If you’re game, I want to ask you to become a little reflective and think about how you are using technology in your classroom – whether it’s a simple MP3 player, a desktop computer, an interactive whiteboard, or any other form of technology. As you read this article, think about those tools and where they fall on the continuum of this diagram.
Click the image for the fullsize view. Credit: Dr. Ruben R. Puentedura
I was first introduced to the diagram above about six months ago by a former tech director that had supported over 78,000 students. When she shared that number, it quickly caught (and kept) my attention. During her presentation, she referred to Dr. Puentedura’s research and his philosophy of technology in education. Let’s examine the diagram and see how this thing works…
There are a couple of things to make note of: 1.) the green arrow along the left edge of the diagram and 2.) the dark gray horizontal line between augmentation and modification. In his research, he states the bottom left cell, substitution, is notwhere we want to be. Our goal is to move upward in that column – from augmentation to modification and for the most impact, redefinition. He states that it’s okay to be in the bottom two cells – as long as we’re transitioning. If we stay there for more than [three or four] months, or if we stay there “because I’ve taught it this way for 10 years, why should I change what I’m doing just because I have new technology?”, then that can be problematic (but that’s a whole other article.)
So let’s take a look at this diagram and apply some technology that is meaningful. If you look at the third column, Dr. Puentedura examines the word processor. At the substitution level, you would literally replace the typewriter with the word processor and use no other features – such as the spell checker, cut and paste, etc. In a podcast of his, he uses the example of spotting a mistake you made in your word processing. Do you hit the “backspace” key over and over to back up to that mistake, or do you use the mouse to go directly to that mistake, or better yet, do you use the spellchecker and have it do the work for you? His research has found if you stay at this substitution level, your productivity will actually drop. (Think about having to save the file, print the file, go get the page from the printer – and in our buildings – that can be a long walk!) It would be faster to type the document and pull the paper directly from the typewriter.
What does this look like in the augmentation stage? According to the diagram, it would be using some of the basic tools of the word processor. The spellchecker, cut and paste, word count, formatting, etc. would be good examples. At this stage, you are using the word processor and benefiting from its power, but there’s still room for improvement – there’s still room to make more gains. His research has found that, at this stage, [student impact] remains the same or makes a slight increase.
The first two stages have only enhanced your workflow or the educational process, but he’s not satisfied with that. His idea is that technology should transform the way we do things.
The third stage, modification, is where transformation begins. He’s suggesting we integrate email (isn’t that word processing in a different form?), spreadsheets, and more into our word processing – something that would be very difficult to do with a typewriter. Instead of authoring a document, printing it, then sharing it, the modification stage allows for authoring, then emailing the document – thus saving time and resources. We can also incorporate charts into our documents by using a spreadsheet. His research has found there to be a substantial increase in [student impact] at this stage.
The final stage is redefinition. At this point, looking at the word processing example, we can bring groups of people together to collaborate on a document (think Google Docs) and get their viewpoints in real-time. Thanks to today’s technology this is extremely easy to do, whether it’s a document or spreadsheet, a web page or a drawing. For what it’s worth, his research has found [amazing growth] on [student impact] as compared to those districts that don’t make these progressions.
So is all this important? I believe it is, but who cares what I think – I don’t have direct contact with the students. Teachers, it’s your opinion that matters. Where does your use (or your students’ use) of technology fall on this chart? Are you simply substituting, or are you leveraging the tool to make a strong impact?
-- Brian Miller