My Two Cents
This is my hundred slide presentation that will tell you everything you need to know to be successful as a digital coach. I'm not going to present it all because you might fall asleep.
Instead, I'm going to show you a few slides, hint at its glory and wisdom, then let you explore it on your own.
How Do We Know What Works?
One Campus Administrator Perspective
I observed a middle school Language Arts class which lasted 50 minutes from bell-to-bell. The teacher had posted the objective of "Learning to unpack the writing prompt." She had the students get a tablet from a charging cart and then proceed to log into their accounts so they could use a program called "Cornell Notes." Over the next 25 minutes, I watched as students struggled with their logins, tried to remember how to access the Cornell notes app, tried to remember how to use the highlight and underline features on the app, etc. For more than half of the class period, the only interaction between teacher and students and between students was about how to use the technology. Not one word in regard to the posted objective.
The problem isn't always technology, however. I observed the same time-wasting in another middle school Language Arts class with the same posted objective. This time, however, the teacher was having the students create a "foldable" to be placed in their Writer's Notebook. For more than half the period, the students spent their time trying to imitate how the teacher folded, cut, and pasted a piece of paper into the desired product. Students had difficulty using the scissors, cutting in the right place, folding in the right way. It was a complete waste of instructional time and I suspect the students never did make the connection between the foldable and the objective.
Dr. Schmoker isn't saying that technology in the classroom is bad. What he is saying is that instruction that is dependent upon technology, or designed to accommodate technology, can be a disruption, can use up valuable instruction time, and can interfere with the transfer of learning. I would bet that if you asked many of the students in the classrooms I describe above what they were learning, they would answer that they were learning to use a tablet or learning to make a foldable.
What Does the Research Say?
Is Technology a Time-Gobbler?
"Research demonstrates the folly of our current priorities, such as investing heavily in technology when it has had, so far, such limited impact on student learning" (Dylan Wiliams)
Advocates of 21st Century education are not urging us to rashly reinvent curriculum around technology or group projects. They are not proposing that students spend less time learning content and more time making movie previews, video skits, wikis, silent movies or clay animation figures.
We need to say 'No, thank you' to such faddish, time-gobbling activities"
- Mike Schmoker on Pg 26, Focus
Research results show that the U.S. now has one of the worst educated workforces in the industrialized world (Goodman, Sands, and Coley, 2017).
Millennials will be the core of our workforce for years to come, and the U.S. economy will depend on them. The most recent research shows that millennials in the workforce, once the best educated in the world, are now among the least well educated in the industrialized world (Goodman, Sands, and Coley, 2017) .
The ETS survey showed that Americans ages 16-34 in the PIAAC survey were at the bottom in every category: reading, numeracy, and problem solving.
We have to figure out how to enable the students who now leave school with a seventh or eighth grade reading level and a poor command of eighth grade math (NCEE, 2013) to graduate instead with much higher skills, both cognitive and noncognitive, and we have to figure out how to do it for not much more than we are spending now, because there simply is no more money.
- U.S. fourth-graders who report using tablets in all or nearly all of their classes are a full year behind in reading ability compared with peers who report never using tablets in their classes.
- Internationally, students who report greater use of technology in their classrooms score worse on the PISA exam
- High levels of technology use in the classroom tend to correlate with lower student performance.
- One recent study found that over a third of all technology purchases made by middle schools simply weren’t used. And only 5 percent of purchases met their purchaser’s usage goals.
The Reboot Foundation says, "Our data suggest that technology may not always be used in a way that prompts richer forms of learning." Their findings make these points:
- Schools and teachers should be more careful about when—and how—education technology is deployed in classrooms.
- Moderate use of technology is often the most effective for younger students, and
- Experts recommend limiting the use of devices for young children
- Technology seems the least helpful for younger students learning to read, and non-digital tools work better for younger students who are mastering the basics of language.
- Digital tools that provide immediate instructional feedback can show high impact, and technology can be particularly beneficial for promoting richer thinking among older students.