I was fortunate enough to attend the recent AIS IT Managers Conference where Jeff Mao spoke about the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI). I got a lot from his keynote speeches (start and end) but I’d particularly like to focus on his framework for describing use of technology in one’s work. He made a distinction that this framework is descriptive of practice rather than one-off tasks. In this sense, practice-based is better than ability-based (e.g. learner vs. high-skilled) view.
Jeff suitably attributed this to a Dr. something (sorry, I missed to note it down and my quick googling failed to give me the answer).
Substitution – a good example is using projected digitised worksheet instead of printed ones. Using the Interactive Whiteboard as just a whiteboard – or projector screen – is another example.
Augmentation – technology added to your original work practice. For example, I mostly use the Mathsonline to augment my teaching as I direct my students to go there for revision and extra practice.
Modification – some change is done to the practice as a result of available technology. Putting my ICT integrator hat on in collaboration with the Year 9 Commerce teachers, we modified an assessment task on share trading to use a spreadsheet to keep track of their transactions and justification. The spreadsheet performed the calculations (as well as tell them how much more to invest, if any) and facilitated graphing. The task itself remained essentially the same, i.e. the spreadsheet was not part of the assessment criteria…it was a tool for learning, that’s all.
Redefinition – for me the easiest way to explain it is comparing it to the corporate industry’s Business Process Re-engineering as in redefining work practice itself as a result of available technology. Shifting from chalk-and-talk to facilitation is possibly another example (ok, not necessarily due to technology). Online (self-directed) learning is a good example: our Head Teacher designed an online-based unit on Fractions where students assess themselves on each skill before moving to the next.
Jeff Mao also made a point to say that this framework is more of a cycle rather than hierarchy. That is, once you’ve redefined your practice, you probably will shift around the substitution, augmentation or modification.
Web 2.0 and 1:1 computing (NSWDER) have perhaps raised the expectations on teaching practice towards redefinition. In reality, teachers are doing mostly substitution and augmentation. That is not necessarily a bad thing except for the expectations gap. Also, if you’ve already redefined your practice (i.e. indulge your Connectionist and Constructivist leanings), you are more likely to not redefine again anyway.
The significance of this framework is just that – a framework for discussion, reflection, description. It is not meant to make judgements and should never be used as such.
Martin Levin also wrote about this in his blog. It’s worth a visit.
Truth is, I learned so much from this conference and should really blog more about them….next time.