Frameworks for Tech Integration

  • We need more verbs and fewer nouns.  The concept of verbs and nouns was coined by Marc Prensky, and championed by Mike Muir and the MLTI project team at the DoE.  In Teaching Digital Natives:  Partnering for Real Learning, Prensky (2010) defines the verbs as the skills that students need to learn, and nouns as the tools students use to learn, practice, and apply the verbs.  A piece of technology is a tool, no more or less so than paper and pencils are a tool, except technology is flashier and more expensive, and we get angrier at students when they break it.
The problem with most technology professional development (and I acknowledge my own short comings in this regard) is that they are so noun-centric.  To some extent, tech PD has to be noun-centric, but we are only getting half the equation if we aren't taking the time to explore the verbs.  Part of this has to do with the very limited time that we have to dedicate to tech PD; you still need time to discuss the nouns even as you build in more time for verbs, but sessions are hardly ever long enough to make it from the nouns to the verbs.  Still, PD sessions too often lack a balance of focus between the two.  In my pilot model I seek to reframe tech-based professional development so that nouns and verbs are both addressed in a better balance.
  • Have you met my friend SAMR?  SAMR is a model for thinking about the depth in which we integrate technology (if you think about it, you could consider it when applying just about any tool or noun).  At the lowest level is Substitution, a one-for-one substitution of some other tool you are using.  At this level, the functional improvement the technology brings is completely optional, because, effectively, you're using the technology for the sake of using the technology.
At the other end is Redefinition, where technology has become indispensable to the learning that is taking place because you would not be able to complete the learning task without it.  Ideally, the goal should be for us to progress in our depth of technology integration to greater and greater modifications of the task, while acknowledging that the progression is just that, a progression, and the expectation should be for us to move from one level to the next at our own pace.

In a lot of ways, the SAMR model is compatible with the verbs vs. nouns comparison.  Redefinition would indicate a perfect balance of nouns and verbs when it comes to technology, as we've focused on what we want students to be learning and doing and the tool's role in facilitating that.  I think that, if I am able to succeed in my goal of better balancing nouns and verbs in technology PD, that the end result will be faster and better transition from SA to MR in our classroom technology integration.

Authentic, Project-Based Learning