Leveraging Student Voice with Technology

Technology seems to exist on two levels today.  We expect it to permeate every aspect of our personal lives, but in education we often still treat it as a separate idea or an add-on.  School districts in Central Rivers AEA have high levels of access to technology, yet the change learning in hasn’t happened in ways people thought it would.  What can we do to start to change that?
The most important  thing we can do is develop a better understanding of what good technology use can really accomplish in the classroom.  The SAMR Framework (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition), created by Dr. Ruben Puentedura is a great tool to use to develop that understanding. The table below is my favorite iteration of the SAMR Framework because it moves beyond the technology and allows educators to use the same ideas to look at learning in the classroom as a whole.

Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition
Direct substitute, with no functional change Direct substitute, but with a functional improvement Significant task redesign Creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable
Use of Technology Technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional improvement Technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement Technology allows new product(s) to be created, as well as improves efficiency Learning activities are designed in ways that would not be possible to accomplish without technology
Task Traditional task and technology has been added in Traditional task but technology improves it Authentic task or problem to solve. Variety of choices provided to students for product creation. Authentic, unpredictable task presented where students collaborate to jointly solve cross-curricular problems. Variety of student developed choices for product creation, where collaboration, evaluation and analysis in required
As a mindset Students are taken through content; teacher is presenting Students are using technology (apps, sites, programs) Multiple approaches with instruction Student has control of learning
Questions Teachers providing questions and resources for students Teachers guiding question development with students Students asking questions, finding answers with their resources Students asking questions, researching answers, providing findings to global audience

The underlying idea of the SAMR model is students should be able to do things that would not be possible without technology, have more voice and choice in their learning and using that learning to solve problems and share those solutions globally.  School districts are adopting various initiatives with the same goal, for example, Project-Based Learning, STEM, Authentic Intellectual Work, Competency- Based Education and others when paired with technology provide students with the skills and tools to accomplish those goals. We see this idea of student voice happening right now out of the classroom as a group of students are leading a social movement on gun control.  Regardless of how you feel about the issue, you can’t deny these students are doing what every teacher hopes for their students. These students are using what they have learned in school to try to change the world.
So what are students in our area doing? Bring your students to the Student Technology Conference on April 20th at the Central Rivers AEA Conference Center in Cedar Falls.  Unlike any other conference in our area, this conference is all about the students. Students are not only the attendees, but also the presenters! In this half-day event, students from grades Kindergarten through twelfth, will share their projects with other students.
You can find out more about the conference on our website or contact Michelle Cowell mcowell@centralriversaea.org, Instructional Technology Consultants at Central Rivers AEA.