George Lucas Educational Foundation

Help! Technology and Learning Objectives

Help! Technology and Learning Objectives

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I have recently been integrating digital technologies frequently in my class. There is no doubt that my learners are more engaged as a result. However, I find they spend a lot of time exploring the many features of a particular technology and in doing so the learning objectives are somewhat compromised. The end product they deliver after using the technology is sub standard and show little indepth learning. I plan to use the flipped classroom approach to upload tutorials of the applications I intend to use in my next class so learners can use and explore them at home. I hope this works. Can anyone help me on this?


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Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

Hi Faiza, from what I can understand about your needs, you might want to check out VoiceThread: https://voicethread.com/. It's easy to use, extremely powerful, inexpensive and makes collaboration easy. You can use pictures or video, kids can comment on each others' work, and it's totally secure. Check it out and let me know what you think...

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

Terrific, let me know what you think, and if you have any questions about using it or designing activities or collaborating with others. It's a terrific app, not free, but totally worth the money, if you can purchase it. If you must have a free solution, let me know, there are other options out there!

M.W.'s picture

While the use of technology is certainly engaging to students, as educators we must ensure that the instructional technology is not only engaging, but beneficial to the learning process.

Faiza Amir's picture

I applied a new strategy in class today and hope that works. I was having difficulty in selecting which technology to use, so I put the question to my learners. I stated the learning objectives and the names of various suitable technologies which my learners had used before. Some frequently while others not so often. I was thrilled to hear the results as they choose tools according to their technical expertise. Only two pairs who had really done some great work with Powtoon choose this application. Others stuck to Movie Maker and Buncee. Yet a third group wanted to experiment with something new so they choose Tablets in combination with Movie Maker. I must state hear that I had spent considerable time grouping/pairing my learners on the basis of their profile. The decision of my learners was a collective one.
So let's see how the lesson works out. I have integrated all the above.

Kevin Jarrett's picture
Kevin Jarrett
Teaching Middle School 'Technology, Engineering & Design' in Northfield, NJ

Faiza, that is fantastic! What are your learning objectives for this activity? How will you know they have achieved them? Does utilizing multiple platforms hinder your ability to assess their knowledge? And do you think they will spend more time with the tool than they will with the content? :) -kj-

Faiza Amir's picture

Hi Kevin, thank you so much your questions keep me focused. These were the very issues troubling me. My learning objectives are:
1. Describe at least any two elements of story writing from a given story text
2. Create a digital story by changing anyone of the elements in the given story.
It is a 90 mins lesson plan. I will be using Google Docs Survey to assess the first objective and the second one will be assessed through the learner outcome, i.e the digital story they create. I am perplexed about assessing individual knowledge for the second objective as it is being done in pairs or groups.
I used multiple platforms as all are suited for my learning objective and this was a way of giving my learners options to choose from. I am a little lost as to how should I assess my learners- it's obviously not the use of the technology i want to assess but the objective. I am very apprehensive that they will be spending more time with the tool than with the content. But I can give them a criteria, like for example number of slides, features per slide, the font style and size etc.
For someone not planning many lessons integrating digital tools I also feel maybe I am using too many in one lesson.
Thanks for the support once again.
Faiza Amir

Roaa's picture

Welcome to Edutopia, It looks like your finding it a helpful resource. I think your idea is great- essentially giving them time to explore and try things out at home. Try giving them something fun to create while exploring- like make up a menu for a restaurant, a travel poster, or something else that maybe doesn't take much in-depth work but allows them to explore the "fun stuff" in technology. I think you can also do a number of things to help the integration of technology. Be sure they have a rubric to follow so they know what you expect including any parts that are technology based. Setting some limits on tech. can help prevent too much play time. For example, 8 Powerpoint slides with at only 4 transition animations or perhaps no more than 3 colors of text and 2 fonts. Of course there are times to let them be creative with fonts, colors, animations and such, but sometimes just naming the font to use will prevent them from toying around for 30 minutes exploring fonts. Setting those kinds of expectations on work will help prevent some of the fidgeting students tend to do with technology.

Faiza Amir's picture

Hi Roaa, I agree setting limits helps makes the learning outcome more substantial as learners focus on using the technology and its features in attaining the the objectives rather than features of the technology alone. Flipped classroom approach is excellent for letting them explore the technology at home. I will take up your suggestion in the next lesson I plan using technology to get my learners to create something exciting and fun.

REHess's picture

I find it important to stay clear about the learning objectives and add technology only when it adds an advantage. One common advantage is student engagement, which improves the learning process. The weakness of current learning technology is that it does not yet integrate with learning assessment. I believe it will in the future and it will make the use of technology critical and not optional.

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