Five Transformational Triggers for the Integration of Digital Technology
Transformative applications of digital technology are the holy grail of educators spanning the globe, and yet it is far from easy to achieve...
Moving from the Mundane to the MagnificentFrameworks like SAMR and RAT are incredibly helpful here, but we still need a framework to assist with the top levels of redefinition/transformation of learning through effective uses of digital technologies. SAMMS is a framework that attempts assist with this, by determining exactly what the 'magic ingredients' are that move tech use from the mundane to the magnificent.
Determining these 'ingredients' starts from a position of describing what it is about digital technologies that make them unique, transformative—what is it they facilitate that cannot be replicated with traditional tools? Exactly how do pixels out perform paper? I've been reading a LOT about ICT integration over the last four years in my pursuit of a Master's degree, and throughout my readings I noticed a pattern forming—certain aspects of ICTs that were deemed to make a significant difference in teaching and learning, or to use the academic vernacular, 'unique affordances' ...
So what are the transformative, unique affordances of digital technologies?
Five features or facets of pixels that out perform paper - (SAMMS):
Situated practice (work anywhere)
Accessibility (access to information)
Multi-modality (screen centred creations)
Social networking (syncronous/asyncronous people power)
I've expanded on these categories in another post, here I want to consider what happens when you cross reference these with what I believe are the 5 core digital domains of ICT:
Take the domain of text, most likely this means word processing, (although many typographers and graphic designers might argue with you about that one) but what does working with text look like when it is...
What this is really about is a new kind of literacy as the multimedia devices that now are ubiquitous in our worlds mean that speech and writing are already being pushed to the margins of and replaced by image and others. The once dominant page, especially in terms of the newspaper and the book, is giving way to the screen (Kress, 2005). Let's encourage our kids to illustrate, accentuate, emphasise and embellish their text with image, with sound, with moving images and even video. Generally, I assume that when someone makes the claim that an 'artefact' is 'multimodal', that it's 'multimedia' ie, combining text, image and video, although technically using text and image together is multimodal, I would argue this is only true if the images are illustrations, not just decorations, that's a critical distinction. The imagery should be being used to communicate, to add more meaning, not just make the things look pretty.
Many teachers may yearn nostalgically for the 'good old days' of handwriting & cursive; and while that skill has it's place, it's hard to argue its benefits if the goal is improved writing in terms of making meaning. Revising text that is restricted to (often barely legible) handwritten annotations squeezed into margins or between lines is clearly inferior when entire paragraphs need moving, adjusting, inserting; with edits of this kind the student in question would need to literally rewrite the entire piece. Hardly motivating or conducive to reflective practice.
Cutting/pasting looking up meanings and synonyms, proofreading, all amplify what we can do with text, but transforming means exploiting things like undo button to encourage kids to take more risks; the save as, revert or history options to manage multiple versions of documents; the effective use of styles so that formatting changes can be made to an entire document with one click; smarter uses of (well designed) templates; grab snippets of text from multiple sources and from multiple perspectives, and mash, mix, mend, and remix them into something unique.
Since students can express their thoughts without interruption, they have more time to reflect and respond (Shea, 2003). This ‘peer-based learning’ is characterised by “a context of reciprocity”, (Ito et al, 2008, p 39) where participants don't just contribute, but also comment on, and contribute to the content of others. This transformational practice is already becoming seamlessly integrated into the fabric of the classroom so that dialogue and pupil collaboration can be enhanced and extended, (Garrison, 2004) a cooperative combination of multiple interactions, which is indicative of a new, collaborative pedagogical practice.
Triggers + Domains = TransformationSo, there you have it, transformational practice and here I have only described how this could apply in just one of the five domains. A similar level of transformation can be experienced by the judicious application of effective technology in transformational ways within each of the five domains, across domains and combining several if not all of the triggers.
How do the five transformational tech triggers transform the use of image? audio? video? data? How does this change when we work within and across these domains in ways that are social, accessible, multi-modal, exploiting mutability and situated (can be done almost anywhere)?
How transformational can our use of ICTs be when we work across domains? Merging text, with image; image with audio; video with data; all of them with all of the others?
Aiming for transformative applications of technology can be daunting, if so, it's a good idea to start with amplified practice and add the 5 elements and 5 domains gradually, like ingredients to a cake mixture, the more you add, the more amplified it gets until it becomes transformative. In my experience you will often find that your students will move from amplified into transformative practice quite naturally.