Course 1, Week 4: Used to have a little, now I have a lot

What exactly does “tech-rich learning” mean? Is there a Likert scale for the richness of the tech we use in our teaching? Does it mean there is a little or a lot of tech in our lessons? Without a clear understanding of this question, I first sought a definition. IGI Global defined technology-rich learning as, “The purposeful integration of appropriate technology into student learning to enhance motivation and active engagement in learning processes.” This makes sense to me. In our reading, we’re thinking about how to appropriately use technology with our students by first thinking of the learning objectives and what we want our students to learn. In the past, I have explored new technology with my students by trying them out. It was more of a technology for technology’s sake. Now I try to use technology so it will improve the learning outcomes. For example, I have a student diagnosed on the Autism spectrum who I’m working with on improving how he treats others. In addition to reading a book on manners with him, he is also creating a digital copy of the story with iMovie. He is taking pictures of the book and narrating it. By using this technology, it will help him be actively engaged with the ideas in the book and it is highly motivating to him. Once he completes the digital story, he will be able to save a copy in his Google Drive and access it for future episodes when he is not being kind or respectful to others.

Another topic I am considering this week is the possibility of having to teach from a distance. With all the hoopla about teaching and learning online, things are getting a bit confusing to me. It seems now any teacher is going to be qualified to teach online and this is concerning to me. Penelope Adams Moon, the Director of Online Learning Strategy at the University of Washington tweeted about my concern on March 4th. She said it clearly and concisely-the emergency situation of schools closing and teachers needing to provide instruction online is only a stop-gap measure to deliver their instruction and it is not the same as online teaching. In response to her tweet, D. Christopher Brooks, Ph.D. proposed the idea this could be an opportunity for teachers effected to be more open to online learning in the future and lead to long term change. I find myself considering the silver lining in this stressful time we are experiencing.

This week, the focus of our reading from Living with New Media was Geeking Out. The authors defined it as, “an intense commitment to or engagement with media or technology, often one particular media property, genre, or type of technology. Geeking out involves learning to navigate esoteric domains of knowledge and practice and participating in communities that traffic in these forms of expertise. It is a mode of learning that is peer-driven, but focused on gaining deep knowledge and expertise in specific areas of interest.” (p. 28) I reflect on my students’ practices and I can’t think of an example of how they show Geeking Out. Possibly this is an engagement that will soon make its debut among the second graders.

The authors go one to explain how Geeking Out can be social, “Just as in the case of messing around, geeking out requires the time, space, and resources to experiment and follow interests in a self-directed way. Furthermore, it requires access to specialized communities of expertise. Contrary to popular images of the socially isolated geek, almost all geeking out practices we observed are highly social and engaged, although not necessarily expressed as friendship-driven social practices. ” (p.28)

Reading about Geeking Out and the support people reach out for when in that type of situation reminds me of learning to play World of Warcraft (WOW). My support started with my children. They tutored me on downloading the game, basic key commands, and such. Once I was away from them and I had more complicated questions about the game, I started searching for answers online-the game help page, Youtube, and Reddit. I discovered Youtube videos of expert players completing the tasks I was struggling with. When I mentioned this to my kids, they responded with answers like “of course.” To them, Youtube was an obvious place to find answers whereas I’m behind in this learning curve and I was surprised and delighted to find such a great resource.

In the section about Feedback and Learning, a teenager doing writing for said, “It’s something I can do in my spare time, be creative and write and not have to be graded,” because, “you know how in school you’re creative, but you’re doing it for a grade so it doesn’t really count?” This makes me wonder about the transfer of learning in school to her hobby of writing for the online role-playing. I constantly struggle to get my 7-year-old students to recognize they should remember to take what I’m teaching them about writing in our small-group back to the classroom and use in their every day writing assignments in class.

As an aside, the article mentions Myspace several times so I decided to do a little research to find out if people are really using it. I found out Myspace is still a thing! It seems music is now the main topic. I signed up and searched for my old account and found it’s still there. Unfortunately, I couldn’t log into my old account. I’m not sure how Myspace fits into my social media scrolling but maybe there are a few minutes I can find to check out the latest pop culture.

Photo by Gil Ribeiro on Unsplash 
Photo by Hello I'm Nik 🍌 on Unsplash

One thought on “Course 1, Week 4: Used to have a little, now I have a lot”

  1. Dear Holly,

    Thank you for such a great post! You’ve mentioned a student who has autism – we have a student with this diagnosis as well. I believe tech tools are one of the ways to attract their attention. We are trying to get him motivated by some activities and it isn’t easy. Teachers working with similar students need special preparation. In our case, we are using Book Creator. He can type sentences or use voice to text features to record his text. In some cases, tech tools are really helpful for working with students who have autism diagnosed. How old are your students? Are you using any other digital tools with the special student? What tools have you found really helpful?

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