This week I been reflecting on the following question: Which theory is most aligned with your own teaching philosophy? Moreover, is the answer different depending on whether answer I am teaching the technology or facilitating students’ inquiry?
Ever since I started teaching as a primary school classroom teacher, I have been passionate in my commitment to three things: maximising individual student growth, inspiring students’ interest in technology, and instilling a sense of self-worth among all students. (Constructivism traits). As a Google for Education Certified Innovator, I am an ambassador for change, and I strive to empower other educators and students through a thriving innovation culture within their classrooms and schools. (Constructivism traits)
In my current role as a technology coach, my philosophy and approach to learning and teaching, has not changed per se, but I am a little more open-minded and aware; initially when I arrived has meant a lot of in differences – where one approach might not fully align with another. As a Google for Education Certified Trainer, I deliver regular sessions and workshops to staff and faculty, and I have to be cognizant of how ICT can best be integrated with instruction based on the learning theories.
How does the choice of learning theory influence the way teachers and students use technology?
Inquiry and constructivism go hand in hand as the learners or inquirers build upon their prior knowledge or previous experiences. Let me give an example: We are currently at the midpoint of our PYP Exhibition, walk into a grade six classroom, and you will see students on MacBooks; sending emails, posting and creating bulletin boards and managing a blog. Down in the media centre, they will be accessing digital libraries, the Internet and tutorials on YouTube, not forgetting constructive tools such as Slides, Docs, and Google Sites.
Examples of different uses of the same ICT tool regarding different learning theories.
Should we still be focusing on this particular skill? Is typing a thing of the past, or should we be teaching the home row and typing posture? Is this an age thing or more to do with your approach to learning theories. The behaviourist might argue for learning by repetition. An hour a week typing, the child can type! A cognitivist approach would have the student learn and remember patterns, rules, and strategies in their approach to typing. Whereas a constructivist will just let it happen and if they want to discover and learn it, then they will.
I have witnessed this tool be used in ways I had not thought about: I have seen it used in the ways it was most likely intended, a student-driven learning journal, a tool for learning – a way of creating and curating – with 50 items per student. Conversely, some teachers have students use Seesaw once a week to take and upload photos of their jotters – only 13 items.
Which approach do I favour regarding typing?
When I moved into my current role, I was unaware of the ‘politics of typing.’ My closest comparison, I guess is multiplication tables. I believe that typing is a skill, an art, and we should give it the respect it deserves. I mean when we consider the vast number of schools moving towards a 1:1 or similar device program – there is a duty to teach students how to use them and if this means we don’t have students ‘pecking’ at the keys then I’m all in favour. I take a cognitive approach: Identifying patterns, rules, and principles to teach typing.
I think we all need a knowledge base and while this might be acquired through a behaviourist and cognitive manner, tools such as Google Sites and Google Slides help us present information – and we are not all going to be experts at fancy Powerpoints of Keynotes. Our role as teachers is to facilitate students’ discovery and to ask questions to direct students in exploration. Even in the last week, we [my university cohort] have set up blogs. We are basing our platform decision on our own experience.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Have a great day!