Watching a presentation by two book authors at a conference earlier this year, a colleague sitting next to me remarked, “Wow, they included all the low-hanging fruit. I expected more.” It was a valid criticism if you imagine that every book or publication should address technology integration strategies of some sort.

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However, while I agree that this type of sharing is “low-level,” it’s important that we continue to share. The act of sharing can be fun and enjoyable for educators, as well as anyone. To insist that sharing always aim for the uppermost branches of learning can be a tough, stressful series of actions.

As I was working my way through various emails, I ran across the following from Stacy Behmer:

Hold on to your hats boys and girls because we will try to fly through 60 great Chrome web apps and extensions in 60 minutes! Chrome apps and extensions are what help you make the most of the web. Web apps are those shortcuts to websites you can use and I’ll showcase some that tie in with Google Drive and then we will look at some of my favorite Chrome extensions to help make your browsing experience more efficient and these extensions can also be used to help support accommodations for students! READY… SET…GO! 

It immediately made me think of Dr. Scott Mcleod’s blog entry, 60 apps in 60 seconds, where he points out:

How many sessions like these have we seen at educational technology conferences? (fess up: how many have we delivered?!) Teachers attend, they scribble notes madly, they ask for the slides afterward because “they missed some.” The long-term substantive impact of these spray-and-pray workshops on teachers’ day-to-day practice? Zero.

I must disagree with Dr. Mcleod. While not all teachers will embrace ALL of what has been shared, some teachers will reach for the one item that engaged them. The spray-and-pray approach reminds me of Stephen Krashen’s second language acquisition theory of comprehensible input, or i+1.

According to this hypothesis, the learner improves and progresses along the ‘natural order’ when he/she receives second language ‘input’ that is one step beyond his/her current stage of linguistic competence. (Source)

In technology parlance, that would be, learning how to use technology that is one step beyond current usage. For example, MS Word to GoogleDocs.

Here’s the text:

Language acquisition does not require extensive use of conscious grammatical rules, and does not require tedious drill. Acquisition requires meaningful interaction in the target language – natural communication – in which speakers are concerned not with the form of their utterances but with the messages they are conveying and understanding.  

The best methods are therefore those that supply ‘comprehensible input’ in low anxiety situations, containing messages that students really want to hear. These methods do not force early production in the second language, but allow students to produce when they are ‘ready’, recognizing that improvement comes from supplying communicative and comprehensible input, and not from forcing and correcting production. 

In the real world, conversations with sympathetic native speakers who are willing to help the acquirer understand are very helpful. Source: Stephen Krashen as cited online

While we are talking about language acquisition here, I suppose that this theory might lend itself to using technology as well. Let’s revise this perspective–totally unsubstantiated by research, of course–to reflect technology instruction:

  1. Technology integration does not require extensive use of conscious pedagogical rules, or tedious drill. Integration requires meaningful interaction in the use of technology-blended instruction in which learners are concerned, not with what technology, but the how the technology expands their learning.
    Example: Share popular apps with learners that help them achieve something relevant and meaningful to them. Although not all apps shared in 60 seconds will be useful to all, some will be.
  2. The best methods are therefore those that supply technology use scenarios in low anxiety situations, focused around uses that learners really want to adopt for their own. These methods do not force early production at a high level, but allow learners to produce when they are ‘ready,’ recognizing that integration comes from supplying comprehensible input.
    Example: Can you think of a more low anxiety situation as a conference where someone is promising to share apps with you? Not only can you practice lecture student role–which all of us are familiar with and agree is fairly non-threatening–you can revisit the presentation at your leisure.
  3. In the real world, technology use with sympathetic learners who regularly use technology and are willing to help are more helpful than ivory tower academics proclaiming from their perches atop well-respected blogs.
    Example: It’s so easy to be critical of folks, but those who are sharing “where the rubber meets the road” technology uses provide an entry point to higher learning.
Seriously, wasn’t that fun? Low-hanging fruit, indeed!

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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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