Laura Nicholson – May 2019
Click on any of the images below to view traditional teaching activities with over 50 examples of how to enhance with technology.
How Can Technology Enhance Learning?
Differentiation and Traditional Teaching Methods
Every student enters the learning environment with a set of beliefs, attitudes and personal motivations regarding the task and topic in hand (Putri et al., 2017,p.2). They need certainty in feeling that they can overcome any barriers facing them, with opportunities that promote independence and increase confidence in their abilities. Therefore, each learning environment will need to meet a diverse range of needs, which is partly achievable through differentiation in teaching activities.
One way to differentiate is to have multiple activities running at once. However, this can be impractical to facilitate and monitor and it often requires significant planning time, which is a luxury many practitioners do not have. Another common differentiation strategy is to use the same activity for the whole class, with some students ‘explaining’ an element of a topic, and others being instructed to provide an ‘analysis’ (Parveen and Rajesh, 2019, p.23). The problem with this is the underlying assumption that changing the directive verb in an activity from ‘explain’ to ‘analyse’ is automatically going to result in a well-reasoned and formulated response from the student. Materials and resources can be provided to help the student look more deeply into a topic, but it cannot be assumed that the student will know how to use these effectively.
Ultimately, the strategy of changing the directive verb in order to differentiate follows the belief that differentiation is achieved by varying the overall outcome of an activity. However, it is the students who learn how to engage with the materials available to them who are truly learning. By looking at the learning process in this way, the focus of differentiation switches from being less about overall outcomes and more about how to provide the right type of support. Collaboration with peers is one tried and tested strategy (Barber et al., 2015, p.60), but the use of technology is another. Using technology in teaching provides a different medium for students to structure their responses to activities and opens a gateway to a whole host of additional resources, enabling a level of interaction and discovery to suit every ability.
Differentiation with Technology
An activity asking students to research and respond to carefully structured questions is a valued traditional teaching activity. However, asking students to use a specific technology medium to formulate and present their response, rather than just merely writing something down, encourages far more thought and engagement with their findings. Additionally, technology can vary the learning environment in a way which can help to maintain the interest of those students who become disengaged at any request to complete pen and paper activities. Many technology tools also provide opportunities for collaboration, with students working on a task together in real-time or outside of college, thus enabling peer support to extend beyond the classroom walls.
Ultimately, there is a place for both traditional and technology-based teaching strategies, and it is about trying to achieve a careful balance between the two. Trying to implement technology for technology’s sake is not what is being advocated here, and there will be many times when the traditional methods are quite simply the best option. It is about taking those traditional methods, which have been used effectively for many years and just adapting them in the appropriate circumstances to enhance the opportunities for learning.
Barber, W., King, S & Buchanan, S. (2015). ‘Problem-Based Learning and Authentic Assessment in Digital Pedagogy: Embracing the Role of Collaborative Communities’ Electronic Journal of e-Learning, Vol 13 (2) p.60. Available at: https://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ1060176.pdf (last accessed 14/05/2019)
Parveen, J.J &Rajesh, V. (2019). ‘The Fortunate Consequences of OBE introduced in the NAAC framework 2017: Teacher Attitudes towards using Bloom’s Taxonomy to Write Program Outcomes (PO) and Course Outcomes (CO)- A Study’ International Journal of English Language. Literature in Humanities. Vol 7 (1) Jan 2019, p. 23.
Putri, U.H., Mardiyana, M & Saputro, D.R.S. (2017). ‘How to Analyse the Students’ Thinking Levels Based on SOLO Taxonomy?’ Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 895. P.2. Available at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/895/1/012031/pdf (last accessed 17/05/2019)