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Does education really need technology?

There may be many with a view on what makes for a good lesson.  Most would not argue with the ideas clearly expounded upon by Hattie and Yates (1) that a good lesson starts with an initial review of knowledge, moves on to a formal presentation, guided practice, initial feedback, independent practice and a follow-up review.  In terms of my own practice this is a model that I follow.  Not via any particular tools because I know that my target audience need variety and must not settle into any type of formulaic process.  Thus, I follow the steps but use different methods.
Far be it for me to claim that this effective lesson cannot be achieved without technology.  Having started my teaching career over 20 years ago I know that it is possible to be an effective practitioner and deliver a lesson where progress is made using old-fashioned methods that may well have included some worksheets created on the trusty (rusty?) Banda machine.  Nor am I here to advocate that this process is more effectively achieved with technology.  Down that path lies failure.  Technology is not a panacea; it will not make lessons more effective, per se.  In fact, if technology use is the only focus, then that good lesson is on shaky ground.  Solid foundations lie in methodology and technology can have a part to play in this.  Technology, to a certain extent, plays a supporting role. 
Thus if I break down the different steps on the path to a good lesson, behind each step I am thinking methodology.  My guiding question is what do I want my students to achieve at each step and what do I, as the teacher, need to know about my students' learning at each step?   I am focused on my methodology, on the teaching and learning.  Often when I consider these questions I am aware that there are technological tools that will enable me to achieve my goals more successfully.   For example (apologies - as an MFL teacher, I am afraid my examples are all language based)

1. Initial review of knowledge.  

I want to ascertain my students' prior knowledge of the conditional. I can go down the route of a quick Q&A in class, or a worksheet.  These are all good paths to choose.  Or, I can consider a Kahoot  or Quizizz.  My students can focus on this during the lesson (or even before the lesson) and I can harvest valuable responses that will allow me to guide my first proper lesson on the topic with my students with greater insight into the variables.
 

2. Formal presentation.

My focus here is to deliver the content in manageable chunks so that my students feel confident. There would definitely be an element of graded delivery whereby students could only proceed to the next 'chunk of information' once they had demonstrated that they had understood the first.  There are a variety of methods I could deploy here.  I am not averse to presenting using my IWB or through teacher-talk. However, I believe, in this instance I will be better served (as will my students) by a video and questions which I can set up using Edpuzzle.   Students can progress at their own pace.
 

3. Guided practice

In the acquisition of new vocabulary or in learning a new tense or mood guided practice (or More Of The Same -MOTS) is key.  Here, perhaps more than other steps, one has to consider different learning styles.  I am all too aware that students value the opportunity to do drill exercises in ways that they know will be beneficial to their learning.  At this stage of the learning process, many students know how they learn most effectively and if this is writing and re-writing then opportunities to do this must be given.  Naturally,  my role as a teacher is to provide other methods that might also prove beneficial and for me, nothing does this as well as Quizlet. (read more...). Such online tools provide excellent guided practice giving students excellent feedback on what they do and do not know.  
 
 
4. Initial Feedback
At this stage, assessment of work carried out online in the guided practice phase can be achieved more effectively and speedily with a quick view of feedback data.  Nonetheless, other methods are just as viable and I would not discount gleaning information via worksheets or a Q&A session with mini-whiteboards.  Given the content, the time of day and the type of class I might look at a more collaborative task involving Magic Whiteboards.  These are all valid methods but I might be better served using technology.  The key here is fast, personalised feedback relevant to each pupil that allows me to understand how to proceed to ensure I get the best outcome for me students.  I might consider  Kahoot, Quizalize, EdPuzzle or a tool such as Nearpod (read more) This latter really allows for some deeper questioning and thus yields finer detail as to the headway my students are making. 
  

5. Independent practice

Much of the technology use mentioned here is supporting the teaching and learning process.  Dr Ruben Puentedura's much cited but no less important SAMR model of technology (2) use in education can really come into its own.  Puentedura offers a model of how technology might impact on what happens in the classroom.  At this stage, independent practice, the tasks that students can undertake are modifications and redefinitions of what has previously been completed before technology was available.    Technology allows students to collaborate much more and using animation tools or iMovie, students can discuss, collaborate and create  items such as explainer videos or create their own kahoot for others.  Using the question feature in google classroom would provide a perfect forum for students to practice new content.

6. Follow-up review

At this stage, technology allows for activities that are not so easy to achieve in traditional ways.  Creating a blog means that students' work is created for an audience that they might not know and this has a positive impact on what they can achieve.  Of course, peer assessment is possible on paper, however using Versoapp means that students can write for a large audience and their peers can assess the work in a much more visible way that encourages honest and direct feedback and provides the teacher with easy opportunities to oversee, guide and motivate.

This overview of technology use in the classroom hopefully demonstrates that technology is not a stand-alone.  Technology should be paired with education methodology to create pedagogically sound lessons that support learners and teachers.  Education does need technology; like Fred and Ginger, Torvill and Dean, chocolate and orange, they go together.  The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.  For this reason teachers have to learn about education AND technology in order to become better practitioners.

 
 
 
 
1. Hattie, J & Yates, G. (2014) Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Oxon: Routledge
2. Ruben R Puentedura's blog http://hippasus.com/blog/

Picture credits:
Tablet: https://pixabay.com/en/tablet-digital-technology-device-791050/
Fred & Ginger - https://www.flickr.com/photos/slightlyterrific/5347440373


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