Last summer I wrote a post called Makers and Connectors. At the time I was thinking about how we “do” edtech. This goes along with a far earlier post called 9 Spaces for Technology in Classrooms that looked at different kinds of lessons.
While I think that both of these are pretty good, as with any model, continuing use and maturity holds them up to scrutiny. These days I’m looking at technology use in classrooms with a different set of eyes. I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at my own practice and doing a lot of reading of other classroom blogs. I’m looking these days at four main models of technology use in classrooms:
Accessing / Curating: In this model, technology is mostly used to access information from around the globe. As well in this model, curating and improving the web through social bookmarking and tagging is also a main component.
Sharing: Technology use based on sharing is just that. The artefacts that are shared can be anything: blogs, photos, videos, animations, etc. What is important in this model is the fact that things are produced and shared with others. This model allows students to have a voice and share who they are with the world.
Connecting: In this model, the main purpose for using technology is to form communities and connections. Discussions, communications, building communities and gaining the perspectives of others is what a lot of time and energy is concentrated on.
Making: Just as with any of the other models, making can take many different forms. Digital artefacts can be produced such as blogs, videos, code and photos. But making also includes physical things such as robots, models, prototypes and experiments.
I don’t believe that any of these models exist in a “pure” form. Outside of single lessons which might focus on a skill or tool, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a classroom with a long term single focus. That being said, I believe that the models focussed on accessing/curating and sharing are by far the most commonly used. Blogging is still probably the most commonly used technology in classrooms and while it could be argued that it is a “making” activity, the reason behind blogging is not usually to make something, but instead to help students to share who they are with the world. The reason behind blogging relates more to sharing than anything else.
While I believe that there is value in every one of these models, I don’t think that it is difficult to see how strongly schools and classrooms are biased towards certain models and away from others. Balance is important. Lesson plans, courses and units need to be designed to take advantage of all of the ways that technology can be used in classrooms. Changing a model that is already settling in a relatively new field is not easy. Professional development dollars, school purchases, technology development plans all need to take into account wider model than has been common. If we don’t manage to widen the gaze of edtech it will only achieve a portion of it’s potential to benefit students.