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Revisiting Technology-Enhanced Instruction

By Kimberly Lilly and Michael Putman
 | Aug 11, 2017

Tech InstructionIn thinking about the upcoming school year, we believe most teachers would agree that our students, especially tweens and teens, have been using technology all summer long: reading and writing posts to Instagram, texting, watching videos on YouTube, or scouring the Internet for information about Zendaya or Tom Holland. This would be consistent with a recent Pew Research Center study that found 92% of teens are online daily. It has also been reported that tweens and teens actually use screen media for an average of over four and six hours per day, respectively. While a large percentage of that time is spent on television, the report identified distinct patterns of use. While both groups indicated a preference for watching online videos, tweens were more likely to play mobile games, and teens engaged with social media daily.

Leveraging technology for learning

Despite students’ inclination to informally use technology to read, write, and communicate, a recent survey found a large percentage of teachers use it for drill, review, or practice exercises. Given our roles as teachers, it is important we move beyond drill and practice and look for ways to leverage the skills and engagement exhibited by students with instruction incorporating authentic uses of technology. In other words, potentially leveraging technology for higher level thinking or to produce an artifact—something that is still not widely practiced. This requires moving beyond simply incorporating technology into our instruction to thinking about how it can be transformative. Doing so will effectively prepare students for success in the digital world.

We know many of you are already planning activities for the students that will soon enter your doors. Yet, the last few weeks (or hours) of summer may offer opportunities to reflect on the ways students use technology for creation, rather than consumption. Both Bloom’s (Revised) Digital Taxonomy and the SAMR model are helpful in this process. Thinking about how you create opportunities for higher level thinking or transformative instruction will likely lead to authentic applications of technology that involve your students in reading, writing, and communicating for real purposes and audiences. Considering the two simultaneously may help rejuvenate previous lessons as you consider both the level of thinking, as well as the related purpose of technology (see discussions of this here and here).

Once you have thought about the “big picture,” it may be time to revisit the tools you are currently using. While there are many tools that remain relevant, including PadletVoiceThread, and Storybird, this site presents resources directly applicable to Bloom's and SAMR. Given the popularity of Instagram, here are a number of uses for the popular social networking tool in the classroom. Pablo allows students to add a phrase over a picture, which can be useful in creating pictures or memes to share on Instagram or Snapchat. For the YouTubers in your class, Biteable is a tool (similar to Voki and others) students can use to create animated videos from scratch or from an editable, premade template. Willing to try Twitter? Check out this presentation that provides a number of authentic, creative uses.

Join the conversation

Rethinking our use of technology is not always easy, but social media can be helpful. If you are on Twitter, check out @JenRoberts1, @techlearning, @wiobyrne, and @Alex_Corbitt for a few ideas. We’d also like to hear from you: How will you use technology in your classroom this year? Which apps or tools do you plan to integrate? Share your thoughts on Twitter using #newtechthisyear. We look forward to seeing your questions and ideas!

Kimberly LillyKimberly Lilly is a seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher in the Onslow County School System of North Carolina. She has nine years of teaching experience, holds a bachelor's degree in middle grades education, and is currently pursuing her master's degree at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Mike PutnamS. Michael Putman, PhD, is a professor and the chairperson of the Reading and Elementary Education Department at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. His areas of research include the impact of teacher preparation and professional development on teacher self-efficacy; student dispositions toward online inquiry; and the effective use of technology within teaching practices.

This article is part of a series from the International Literacy Association Technology in Literacy Education Special Interest Group (TILE-SIG).

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