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Over the last few years, I’ve watched the erosion of instructional technology core principles and concepts with a bit of trepidation. Ask a young whippersnapper campus instructional technologist how to integrate technology into the curriculum, and they’ll likely start spouting some nonsense about app smashing, using Google as an LMS, getting connected to a PLN, etc.

The Technology Coach Handbook by Deborah Lowther, Michael Grant, Eric Marvin, Fran Clark and Blake Burr in 2003

Isn’t it time we got back to that Old Time Religion, the OLD way of integrating technology into the curriculum? But wait, even you, faithful reader, may not know what that entails! Last week, when I shared this 2003 Technology Coaching Manual, people retweeted it and were so excited!
“Thank goodness,” I could hear them exclaim, “we’re finally getting back to basics that our children and staff need!”

Some weren’t so enthusiastic. They just didn’t get it. “Time has moved on,” they said, “and we shouldn’t be talking about word processing, spreadsheets, and databases anymore. Who uses those anymore?” And, others didn’t care for the chart featured below:

David Phillips writes the following:

It seems to me that 1) since the research and the documentation are 12 years old, they don’t take into account some of the important capabilities we have with tools now available 2) from my perpective real learning would be difficult to graph, primarily because there would be no straight lines and 3) I think that most real learning acts more like a vacuum cleaner than like a ladder.
I think that we would agree that learning generally starts with a need.  You would say a problem, and I suppose, but I think that, in many cases learning starts with an idea, a kernel of creativity that envisions a product.  Maybe also there’s a need to repair or enhance something–which might also tie into the problem idea.
Either way, problem or project, I think learning normally starts the top rather than at the bottom, with the create piece  and the learner has to acquire and organize the information and skills necessary to create the product envisioned, or to solve the problem before him.

When you consider David’s points in bold, it’s easy to see how research and documentation being twelve years old might raise a few eyebrows.

To be honest, this chart reminds me of one I adapted from the Levels of Teaching Innovation (LOTI):

As you can see, it’s not the chart that’s the problem. Nor is it the idea that problem-based learning has fallen out of favor (it never was in K-12 much).  The problem is how seldom we achieve the target destination in classrooms when it comes to technology integration.

How funny that the skills and strategies mentioned in the Technology Coaching Manual are right on target.

Consider this discussion of spreadsheets at the end of Section 2 and in Section 3:

In Section 3, you can see even more specific examples of technology integration a la old fashioned way…are these that different from what we would do today?

Spreadsheets allow us to perform calculations, sort data, and create graphs/charts. The value of GoogleSheets, of course, is that we can now gather information using a GoogleForm, then work with “real data.”

Consider the third row in this rubric…students are expected to create spreadsheet charts that demonstrate a trend.

To identify the trend, they could try to document the trend using a variety of data sources that they collect, for example, from their peers, school staff, their parents, and/or anyone else they encounter on the web.

The manual continues on when to use spreadsheets:

And, the manual offers specific suggestions on when spreadsheets could be used in a classroom:

  • Plot average yearly precipitation in your county for the past 50 years.
  • Compare miles traveled during migration for 10 different birds. 
  • Compare the number of adjectives and adverbs used in the first 300 words of a non-fiction book and a fiction book. 
  • Compare the number of U.S. vs. Asian yearly earthquake occurrences for the past 50 years. 
  • Compare grams of sugar in breakfast cereals. 
  • Calculate the maximum price per square yard that could be paid, if the PTA gave your class $300 to carpet your classroom.
  • Determine the shortest driving route from New York City to San Antonio, Texas. 
  • Determine the number of dump trucks needed to transport soil removed for a competition-sized swimming pool. 
  • Create a budget that would result in at least $100 profit from selling hot dogs at $1.00 each. 
  • Graph the cost differences between using natural gas vs. electricity for heating a home. 
  • Use data to demonstrate whether or not the environmental protection efforts are working. 
  • How much time would the hare have to waste for the tortoise to win a 1-mile race?
  • Plot the yield per acre for grain crops grown in the Midwest.  

You can also see specific examples:

As you study these items, ask yourself, Is this what technology integration means to you? If the answer is NO, then I encourage you to reflect on what exactly technology integration means…remember, it’s not just about doing these types of activities in your classroom, but taking advantage of technology that enables you to do them with others, collaboratively, over the Web.

When we ponder which model to use–problem-based learning or project-based learning–let’s remember that if teachers were to be coached on how to accomplish this, we would be much further along than if we gave them a cart of iPads/Chromebooks and left them to play.


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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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