Can a classroom be considered a 21st-Century learning environment without internet access?
For many of our students, it seems impossible to imagine a life without internet. In school, if it's not accessed a 1:1 device, it is at the very least via a teacher's computer or computer lab. The more we experience the power of digital resources, the more we rely on them to support meaningful learning. The question now is how much do we rely on the internet as a tool?
What happens when the internet goes down? Does learning stop?
In the age of digital access and connection, we need to do more than simply use technology in the classroom, we need to command it. Learning cannot cease because the internet is down. It is "setbacks" like these, that reveal a serious challenge in the world of education. Is technology being relied on to teach, or are teachers using it as a method to enhance their classroom learning experiences?
When we assess the quality of technology integration, it is almost impossible to not mention the SAMR model. While many in the world of Edtech are quick to criticize the Substitution Level, I asked Dr. Puentedura his thoughts via Twitter on the topic, and he had this to say:
@TheTechRabbi It can be - S won’t significantly impact student outcomes, but can serve as a basis for higher levels, help reach other goals
— Ruben R. Puentedura (@rubenrp) January 22, 2015
For many educators, SAMR is the holy grail, a model that validates us. Every educator wants to feel they "redefine" student learning, and there is something about just being a "sub" that carries a stigma.
When I look at models such as SAMR, or TPACK, I see models that are about technology and teachers, but have very little to do with students and their learning experiences. My criticism against Substitutive technology tasks is not due to their lack of meaningfulness, instead, due to their fragility. When we use technology in a substitutive manner, then the entire learning experience relies on the stability of the tool. Take game based and web 2.0 platforms like Kahoot, Quizlet, and Socrative for example. They can be engaging, effective, fun all while supporting visual learners, give students a sense of control, and contain a competitive element to them.
The challenge with substitutive technology is that if it doesn't function as we intended, crashing, freezing, or restarting, then so does the learning.
These platforms have their time and place, and who doesn't love a game based exit ticket instead of a worksheet. Still, if this how we view technology integration, then I think we are doing a disservice to all parties involved. It is for this reason that we as educators should be challenging students to create dynamic and complex products of learning instead of simply consuming information via a digital platform.
Substitution has its place in the classroom, but it should be more than an isolated experience. Instead, it should be a stepping stone for meaningful learning to be achieved.