Thursday, January 05, 2012

Transformational Tasks

The focus of José Picardo's blog post, Teaching and Learning with Social Media: A Case Study, really struck a chord with me.  Usually when discussing the use of technology in education, we talk about how tech tools can "enhance" teaching and learning.  However, Picardo discusses the use of social media not only to enhance but  to transform learning tasks.

He says, Most interesting to me was the transformative potential of blogs, Web 2.0 applications and social networks, not only to enhance existing practice, but also to create new technology-based tasks which would have been previously inconceivable ... 

Picardo refers to Transformation, Technology, and Education a 2006 presentation by Ruben R. Puentedura  who divides learning tasks into 4 types, two which enhance learning and two which transform it.

Image from Ruben R. Puentedura

Enhancement type tasks
Substitution - Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change
Example:  Word processor used as a typewriter
Augmentation- Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with functional improvement
Examples: Use of word processor functions such as spellchecking and cut and paste
Transformation type tasks
Modification - Tech allows for significant task redesign
Example: Textual, visual, audio tools for construction of shared knowledge
Redefinition - Tech allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable
Example: Tools for visualization and simulation, social computing, digital storytelling, educational gaming

I decided to try to apply Puentedura's  typology using the 2 broad categories of enhancement and transformation to the Activity Types posited in World Languages Activity Types which I found in Grounded Tech Integration: Languages an article in the  ISTE Connections online magazine, Learning and Leading.  My conclusion was that the transformational aspect of tasks lies in the ability of language learners to do one or both of these things:
  • Have more control over their own learning
  • Interact  and receive  feedback. 

Here are some examples: 
  • Instead of playing an audio recording in class, the teacher posts a link to the podcast on a class blog and asks the students to post their responses to the podcast on the blog.    In this way, the students have control over the number of times they listen to the podcast and post a response which is available to a wide audience for further feedback.
  • Instead of asking students of deliver a presentation for the class, the teacher asks the students to create a video podcast which is then posted online for feedback.  Since there are many devices now available for creating and editing videos, the students would be able to create a product they were satisfied with before posting it for feedback.
  • Instead of having students send letters to a pen pal, the teacher can set up exchange emails with a speaker of the target language.  (Sites like Edmodo and ePals allow for teacher monitoring of exchanges). Or to provide language in context, the teacher could develop Skype exchanges with students in a target-language country through a site like ePals.
  • Instead of taking students on a school -sponsored  field trip, teachers can provide links to sites where students can take virtual field trips to sites not otherwise available because of distance and expense.
  • Instead of giving students access to written material in the target language in the classroom or library, the teacher can ask the students to  materials such as FL newspapers online and write comments directly on those sites.
  • Instead of asking students to write text-based stories in the classroom, the teacher can ask students to write digital-stories using  photos from Flickr on sites like BookrBubblr or Stupeflix.
  • Instead of having students fill in speech bubbles on teacher-supplied comics, teachers can ask students to create their own comics using sites like GoAnimate or Dvolver.
There is no doubt that Puentedura's conceptualization of how technology can not only enhance but transform  teaching has helped me immensely.  You can go to As We May Teach on iTunes to learn more about his ideas.  #change11

1 comment:

Kelly Edmonds said...

Thanks, Maryanne, for your ideas on developing more transformative learning. I like how technology is providing ways for student to be more creative. Creative and innovative thinking is key for our complex and connected world.

Your activity ideas show how a learner can move from a single exercise to one that is multilayered with a more creative outcome using rapid learning technologies (i.e. takes less skill and know-how than older design software).

One thing I noticed with my college students is they need to be shown how to use some of these tools and the expected outcome of the activity. The digital native is apparently not as adept at tech tools than thought so guidance, models and patience would be needed to help bring them to that creative level.

I think this might be a generational phenomenon as well. Perhaps younger children, than current college students, might be more use to different learning and design tools.