I’ve been doing some thinking lately about the possibilities of using technology in classrooms. I’m sure I’ve missed some, but I’ve come up with nine different spaces of technology use that I’ve commonly seen in classrooms.
The nine are:
- Content Creation
- Research / Content Use
- Data Collection
- Tool Use
- Design / Engineering
Collaboration: Assignments that focus on collaboration and collaborative skills. These might involve a number of tools such as wikis, chat, and Skype. The focus on these assignments is often on having a collaborative space or time which allows for an exchange of information or for planning.
Research / Content Use: This is a common first step into the world of technology that many teachers take. It may simply involve using websites or information that has already been created by someone else. Using videos from Youtube, subscribing to podcasts and looking up something on Google Earth would also fall into this category of using information or content that has been produced by someone else.
Content Creation: These can be any form of representation and are a common second step into the world of technology. The content created may be video, audio, text, still picture, animation, etc. With the tools that we have available to us such as Youtube, it has also become much easier to share the content that is produced with an audience.
Communication: This type of assignment often involves one channel or tool at a time and the focus may be purely on information exchange. Using Skype to talk to another classroom somewhere in the world is an example of this. Doing an email exchange. Sending podcasts back and forth between classes or posting a photo of the day with another class are all projects that focus on the aspect of communication.
Data Collection: In the last year or so, data collection projects have become more common and easier to do. While they have been around for a long time through things like the Global Grocery project and others, they were difficult to do in the past as they often required filling out a lot of forms and emailing them in for them to be formatted into spreadsheets and databases. The recent advent of tools like Google forms have made these easier.
Simulation: There are many types of simulations, from using video games in class to performing virtual dissections and online experiments. Blog exchanges between two characters from history are also examples of simulations as is using a virtual world such as Second Life.
Skill: Skill and drill. Reader Rabbit, flash cards online, software that teaches you to type, etc.
Tool Use: This is a lesson or a course that teaches someone to use a tool as its main aim. Teaching students to use Excel or Flash or Photoshop are examples.
Design / Engineering: I would call this type of technology use in classrooms fairly new. This first of all might be things like autocad or other design software. It also might include Lego Mindstorms Robotics. I think it also includes software such as Scratch and Phun. While some of these might arguably fall under simulation, I think that as an entire class of lessons, they are different from others.
How these nine spaces of technology use in classrooms actually look can be very different from this list. While a single lesson (or even several) can focus on a single category ( Tool Use: “over the next week we are going to learn how to use Flash”) it is much more common that at least two of these items get combined (Tool Use and Content Creation: “over the next week we are going to learn how to use Flash and publish the animations we make on to Youtube)
As well as the number of categories that are worked with, we also need to think about how they are combined. in some instances, one category simply leads into another:
This might happen where one (or a series) of lessons leads into a second part of a project.
Over the course of a unit of study or a period of time, a number of these spaces can be used, combined and recombined in ever more complex ways to allow for new and different types of learning to emerge in a classroom.
That is really the idea behind this post.
I am wondering about new spaces. Which spaces am I missing? What is new and different that we have not seen much of? How can these ideas be combined in ways that have not commonly been accomplished? What spaces, as an edtech community, have we been ignoring? The same can be thought of when a certain subject area is brought in to this mix. While combining tool use and content creation in an area such as language arts is becoming quite common, it is far less so when the focus is on math or science.
There are dozens of variables that can be examined along with these spaces. There are new pieces of software that emerge on a constant basis while older pieces fall out of common use; but there is little that is truly new. There have been few things lately that allow for new spaces to emerge or be considered. Are we reaching the limits? If that is true, than change and advancements will no longer come from tools, but instead from pedagogy, school organization and course design.
How, where and when we use these spaces becomes a much more important issue.