June 8, 2016

To Use Technology or Not to Use? That is the Question.

Through taking my Media-Enhanced Learning class, my instructor has emphasized that "it is important to remember that teaching comes first and technology is only there to support it (Cassell, 2015).

Based on my experience, many teachers shy away from integrating technology into their classrooms. I think this may be because they don't know where to start. Until recently, I was not aware that there are models that can help you decide what technology to use and how to use it, making the decision process a lot easier.

One of the models I have learned about is called the "SECTIONS" model. It was developed by Tony Bates and Gary Poole in 2003. Bates has outlined the main components to consider when choosing technology as:

Tony Bates has written and released an open textbook called Teaching in a Digital Age where he aims to explain to teachers and instructors models for making decisions about the choice and use of media, which he believes is not an easy task. The book enables teachers and instructors to help students develop the knowledge and skills they will need in a digital age. The book does not teach IT skills, but the thinking and attitudes to learning that will bring them success.

In an interview with Tony Bates, Rob Kelly form Faculty Focus asked him: "what are some common mistakes instructors make when selecting learning technologies?"

To summarize his response, he believes it comes down to teacher training because if they do not know how to use the technology fully, it will not be useful. Teachers should also think about how students learn and what benefit that particular technology provides. 

He encourages teachers to think about what the technology allows them to do that they couldn’t do before, whether it is better than what they were doing before, and if it leads to better learning on the part of the students or more convenience for the students. Essentially, these questions are looking at what kind of job the tool does.  It’s really important to think about what benefit teachers and students might get by using that technology.

UBC has created a framework of questions based on the SECTIONS model they believe will help teachers achieve clarity about the match between the technology they have chosen, their goals, and the expected support requirements that the technology will require – both for them and their learners.

Here are some questions for you to consider:
  1. Are there other models for decision-making on this topic ?
  2. Are there other criteria that you would add or replace in the SECTIONS model? 
  3. Does it make sense to provide any model for making decisions about what media or technology to use? 
  4. Do you think this will help encourage teachers to start integrating more technology in their classrooms?

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