Moving Beyond Word Processing, Presenting, and Online Research

Focusing on learning with technologyMaine is lucky in that we have both the Maine Learning Technology Initiative (MLTI) and NetworkMaine. Both have helped close the Digital Access Divide for Maine’s schools. MLTI has helped bring 1to1 to more than a third of Maine’s students (and 100% of 7th and 8th grade) – this doesn’t even count what districts have done on their own – and NetworkMaine, a partnership between the Maine University System, the Maine Department of Education, and Maine’s public libraries, has played a major role to bringing broadband to Maine’s institutions of higher education, public schools, and public libraries.

And yet, with all this access, our data show that students are stuck at using their devices for word processing, presenting and online research.

We agree we want students to develop these skills, but by themselves they don’t justify our investments in learning technology and connectivity.

How can we help schools move beyond word pressing, presenting, and online research?

We’re trying to start by defining what we mean by learning through technology. 

At it’s simplest, we’re talking about five components, starting with three types of instruction: building foundational knowledge; practice and deepening understanding; and putting knowledge to use. Putting knowledge to use often includes not just the learning target but being able to apply it at a higher level of complex reasoning and in an authentic or simulated real-world context.

All three of these instructional practices have ongoing back and forth interaction with evidence of learning, formative feedback, and continuous improvement.

And these four elements are within the context of creating the conditions for students to be motivated and engaged.

Our work, then, and the work of other educators, is to help explore and define the role of technology within each of these 5 components, and provide good exemplars, as well as professional learning and support in adopting these strategies.