmarking and photo sharing. so you are aware of what you don't know.

After doing a Google search or watching:
•       Video- RSS in Plain English

you now know what you know. That is, you are now aware of your knowledge and hence you are Consciously Competent. Most people are CC with word processing, emailing, web browsing and other ICT tools.

What you need to do is get to the next level: Unconsciously CompetentThat is, you become unaware of what we are doing. It is like breathing... we do it, we control it, but we're not aware that we are doing until we stop and think about it. It is also like walking, riding a bike or driving a car. Many of us are at this stage when corresponding with others using email. We don't ask: "Mmmm... how should I send a quick note out to all my staff?" We simply send an email and don't think of things like... "What do I press to start a new email? What does CC mean? What is 'subject'?"

When we think about planning a lesson or activity and ask: "I've got to build some ICT into this lesson. These students are in grade 9... mmm. What ICT should they be able to do?" This is CC and this is good but what is best is that you don't plan the lesson or activity around ICT. The ICT should be integrated into the lesson because this the best practice. Don't ask: "What is the best way to plan a trip to Algonquin Park?" Instead ask: "What do we need for a trip Algonquin park?" The planning of the trip can be done in many ways. If you are CC you might send out emails, make some phone calls and perhaps even set up a website so that everyone involved can give suggestions and comments. But if you are UC then you would simply set up a Wiki invite participants and go for it.

If you are operating at the UC level your questions are fundamentally different. You ask questions like "What colour of wallpaper do I want?" not "What do I need to wallpaper?"

Typically with ICT you are trying to communicate with technology. So the UC question is "What information do I want to communicate?" not "What technology do I use?" nor "How do I communicate the information?"

How do we get from UI to CI to CC and then to UC? Going from UI to CI requires us to read or hear about new and provocative concepts. To get from CI to CC requires us to learn. Going from CC to UC requires that we practise what we learn and practise what we teach.

It should be noted that certain individuals resist the change from UI to CI because they refuse to acknowledge or accept the relevance and benefit of a particular skill or ability. This cognitive bias robs them of the metacognitive ability to realize the benefits of change. As Darwin said, "ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge".

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Building Capacity

Integrating Communication Technologies into the Classroom

I believe that we need to model promising teaching practices. If we want teachers to use Differentiated Instruction, unconsciously integrate technology, use commonly accepted assessment practices, etc. then we must practise what we teach. I have to demonstrate that a new process is expeditious, easy to implement and more effective.

If doing this takes too much time or is too hard for me then it will definitely be too burdensome for the teacher who is already overwhelmed with split classes, new curriculum and too many new initiatives to count.

Initially, almost any new process takes more time and effort than the existing process. The payoff in time and effort will not occur until the teacher becomes unconsciously competent with the new process.

A Sense of Purpose
Three key points
  • Networked communication tools are common in the workplace; schools must prepare students to use these tools effectively.
  • Effective communication is required for any literacy and is a keystone in life-long learning.
  • We need to replace outmoded processes not add to them; don't duplicate services.
Integrating Communication Technologies
So what are the advantages of integrating communication technologies (Web 2.0 tools)?
  • They are designed to promote collaborative and constructivist learning.
  • They promote creativity and address individual student needs.
  • They encourage communication beyond the walls of the classroom.
  • They minimize the need for specialized software and hardware.
  • They permit learning outside traditional classroom and laboratory spaces.
  • They prepare students for new and emerging technologies (NET).
The Process, Product and People
We now need to reach out to lead teachers who are aware of emerging technologies and understand their importance. They understand that these new technologies are authentic and effective but they need support in integrating them effectively into the curriculum.

We can do this via inservices or workshops and support these initiatives with Just-In-Time video tutorials. These lead teachers can then support teachers in their schools with the same inservices, workshops and Just-In-Time video tutorials.

As an aside: Earlier in this post I said "don't duplicate services." What I meant by this is that we shouldn't have face-2-face planning meetings AND wikis. We shouldn't have paper and pencil quizzes and online quizzing. We need to learn to use Web 2.0 tools effectively so that they replace outmoded or ineffective tools.

Learning is influenced more by the instructional strategy than technology

Here is an important snippet from an article by Mohamed Ally of Athabasca University:

There is ongoing debate about whether it is the use of a particular delivery technology or the design of the instruction that improves learning (Clark, 2001; Kozma, 2001). It has long been recognized that specialized delivery technologies can provide efficient and timely access to learning materials; however, Clark (1983) has claimed that technologies are merely vehicles that deliver instruction, but do not themselves influence student achievement. As Clark notes, meta-analysis studies on media research have shown that students gain significant learning benefits when learning from audio-visual or computer media, as opposed to conventional instruction; however, the same studies suggest that thereason for those benefits is not the medium of instruction, but the instructional strategies built into the learning materials. Similarly, Schramm (1977) suggested that learning is influenced more by the content and instructional strategy in the learning materials than by the type of technology used to deliver instruction.
- Mohamed Ally
Athabasca University

I heartily agree with this article. We have to use technology in very creative ways, "promote higher-order thinking, link new information to old, use the students' metacognitive abilities" (Ally, 2009) and use the computer in ways that address its strengths:
1.      Speed
2.      Reliability
3.      Flexibility
4.      Accuracy
5.      Storage Capacity

For example:
Previously you might give oral instructions supplemented with a paper handouts for task or assignment. Now you can record your instructions (audio or video)5 and put all handouts online5. Students can then access your oral instructions3,5 and the handout3,5 in a timely fashion1. Some students may need to review all handouts and oral instructions while others may only review one or two these resources1,3. Another benefit is that your online resources are easily changed as information needs to be added, removed or corrected1,3,4. Now all students are getting the same message2.

1-Speed; 2-Reliability; 3-Flexibility; 4-Accuracy; 5-Storage Capacity

This is just one example of how the computers could be used. Please share your ideas on how we can use computers in effective ways.

Please share your comments by replying to this blog posting.

Click Here!

A quick first post...
Click Here to find out more
.... arrrrrh!

One of the things that the novice does when making a web page is use the phrase: "Click Here". Here is an example: Click Here to read William Shakespeare's Hamlet. This can be very confusing when you have "click here" multiple times. Consider these two passages:

Click here to read Romeo and Juliet and then click here to read about William Shakespeare. Now click here to find out about West Side Story and click here to read about the playright Arthur Laurents. Finally click here to find out what a graphic organizer is then click here to see how to compare and contrast the main characters... Romeo & Juliet and tony & Maria.
After reading Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare and watching West Side Story by Arthur Laurents use a graphic organizer to compare and contrast the main characters... Romeo and Juliet and Tony & Maria.

So the moral of this tale is: if you find yourself typing "click here" pause and reflect on how better to do it.

See also Don't use "click here" as link text and Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 1.0