The Practice of Learning

“Learning and teaching should not stand on opposite banks and just watch the river flow by; instead, they should embark together on a journey down the water.” -Loris Malaguzzi

Tag: ECEgrad

Projectors as Digital Tool and Medium in Practice

Besides it’s use in pedagogical narration, digital technology most often appears in my learning environments in the form of computer projectors. We also regulary use non-digital light projectors. Both types of projectors have constitently been photographed as present in Reggio Emilia schools.

Photo retrieved from https://wordpress.wiu.edu/ilaecte/2016/10/16/let-there-be-light/

Over the last several weeks, we have been collecting digital photographs from our families via email, which are representative of our children’s lives outside of our classroom. Our intention is to have the children’s “home” photographs projected onto our walls and on our projector screen (which hangs from the ceiling in the middle of our room).

We are beginning to develop a hypothesis connected to empathy and hope that our wall projections will spark converstations, thoughts, considerations of self and the other.  The art, construction, converstations, play etc. that takes place in our class will be recorded using our phones’ photo, video, and voice applications. We also have hard-copy family photos and pedagogical narrations interspersed in our classroom and continue to use pencil and paper to record our observations.

As we continue down our current path of inquiry myself and my co-educator explore different ways to point the children’s focus inwards towards discovery of self and outwards towards the relationship between self and others.  Though much of our investigation so far has included conventional mediums such as mirrors, tape measures, markers, pencil crayons, pencils, charcoal, paper, scissors, converstations, clay, sticks, blocks, literature etc. we are invariably searching for new methods and materials to connect in.

In hunting for digital mediums to draw into our inquiry, I came across a post by a fellow classmate that included the article by Cowan (2016), Digital Languages: Multimodal meaning-making in Reggio-inspired early years education. Her article outlined some digital languages in practice and happened to include an exploration of body and movement entitled: Exploring the body in digital and non-digital combinations. The arts space (atelier) used for the inquiry provided opportunity for numerous forms of expression, as it set out digital tools that inlcuded an iPad (set up with motion capture software), webcam, digital microscopes, and a computer projector, alongside non-digital materials such as wooden figures, mirrors, magnifiers, clay, wire, paper, and paints.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels

Art spaces (ateliers) that include a host of mediums, materials, and disciplines are common practice in Reggio Emilia inspired environments, as they allow for multiple modes of thought and expression. However, I have drawn connections to my own inquiry with the body exploration presented by Cowan (2016) and hope to bring some of the digital ponderings into our classroom. One specific experience described educators projecting digital images onto an art easel that had been set up with paper and paint. I hope to transplant the latter into our class, by offering the children an opportunity to ‘paint’ on their digital self-portraits.

I feel priviledged to be able work in an Early Learning environment that fosters the inclusion of unconventional materials and refrains from following learning schedules or timelines. At the same time, I am also aware that the approach that allows for such beautiful fluidity in teaching and learning also tends to keep digital technology on the periphery of its philosophy. Digital tools and mediums are as essential to the Reggio Emilia philosophy as any other tool or mediam. Yet, digital technology plays a much bigger role in our worlds than does a paint brush, a wooden block, or a piece of paper or clay (though each depend on natural resources as digital technology does). At present, nearly every person on the planet keeps some sort of mobile device on there person at all times, but not everyone carries with them a pen or a piece of paper.

My current practice, and the practices presented in Cowan’s article, remain focused on how to incoporate and use digital technology, rather than how to generate a deep and critical understanding of its production and purpose in our lives. It requires an outstanding amount of natural resources to produce one ‘smart’ phone. Still, despite the recent calls for environmental action and nature focused outdoor education, digital technology appears to play a perfunctory role in teaching and learning.

Consequently, I will continue on my hunt for a holistic approach to digital technology in ECE. In my next post I will present the MakEY Project, a Europe-wide project the considers how ‘makerspaces’ can contribute to the development of children’s digital literacy.

Once again, happy Sunday. Thank you for reading,

EJ

References

Cowan, K. (2017, March 19). Digital Languages: Multimodal meaning-making in Reggio-inspired early years education. Retrieved from http://digilitey.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/STSM-Stockholm-Final-Report-Kate-Cowan.pdf

Digital vs. Analog. In Person vs. Online. Inconceivable in Application or in Education?

My first encounter with Dr. Puentedura’s (SAMR) model came from the YouTube video posted below. Initially, Puentedura’s model led to personal feelings of insecurity with regard to the type of digital technology used in my practice. Rarely, if ever, have I attempted to use digital technology beyond its most basic application.

Pondering over ideas presented in the video, I couldn’t help but draw a connection between my initial feelings of cluelessness in EDCI: Multimedia Learning and Technology and the basic, outdated, and often limiting version of digital technology present in my Early Learning environments. I started to wonder: Perhaps I am not well versed enough in the capabilities of modern digital technology to be including it in my pedagogy? However, after more carefully considering some of the statements made in the video and reading a critical review of the (SAMR) model by Hamilton, Rosenberg, and Akcaoglu (2016), my feelings about my personal practice tranformed into critical notions regarding Puentedura’s model.

The critical review  presented by Hamilton et al. (2016) broke down Puentedura’s (SAMR) model into what they considered to be three challenges: (1) Absence of Context, (2) Rigid Structure, and (3) Product Over Process. However, the common criticism presented throughout their review suggested that the (SAMR) model undercuts the complexity in teaching and learning (Hamiliton et al., 2016). According to Hamilton et al., (SAMR) disregarded the complexity present in the learning settings within which technology is introduced, overlooked the variance in pedagogies by confining technology integration to four specific categories, and excluded the intricacies connected to the process of learning about technology by placing significant importance on the type of technology that is used (Hamilton et al., 2016).

While I agree that the (SAMR) model, in general, oversimplifies the process of technology integration in education, I found the steps of the (SAMR) ladder [model below] especially misleading.

In their critical review, Hamiliton et al. (2016) highlighted the fact that the (SAMR) steps oppose research that suggested that enhanced learning outcomes were more dependent on teacher and student interaction rather than the type of technology used.  The (SAMR) model assumes that using technology in “redefined” or “modified” ways will generated improved learning outcomes. However, research suggests that classroom practices and teacher pedagogy play a more significant role in the level of learning comprehension (Hamiliton et al., 2016).

I also find the language used in the description of the (SAMR) steps misleading. The notion that specific digital technology can allow for “significant task redesign” or the “creation of a new, previously inconceivable task” is entirely subjective. The following examples can all be understood as subsitutions with “no functional change”: an in-class drama exchanged for a digital video recording, in-class discussions and peer editing switched out for a Google Doc, or small writing groups replaced by individual Blogs. Instead, one might consider an interactive, 3D computer simulation substituted in for a 2D diagram as redesigning educators roles in teaching rather than transforming student tasks.

Like much of what I have read about digital technology in Early Years education so far, the (SAMR) model focuses on how to best incorporate digital technology in one’s current educational practice or how to best use it in said practice, rather than ‘why’ use it at all. There appears to be an absence of literature, and examples from pedagogy (including my own), that explores teaching and learning technology holistically.

In my next few posts I will examine technology in my own classroom, the Maker Movement, more European pedogogies, and Henry Jenkins’ approach to “New Media Education”, in the hopes of better understanding how to educate on, rather than incorporate in, digital technology.

Until Next Time,

EJ

 

References

Hamilton, E. R., Rosenberg, J. M., & Akcaoglu, M. (2016). The substitution augmentation modification redefinition (SAMR) model: A critical review and suggestions for its use. Techtrends, 60(5), 433-441. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0091-y

Spencer, J. (2015, Nov 3). What is the SAMR model and what does it look like in schools? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://youtube/SC5ARwUkVQg

 

 

Welcome

Welcome readers, visitors, and classmates to my blog. Thank you for joining me as I document my learning progress in the MEd course entitled “Interactive and Multimedia Learning” offered through the University of Victoria.

It has been over two weeks since the off-campus course commenced and I feel like I am only just beginning to understand its operations, expectations, and components. Having educators interact with current technology used in post-secondary institutations seems a perfect way to begin a course that considers technology’s role in education. Learning how to learn in “Interactive and Multimedia Learning” is a great reminder of how knowledge is co-constructed between educator and student, adult and child, and classmates.

In my current practice digital technology is present and embraced, however, this is almost entirely because I work in a Reggio Emilia learning centre, not because digital literacy is a priority in our community or province. Consequently, in the next few months, I hope to find new and accessible ways to incooperate ideas regarding technology that come from communities outside of North America. Keeping in the mind that though the education practices in Finland, Sweden, and Reggio Emilia, Italy are often appealing in their intentions and results they are also often practiced in much less culturally diverse demographics than Vancouver. My aim is to become well versed in such educative practices but to also think practically about how they can translate into a much more diverse community.