In an increasingly technological world, the importance of designing curriculum with the component of technology included could not be more necessary or vital to the student-learning experience. In incorporating technology, it is important to first and foremost consult the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) standards for both the Student as well as the Educator. These sets of standards provide the educator with the proper framework for decisive and thoughtful implementation of technology into the curriculum.
Today’s post is on the role of Designer and how one can effectively adapt the lesson to fit the needs and learning styles of all students within the learning environment. This post will attempt to thoroughly examine this role and provide an exemplified program [Quizlet’s Diagram Creator] to show this role in effect. Below are the standards for the educator taking on the role of the designer:
What does it mean to create “authentic, learner-driven activities and environments that recognize and accommodate learner variability”? Allowing for the element of technology to not only enhance the learning material and better engage students, but to also provide a way for the accommodation of learner differences and needs is basically the gist of this role for the educator. The goal is to be able to provide students with a tool (or variety of tools) that can be used in a variety of ways so that they can best fit it to the way they work and learn best.
What follows then, are the standards to take into account for the student:
As is pointed out, students should have access to and should be shown a variety of tools to use as an aid in generating ideas, testing theories, creating artifacts, and solving problems. Allowing students multiple modes to attain or achieve the learning goal is what the teacher, as the effective designer, must provide. Without the element of technology, or even the element of choice or creation, the students will lose interest, fail to push their intellect, or refrain from engagement altogether. However, one must remember that with the implementation of technology in the curriculum/classroom comes a great responsibility: Authority and Supervision.
In an article on the Washington Post, Kentaro Toyama explains how,
“Children have a natural desire to learn and play and grow. But they also have a natural desire to distract themselves with Angry Birds. Digital technology amplifies both of these appetites. The balance between them differs from child to child, but on the whole, distraction seems to win out when there’s no adult guidance.” (Toyama)
Technology isn’t something you simply implement, let manifest, and the job will get done for you. No, the role of the teacher is not simply to teach, but to guide, influence and oversee. This does not mean that you should take the wheel entirely. Letting the students operate the vehicle while you are in the passenger seat (or as the so-called “backseat driver”) is more or less the point. Give students the charge, but make sure they don’t steer too far off course.
Allowing for the combination of learning, having fun and creating are what is needed when it comes to using technology as an aid in the classroom. Without the element of fun, students will lose interest in the task at hand, and distract themselves. Adding fun into the mix will keep them engaged, but not necessarily on task: “If you provide an all-purpose technology that can be used for learning and entertainment, children choose entertainment. Technology by itself doesn’t undo that inclination – it amplifies it” (Toyama). Therefore it is important to never lose sight of the role of guide in yourself. Allow for the element of fun, but creativity and creation must also be added-on and well-planned-out elements that we cannot do without.
In a study conducted by Andersen & Sorensen (2017) on using technology as an aid, not only for students with various learning styles, but also students diagnosed with ADHD, ADD or ASD, the element of creation (the role of designer) with the use of technology and within the classroom is explored in depth. The types of technologies examined in the study fall into these seven categories:
The findings of the study conclude that the technological tools examined provided learners with an increased feeling of flow and self-efficacy. In other words, the technologies implemented into the classroom allowed students to more easily participate, understand and contribute to the learning processes, and also allowed for them to work more independently and autonomously. The elements of creation and design were not discussed, however, the technologies were expressed as having allowed learners to effectively combat their specific challenges and cater toward their specific skills (Andersen & Sorensen, 171).
The italicized portion of the list above is the category where the tool that I examine falls. Individual or Shared Summary Tools “give learners a place for reflection, reification, and evaluation of what they have done and learned” (Andersen & Sorensen, 168). In other words, tools that fall into this category might be considered “Comprehension Tools”, meaning that they demonstrate learner understanding in a space that is either individual or shared.
The tool I have chosen to examine is a part of the popular Quizlet enterprise called Quizlet Diagram Maker, of which I found on the Professional Learning Network (PLN) called “Educational Technology & Mobile Learning”. This tool serves as the perfect space for providing learners with an individual or shared space for summarizing what is learned or how concepts and topics could be understood. Learners use this technology to create or design. Such examples of creation might include concept-mind-maps or visual and interactive study aids.
And such examples of creation that already exist:
Both teachers and students can join and create. As the teacher, one can design a variety of ways for students to study, test on, and turn in materials. As a student, one can design tools to study or show competency, and can even explore the tools that already exist. Whatever it is, it can probably be created in here. The platform is fairly simple and straightforward:
With a program like this, learners can return to it at any time for repetition and memory support. Quizlet Diagram Maker is free, however, there is an upgraded “Teacher Version” that looks quite fascinating and worthy of trying out – it allows you to create visual diagrams that your students can interact with, use as a study aid, test on, or even collaborate and work with one another. Either way, this tool allows for students to learn in multiple ways, whether that is visually, auditorily, or through repetition and interaction. Users have the option to access the tool from the web as well as on mobile. The tool accounts for fun, creativity and learning, making it perfect for the role of the Designer for students and teachers alike. Check it out!