Students have been making stuff on computers for decades. PowerPoint presentations, posters, typed essays - using computers to produce content in the classroom is not new.
We know that more is possible. How can we use digital technology in more engaging, more innovative and more effective ways?
For a start, if you're familiar with the SAMR framework, these "traditional" computer activities are typically examples of Substitution. They don't exactly harness the creative potential of digital technology - they just replace a pen-and-paper activity.
Even when we use SAMR to plan innovative and transformative activities, however, we still risk missing a massive opportunity.
The opportunity is to foster students' critical thinking about how to get the best out of digital technology.
The traditional activities tend to be simply a means to an end, without stepping back and thinking critically about the tool itself.
For example, if students were encouraged to choose the best tool for the activity, would they choose the tools they're often assigned? What factors might they consider? If the tool must be "fit for purpose", can the students clearly identify what is the purpose? Or who is the target audience for the content they create?
After they've created the content on the computer, whether it's a PowerPoint presentation or a poster - let's call it the digital outcome - do the students pause and evaluate whether it's good? Can they even articulate what "good" might look like?
We can be more intentional about the digital tasks we give our students when we invest time in the design process. Encourage students to consider these questions when designing the digital outcome, to keep them in mind throughout the development process, and to use them to evaluate the finished product.
We move from simply creating digital outcomes to a more intentional framework of designing and developing digital outcomes.
Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes
Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes (DDDO) is one of the two strands of New Zealand's DTHM curriculum (Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko), introduced in 2018. New Zealand schools are required to integrate DTHM across all curriculum areas, in all year levels from Year 1 to Year 10.
In our work supporting schools around Aotearoa to implement DTHM, we've noticed that there's still some uncertainty amongst teachers about what it should look like. We'll cover this in more detail in another post - for now, be reassured that DTHM can be meaningfully woven through your programme, taking opportunities to incorporate concepts and terminology from the new strands as appropriate. You don't have to suddenly wedge new Digital Technology units into your already-full programmes!
Examples across the curriculum
Our good friends at impactED have produced an excellent resource and made it available to teachers. It includes suggestions for how to use eight online tools in different curriculum areas. The suggestions were created by experienced curriculum experts (you might recognise the contributor's name on the Maths & Statistics page!)
If you're looking for inspiration to break out of Substitution and Augmentation in the SAMR model, this resource could also give you ideas for Modification and Redefinition activities to try in your classroom.
You can check out impactED's other brilliant resources here: impacted.co.nz/us-in-action
Support for schools
The team here at Think e-Learning provide tailored workshops and ongoing support for schools integrating digital technology. This includes introducing teachers to the DTHM curriculum and helping them to integrate it into their teaching programmes in meaningful ways.
We can provide Ministry-funded PLD, or engage directly with schools for PLD and ICT leadership mentoring.
Get in touch if you'd like us to support your school!