Sunday, October 08, 2006

Technology and Pedagogy - connections, connections

There was a very brief discussion among a few bloggers a while back around the question of what we consider first when using instructional technology: the technology or our pedagogy. At the time, I really had to think about that although I had the sense that pedagogy is the most important starting point and that was confirmed for me again tonight.

I'm getting ready to do a workshop that I titled, "Digital Tools in the Literacy Block" and to prepare I've been going back to two books that have been discussed and used by our staff recently: Strategies That Work by Stephanie Harvey and Anne Goudvis and The Daily Five by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser. In both of those books, the authors emphasize helping students to learn strategies for independent learning.

That makes me think about a posting I wrote about teaching for a time when we're not there. These authors are really dealing with the same thing. In both books, the authors discuss research done in the area of the gradual release of responsibility approach - releasing responsibility for learning to the learner with the goal of achieving independence in the use of reading strategies. I find so many connections with that to instructional technology.

The authors of both books advocate that students will learn independence if the teacher models the strategy, thinks aloud while using the strategy and provides students with time to practice using the strategy.

Couldn't we teach Internet Safety, use of blogs and wikis, podcasting, and so many other technology tools and applications using this same pedagogy? Don't we want students to use particular strategies when searching, strategies when blogging, strategies using a word processing application, a graphic organizer application, a presentation application? Shouldn't we be modeling, thinking aloud and giving students time to use these tools?

This workshop will not be about providing teachers with a checklist of items such as websites, software and worksheets that students can do when they read something online. It needs to be as much about the pedagogy as it is about the technology and the strategy for using those tools. I'd better get back to work!

Things that make you say: hmmmm...

My husband received an email last week from a national organization of which he's been a member for 28 years. The email was proudly announcing that the organization now had a place online to which the members could go to register and pay dues. While that's all well and good, the thing my husband was laughing about the most was the fact that the organization provided him with a list of steps for accessing this site. What's wrong with that you ask? The list had 23 steps to follow! I asked him how he thought the organization was going to be successful in launching this service if it took 23 steps that had to be defined for the user.

It made me wonder about the intuitive nature of the technology. If a user enters this site and can't make their way around without a list of these 23 steps, then what good is the site going to be? I've been able to create a blog and several wikis in less time than it would take to even read these 23 steps.

We'll have to keep an eye on this site and just see what happens...

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Gotta love Panera!

This blog posting is just for fun...
While having some maintenance done on my car yesterday morning, I walked to a nearby Panera armed with books and note paper to eat breakfast and get a little work done during my hour and a half wait time. I found a nice little table, sat down, pulled out my materials, and proceeded to eat and work. Panera provides such a warm, relaxing atmosphere where no one was rushing me to leave and I really got a lot done. Sometimes home is a lot of distractions of other things that need to be done. Yesterday, Panera was just what I needed!