For the sake of this blog, I am going to focus more on what devices themselves can do, so my four C's include:
Creation- Allowing students to use technology for creation purposes allows students to tap their creativity juices for presentations of knowledge learned. There are an unending number of ways this can be done via apps and websites (see this spreadsheet for some of my favorites https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1mbeadniHaSTZDDGh2U5KhqH1KqHiOUdAro0JOyfWDBU/edit?usp=sharing). Opportunities for creation are only limited by the students inability to think creatively and any limitation you as a teacher place on your students. I am a fan of not limiting the students and allowing them to choose how they want to "present." A well written rubric allows a teacher to grade any content in any type of presentation fairly. I prefer one rubric for any presentation styles for a project but Kathy Schrock has a great list of rubrics here http://www.schrockguide.net/assessment-and-rubrics.html that you might find helpful when creating rubrics for yourself.
Consumption- Allowing students to use technology to ascertain large amounts of knowledge gets a bum rap at times. When iPads first came out there was a large vocal group of people that said "all you can do on an iPad is consume" and they were developed for consumption but since their inception, app makers have changed and developed how we view devices. I think the educational community has felt the need to stand up for the iPad so much that many have stopped seeing the value of the use of technology for consumption.
I love the fact that I can read on a device because it is always with me. It is my choice of consumption much of the time, but not always. I also find great value daily of watching Youtube videos to learn more as well. There is great value to me as a teacher and an individual to always have access to information. I even CHOOSE to sometimes read on my iPhone and even create there! There is data out there that says students don't learn as well using a device to read but also some very recent reports that say that isn't always the case. As screen displays continue to improve, I think we will see more and more schools choosing to use e-books and assign work electronically to model to their students the green behavior of a "paper free" classroom.
Curation- According to Beth Kanter, "Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme." (http://www.bethkanter.org/content-curation-101/). While Google does this based on factors we may or may not agree with within a simple search, true curation using a device is driven by a person through research. Teaching our students how to sift through all the topical information available to them on the world wide web is a valuable tool. We are at a place where it is harder to ascertain good sources from bad. We are also at a place where it is unclear whose job it actually is to teach a student how to do good web-based research. How does your school teach your students and teachers how to curate? Does your school force students to use educational databases for their research? Do you teach them how to curate using Google? Do you just accept anything as long as it is cited correctly? This is the area I feel I have a lot of room for growth in.
Connection- One big advantage to technology is that it allows the teacher not to be the only authority in the classroom anymore. So many teachers are connecting with other teachers, writers, authority figures, and leaders for their students to learn more about the topics addressed in their lesson plans. Whether through FaceTime, hangouts, Skype, e-mail, or Twitter posts, teachers are contacting others to knock down the 4 walls of their classrooms and allow students to see beyond their current worlds. Last year I worked with a sixth grade Eastern Civilization social studies teacher while her students were studying the Philippines. We Skyped with a friend of mine that is a teacher and Philippine nationalist. The students loved it! Another valuable tool is allowing students to connect to each other through collaboration. We see shared notes, allowing students to proofread each other's writing, and group projects taking connectivity to a new level that can only be achieved through the use of technology because of the immediate feedback Google drive allows.
So this question begs answering..Are you using all the 4 C's of technology integration in your classroom? Do you see the value of all four? Just like we don't want to limit our student's learning, why limit the tools we place in their hands? We have to be careful in finding the balance of the 4 C's that best meets the needs of our students. We have to be careful not to allow technology to become a babysitter; but when used appropriately as an enhancement to learning, technology offers things to our classroom that have never been available to the teaching profession in the past. I find that exciting because I think we are more likely to teach our students to be lifelong learners now more than ever before, partly because access to information and a constant audience is just so ding dang easy now.
This piece was originally submitted to our community forums by a reader. Due to audience interest, we've preserved it. The opinions expressed here are the writer's own.