I just returned from the National Association of Biology Teachers (NABT) conference in Memphis, TN where I attended many excellent sessions and gave one workshop myself on applying technology to biology teaching. I had a great group of 60 (mostly) secondary school teachers who were enthusiastically interested in applying web 2.0 tools to their teaching.
In my workshop, we talked about technology use in the classroom (they mostly vented about ‘no time’, ‘no money’, ‘too difficult’) and I gave them an overview of web 2.0 tools and what they (and their students) might/could do with them. Then we broke into small groups so that they could try their hand at creating a wiki, recording a podcast, and delving into Second Life. Lots of fun, discussion, and chaos – as any good learning environment should have. But I did come away with a nagging concern that, ultimately, I had not done enough to give them a road map for continuing on the journey once they left the nurturing space of a conference filled with like-minded individuals.
Fast forward to this morning when I read Grainne Conole‘s article “New Schemas for Mapping Pedagogies and Technologies” from this week’s assigned CCK08 reading. This one really spoke to me – got me thinking – and I wished I read it before I went down to Memphis!
Among other things, I really like her 3-dimensional model for mapping technology tools to pedagogical goals (see image above).
This works for me and I think it would have worked well with those 60 enthusiastic teachers in my workshop. I’m afraid the plethora of clever Web 2.0 tools I rolled out for them must have felt a bit like trying to drink out of a firehose. But if, next time, I could get them to think about the various learning objectives in their courses in the context of a model like this (and ultimately, to take a look at their course as whole in light of such a model), I suspect it would start making more sense.
So, for instance, rather than just suggest they assign student groups to build a wiki as their group’s output, encourage them to thoughtfully consider the goals of the assignment in relationship to what the tools can do. Do the content knowledge and desired learning outcomes for the project call for individual or social interactions? Do they require passive or active learning? Are they more informational in nature or experiential? If the learning at hand is all about social and collaboration, then a wiki is indeed a good tool. Have the group work together to build a wiki as the group output – many hands collaborating, whole greater than the sum of its parts. If the learning at hand is really more about the individual’s reflection, then a wiki is not the best tool for the job.
And, of course, each of these dimensions is a continuim so a blog could be very far to the “top” on the “individual/social” dimension (if it’s an individual student keeping an online journal) or it could be very far to the “bottom” (if all students in the class are commenting on the blog entries and a good conversation is heating up).
I like this. But now I have a question for my fellow CCK08 travelers – what are we shooting for here? Ultimately, what are we encouraging teachers to do? Do we want to shoot for regular bouncing around on this 3D spectrum, offering some info, some experience; some individual, some social; some passive, some active – so that there is a healthy range and variety in a given course experience? Or do we instead encourage discovering an optimal coordinate spot on the pedagogical framework for each desired learning outcomes and design student work accordingly?