The Architect of Learning
A Paper Presented at
Las Vegas, Nevada
University of Calgary
Abstract: Governments have called teachers to adopt a new role and use technology differently to support a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. A challenge for teachers is that at the same time rapid technological changes have increased the likelihood that they will have to grapple with unfamiliar technology. This paper reports on key findings taken from, Unfamiliar Technology and the Architect of Learning: A Case Study. The findings revealed that the role of teachers was like an architect of learning. This role embodied a constructivist foundation. In this role three teachers made sense of Apple’s iPad (unfamiliar technology). The teachers’ individual capacity to be open to the potential of the iPad and a supportive collaborative culture were key enablers for making this possible. While limitations of time, infrastructure, and opportunities for teacher learning challengedthe teachers to engage with unfamiliar technology, enablers had a more positive impact in facilitating the process of sense making than constraints had on limiting it. In other words, for the teachers in the study, constraints were not seen as barriers to making sense of unfamiliar technology. This paper highlights the role of architect of learning within its constructivist framework and proposes an interconnected responsibility to bolster teacher capacity to become architects of learning in order to grapple with new and emerging technology.
It has been suggested that the role of teachers be reworked “from knowledge authority to an architect of learning - one who plans, designs and oversees learning activities” (Government of Alberta, 2010a, p. 7) while at the same time there has been a call for teachers to use technology differently to support a constructivist approach (Glassett & Schrum, 2009; Howland, Jonassen, & Marra, 2012). Educational technology research has also identified many barriers for teachers to integrate new and emerging technology in their teaching and learning environments (Allen, 2008; Ertmer, 2005; Glassett & Schrum, 2009; Olsen, Recker, Robertshaw, Sellers, & Walker, 2011; Schoepp, 2004). The architect of learning is a metaphor used to describe the role and context of teachers within a constructivist approach to teaching and learning. An architect designs the plans from which others will build (Shepherd, 2011). A teacher/architect oversees learning and is mindful of an interior and exterior view. They design and plan activities that maximize internal personalized learning experiences while directing their students outward to scan the horizon for connections with others and prior life experiences. In this role the teacher uses “new technologies as designers and creators of knowledge” (Government of Alberta, 2010a, p. 29). A challenge for teachers as UNESCO (2008) has reported is that our relationship with digital technology is dramatically transforming the way we live in the world. The rise of the knowledge economy, as well the rapid technological changes have also increased the likelihood that both new and experienced teachers will regularly come in contact with new and emerging [unfamiliar] technology (Willis, 2001). The architect role also reflects the notion that, “technology makes things possible, people make things happen” (Government of Alberta, 2010b, p. 23). The task for teachers is to provide enriched learning experiences in a responsive environment where the learning need drives the use and choice of technology. This role also incorporates the idea that if the changing nature of technology is to be beneficial, new and emerging (unfamiliar) technologies will have to be explored by teachers.
This paper reports on key findings taken from, Unfamiliar Technology and the Architect of Learning: A Case Study. Findings revealed that the role of teachers within a constructivist teaching and learning environment was like an architect of learning. This paper will highlight the attributes of this role and the environment that supported the teacher participants in the descriptive case study. It will also propose an interconnected responsibility to bolster teacher capacity to become architects of learning.
The study Unfamiliar Technology and the Architect of Learning: A Case Study was situated within a constructivist framework. Constructivism proposes that learning is a complex process that is influenced by the learner’s needs and desires. Learning is directed with the teacher’s guidance within the context of the teaching and learning environment. In this environment it is possible for the teacher to participate in the learning process, not just deliver information for the student to consume (Dewey, 1938; Duffy & Cunningham, 1996; Molenda, Rezabek, & Robinson, 2008). The focus is on a process for learners to make connections in a whole world of meaning. The role of the teacher is like an architect of learning, “one who plans, designs and oversees learning activities (Government of Alberta, 2010a, p. 7). In this role teachers “strive to create environments where learners actively participate in the environment in ways that are intended to help them construct their own knowledge” (Jonassen, 1994, para. 13). Constructivists stress the importance of self-awareness of learning and knowing. It is a process of construction in which conflict of understanding leads to puzzlement and questions. These questions, McKenzie (2000) has related, help us to make sense of the world. McKenzie also explained that in a constructivist tradition, questions might be our “most powerful tools when it comes to making decisions and solving problems, for inventing, changing and improving our lives” (p. 1).
Duffy and Cunningham (1996) have noted that constructivism is an umbrella term for a wide range of ideas. The common elements for education are learning as an active process of construction rather than of acquiring knowledge, and instruction as a process that supports construction, not simply transmission, of knowledge (p. 2). Knowledge is built on a capacity for knowledge construction. The common ground of constructivism invites us to contemplate a world full of meaning to make sense of our experience with it. Constructivism is perhaps best summed up by von Glasersfeld’s (1989) statement that “instead of presupposing knowledge is a representation of what exists, knowledge is a mapping, in the light of human experience, of what is feasible” (p. 134). On this map there is a focus on the whole teaching and learning environment where individuals are to be open to multiple perspectives and interpretation (Jonassen, 1992, p. 137).
Jonassen et al. (2000) stated that meaningful learning in this light follows a process that is experiential and reflective. Duffy and Cunningham (1996) have stated, “we do not assume that we must have a common meaning, but rather we actively seek to understand the different perspectives” (p. 2). For example, in the classroom a teacher might highlight to her class how an individual student’s experience is unique, yet through classroom conversation other students might see connections to their own similar experiences. Through dialogue, students can determine how closely their experiences are shared. Teachers can then challenge student thinking to become sensitive to diverse thought. The teaching and learning process might begin when the teacher designs conditions where questions are addressed. This does not mean that the teacher will hide the answers in the activity where the student can find them like a game of hide and seek. Instead, teachers plan activities where there really is more than one right answer. “Knowledge is not a matter of getting it right but rather acquiring habits of action for coping with reality” (Rorty as cited in Duffy & Cunningham, 1996, p. 1). Duffy and Cunningham (1996) have also related that in this sociocultural approach, learning occurs as people participate in shared endeavours and collective action. As architects of learning, teachers participate in the learning in their classrooms, they do not just interpret the world and have their students repeat back what they have been told. Teaching and learning is a negotiated understanding, that we know what we know with and from each other and the world. Constructivism is built on a sense of individual and social responsibility (Jonassen, Hernadez-Serrano, & Choi, 2000). This suggests that each individual way of making sense of the world is valid but reality is socially constructed (Crotty, 1998; Merriam, 2009). Perhaps the students will uncover a solution that the teacher has not yet thought of. Understanding then is an outcome of the learning process and the teacher is part of the process. Learning is achieved through negotiation within and among the community of learners. The learner questions, seeks different perspectives, judges viability, and comes to a shared understanding from what makes sense.
Howland, Jonassen, and Marra (2012) have used the term meaningful learning to describe a process of learning through inquiry. With its interrelated, interactive, and interdependent characteristics, meaningful learning, they say, is active, constructive, intentional, authentic, and collaborative. In this way Howland et al. have related that technology becomes a “partner in the learning process” (p. 7). Meaningful learning happens with technology, not because of it. They suggest technology can be thought of as an intellectual partner in the learning process. Derry (2008) also believes that the principle of design of technology-enhanced learning environments should have a learning-driven focus and not a technocentric one. Learning should drive the use of technology, not the other way around. The architect of learning might view technology as a pathway for understanding, not a delivery vehicle. The architect of learning promotes meaningful learning with technology by encouraging learning through conversing and collaborating with others (Howland et al., 2012). Howland et al. (2012) redirect the attention of meaningful learning away from the hype of technology and argue that teachers must treat technology as a partner in the learning process. In this light, technology is more than a device. “Technology consists also of the designs and environments that engage learners” (p. 7). As a pathway for understanding, digital media might spark student creativity and action. Technology then has the potential to engage, facilitate, and form a non-linear place to support the teaching and learning process. Using technology in this way then might broaden our human capacity to learn. To the architect an intellectual partner supports an individual in reflecting and processing the dissonance between what they perceive and what they think they know as a meaning-making event. Resolution ensures some ownership of the knowledge constructed. The focus then becomes more on how technology supports the human process of teaching and learning and less on a means to an end and flashy technocentric thinking.
Given the complexity of human behaviours, attitudes, and beliefs, the study was designed to utilize a descriptive case study methodology. This approach was an effective strategy to capture the openness of experience in its natural setting. What came from getting to know the case was, an enhanced understanding of the capacity of teachers to be like architects and the potential of the constructivist environment that invited facility. The case provided a rich description of the role and the three teachers’ capacity to use unfamiliar technology. It also provided an awareness of the interconnected responsibilities to bolster teacher capacity.
The descriptive case study, Unfamiliar Technology and the Architect of Learning was designed to explore two main questions: 1) How do teachers make sense of new and emerging technology to enhance teaching and learning? 2) How might these teachers’ insights inform strategies to support the implementation of a new technology in teaching and learning? The methods of data collection used to address these questions were interview, observation, and informal dialogue. The study was concerned with teacher experience with unfamiliar technology as a process. Underpinning this approach was a constructivist theoretical framework: that knowledge is a social and interpretive process. From this perspective the study was “without expectation of causal explanation” (Stake, 1995, p. 38). It was not designed to test theory, compare, or measure anything quantitatively (Merriam, 2009). The study recognized that the experience of sense making involved more than teachers simply physically finding room on their shelf for a new technology.
As the researcher, I focused on the interactions between the other available technology, the teaching and learning process and the process of sense making not just for the individual but in the social context. I designed the study to capture happenings, expand knowledge, and inform broader understanding beyond the case (Merriam, 2009; Stake, 1995). With this pragmatic focus, the research had several synergetic goals: a) to describe teacher experience with unfamiliar technology and the context of their experience; b) to explore possible motivations, tensions, and affordances to entertain unfamiliar technology; and c) to interpret these events as lessons learned in order to develop ideas for support and further study. I was guided by Creswell’s (2009) recommendation to gather data from multiple sources directly in the school environment. Triangulation using multiple sources can also enhance the validity and reliability of the study (Merriam, 2009). Evidence was collected from a range of sources: face-to-face interviews; participant-observation; documents; and artifacts of both digital and hardcopy classroom documents.
The data were collected from three different teachers in two different schools in a Western Canadian city over a four month period. In School One two teachers taught in grade 3-4 classrooms and in School Two the teacher taught grade 7. At the time of the study, iPads were completely new to the teaching and learning environment as they were first available in Canada only in the Spring of 2010.
Through analysis of the interview and observation data, three factors emerged. First, the teachers capacity as architects was seen as a key enabler. The attributes of this capacity that emerged were seen as an internal quality that enabled the teachers to entertain unfamiliar technology. Each of the three teachers had an individual capacity to be open to the possibilities the iPad might present. They chose to learn about the iPad in their own time as well as with and in front of their students. They reported believing that technology could support their students in becoming life-long learners. All three teachers expressed that learning came first and that they valued technology as a tool for learning. They believed that providing their students with choice of technology would lead to a deeper understanding of its power. The three teachers had a collaborative spirit not just with their colleagues but also with their students. They also demonstrated flexibility and judgement. The architect of learning role opens teachers to be participants in the teaching and learning environment. As learners the three teachers took time to play with the iPad as a personal device in an informal learning environment prior to its introduction at their schools. This gave the three teachers an opportunity to form a positive relationship with the iPad before bringing it to the students. Further, the three teachers seemed to see the real potential of the iPad by adding it to the classroom collection of digital devices and letting their students decide for themselves what technology was the right choice to serve their needs.
The teachers’ sense making did not occur in isolation. A second enabling factor was that the role of architect of learning embodies a constructivist foundation. In this role the three teachers made sense of the iPad with their students as intellectual partners, not by making the iPad the centre of their teaching. Contextual factors in the school environment also facilitated the teachers’ capacity to try out new things. In both schools a structure was in place to support a collaborative culture. The three teachers had professional learning opportunities within a reflective collaborative culture. They had administrative allowances for flexibility and support from the school district. IT technicians kept software up-to-date. The teachers had a choice of technology and to some degree the school district supplied teacher learning support.
A third factor that emerged was while constraints of time, infrastructure, and limited opportunities for teacher learning challenged the teachers to engage with unfamiliar technology. It was apparent that external and internal enablers had a more positive impact in facilitating the process of sense making than the constraints had on limiting it. In other words, for the teachers in the study, the constraints were not seen as barriers to making sense of unfamiliar technology.
The findings suggested that the architect of learning role within a constructivist framework supported the teachers to make sense of an unfamiliar technology. In an effort to highlight the attributes of the architect of learning the discussion will focus on the teachers role and their responsibilities in their teaching and learning environment.
In the role of Architect of Learning the three teachers found the capacity to infuse an unfamiliar technology into their teaching and learning environment. In this role the three teachers expressed the feeling that their function was not to deliver knowledge but to mentor, guide and participate in social knowledge construction in their classrooms. Although conventional responsibilities of teaching were observed, the interview and observation data revealed many new and altered responsibilities for these teachers. The responsibilities are discussed separately but are recognized as inter-related. It is this collection that make up the many attributes of the teacher/architect. They are discussed in order of frequency of observation as follows: (1) personalized learning; (2) collaborative citizenship; (3) life-long learning; (4) multiple literacy; (5) technology as a partner in learning; and (6) critical thinking.
In the role of architect of learning, the task for teachers is to provide a student-centred approach to instruction. The most frequent responsibility observed was personalized learning “with flexible timing and pacing through a range of learning environments” (Government of Alberta, 2010b, p. 14). In an attempt to foster a positive classroom climate, the three teachers developed personal relationships with their students. They took time to talk individually to their students about what was important to them. The teachers designed active experiential learning activities with authentic, real problems with real world objects. They designed activities that met the diverse learning needs in their students. One teacher spoke of the importance for his students to have choices in real world activities and to share their discoveries with each other. From the interview and observation data the following attributes emerged regarding this responsibility: the teachers’ (a) honoured student voice in how learning was approached and presented; (b) designed active learning activities that had an element of real life; (c) provided opportunities for self-discovery; (d) organized flexible learning spaces; and (e) responded to multiple forms of feedback.
Teachers are tasked to design activities where students worked together to advance classroom community goals (Government of Alberta, 2010b, p. 11). From the interview and observation data, the following attributes emerged with regard to this responsibility: a) teachers designed collaborative activities and work spaces; and b) when appropriate, authority and leadership were shared between students and teachers in the classroom. Students worked with learning partners or in small groups for most activities. The three teachers relinquished some of their conventional authority in the way they taught.
In the role of architect of learning, the teacher’s task is to inspire in their students a strong sense of self and confidence to “act autonomously” (Government of Alberta, 2010b, p. 11). From the data, the following attributes emerged with regard to this responsibility: teachers’ (a) managed a self-directed learning environment; (b) provided opportunities for student leadership; (c) held students accountable for responsible choices; and the teachers’ (d) valued self-assessment. The teachers created environments for self-directed learning in which the objectives and strategies were discussed throughout the learning activities. Students were made aware of potential classroom resources, and it was clear that personal devices such as iPod were acceptable. As well, evaluation criteria such as rubrics were crafted with student participation. The teachers fostered a self-directed environment and organized a self-serve classroom with supplies and iPads in convenient locations. They reported seeing themselves as facilitators of the learning experience rather than as information providers. During observation when students did come to the teachers for help in solving problems, they each encouraged student independence. The students needed to grapple with their own learning.
The teachers provided opportunities for students to practice leadership skills, mentoring with reading buddies, student-of-the-week, and they encouraged student participation in decision making. During one of the work sessions a student was playing a game app instead of attending to his role. While he was playing, another student took a leadership role and quietly took his iPad, deleted the app, and confidently returned it to him. She felt it was distracting him from focusing on the group’s task. The game-playing student accepted her intervention with a shrug of his shoulders and returned to work. Student leadership gave students a sense of belonging.
The teachers nurtured student responsibility. I observed the teachers’ usual playful manner swiftly shift to a no nonsense approach when it was required. The teachers took students who were making irresponsible choices aside without humiliation to suggest strategies on how they could work differently. I observed class discussions on respect, global citizenship and wise choices when choosing partners. Students also took a share in the responsibility of managing the charging of iPads which gave them a sense of ownership.
The teachers gained feedback on student progress with a range of assessment tools that included the students’ perspectives. In reporting to parents one teacher included student self-assessment. The students also used graphic organizers to learn about self-assessment and worked through a role-playing exercise to help them prepare for the student-led interviews with their parents.
In the role of architect of learning, a task for teachers is to provide their students with opportunities to read and to express themselves in a variety of contexts including “current and emerging information and communication technologies” (Government of Alberta, 2010b, p. 11). In classroom observations, students worked with text as well as with images and digital media. The teachers gave their students opportunities to work through problems in a visual journal. The visual journal was used in a cross-curricular manner but accessed most often for solving mathematics inquiries. The students used the visual journals for art but also to draw diagrams, make charts, and mind map emerging ideas. One teacher encouraged her students to make personal choices for story planning and story telling supported by a collection of graphic organizers, visual journals, and multimedia tools (e.g., Comic Life, iPhoto, Keynote). Students sampled different tools of expression and worked in a variety of group situations as directed by the teacher. Students used iPads with apps such as Garageband, Doodle Buddy, Toontastic, and Comic Strip to explore literary expression and to develop and produce digital stories. At School Two the teacher created digital content with his colleagues to present historical obstacles. During the student presentation that I observed, some students had made movies, Power Points, and image slideshows to represent their understanding. In other situations I observed students working through mathematics problems in their visual journals. The three teachers not only wanted their students to access various forms of information but also to be creators of and critical thinkers about information by engaging with various forms of communication.
Technology as an Intellectual Partner
In the role of architect of learning, another responsibility is to allow technology to function as a “partner in learning” (Howland et al., 2012, p. 7). From the interview and observation data the following attributes emerged: (a) technology was used to cultivate creative thinking and action, (b) technology supported assessment, (c) technology was accessed to support the process of knowledge construction, and (d) a variety of technological resources were accessible for students to choose from.
The teachers used technology to spark creative action. One teacher projected storybook video from an online collection of animated talking picture books for students to see. Instead of allowing students to be passive listeners, she used the experience to cultivate learning about story elements. She was able to stop the story at various points when she wanted to highlight a literary device or make connections to other stories. This activity sparked dialogue. Further she collected student-generated ideas on chart paper. The students were able to use these ideas to create their own story plans with their learning partners. Another teacher presented a science concept with a YouTube video. The students’ task was to write a hypothesis of what they saw. The students were free to talk to each other and ask questions. The teacher guided the students by stopping and starting the video while narrating using the vocabulary he wanted them to use in their writing. The teachers also used technology to balance performance assessment for grading. One teacher used her iPad to record her students during a benchmark reading assessment. She was able to observe her students using reading strategies during the test and revisited the recording to test for accuracy. This method, she reported, gave her richer and more meaningful data about how her students were learning to read, as well as valuable feedback with which to support them. Another teacher used the grading feature in the learning management tool, Desire 2 Learn (D2L) to manage, track, and report student progress. This tool helped him to understand which students needed more support and also to provide feedback not just to the students but also to their parents well before the end of a reporting period.
The teachers used technology to support the construction of personal and community understanding. One teacher used a Word document projected on the interactive whiteboard to capture brainstormed ideas about a finished presentation. With the help of her students, she then turned these collected ideas into a rubric to guide the completion of the student project. Another teacher used D2L as controllable space for knowledge construction. He found that by posing questions in the online discussion forum of D2L, he could easily monitor and track the conversation. The asynchronous nature of the conversation made it possible for his students to have the opportunity to think and then speak, thus giving the students a different level of participation than was possible in the face-to-face classroom. He also uploaded videos (historical obstacles) in D2L which allowed students to revisit the video when needed in order to work through problems.
The teachers also allowed students to access a variety of conveniently located technology. This resulted in students using iPads, laptops, classroom computers, interactive whiteboards, a document camera, and personal iPods in both classrooms. One teacher said her students “need to be able to walk into a situation and just adapt to it.” She felt what would make them successful was an ability to think critically about an appropriate piece of technology to efficiently support their needs. She explained, “It’s not about the invention as much as it’s about its use. There is a part of innovation that is about the quality of the invention but what is most important in innovation is how it is used in the classroom.” She felt it was important to plan opportunities for students to interact with technology in personal ways, “to learn what works and what doesn’t from the experience, so they can discover what is best for them based on need.” She said, “When students start thinking with the innovation and have experience with different kinds of technology then they have a power from that choice, it becomes a big thing…. It is not about choosing the right tool for the job; it is more about exploring the right tool for you in your personal situation.”
In the role of architect of learning, the task for teachers is to create the conditions for students to “critically analyze and synthesize information” (Government of Alberta, 2010b, p. 10). From the interview and observation data, it became clear that the conditions included opportunities for students to: (a) think deeply, make connections, identify patterns, and solve problems; (b) judge for themselves how to navigate information from digital and face-to-face sources; and (c) have the freedom to make mistakes and reflect on their choices.
In a large group situation, one teacher used a questioning strategy to help her grade 3-4 students dig deeper to generate a collection of story element ideas. When reading stories, she used probing questions to help expand understandings. She did not accept passive listening. Gently she said, “I’m going to pick on you.” During a reading of the story Zero (Otoshi, 2010), she stopped to point out connections to prior classroom experiences. “What do you see? What don’t you see?” At the end she asked, “What was the story about?” While validating the initial comments, she then tried to pull more information and ideas out of the students by using questions such as: “What are some other thoughts?…What does it make you think of?” She read a second book by the same author in order for the students to compare and make connections between the character and their own life.
As described in the Personalized Learning section, the interview and observation data suggested that the three teachers valued student choice. Students judged for themselves what tools to use. One teacher said, “Teachers can’t separate what they teach from the world.” He felt that learning for his students was not about gaining knowledge. “What I want to do is give them the tools to think critically, navigate, judge, and live well in the world.” The teachers wanted their students to make up their own minds in their choice of technology while occasionally encouraging the students to try something new.
One teacher told me that they structured formal time after activities for students to reflect on their technology choices. “Did this tool work for you?…Why did it?…What might be better next time?” Another teacher said, “I wait for the students to come to me.” He said he knew an experience was effective “when they come to me all excited, Look at this, look at this! I want them to grapple with that when it makes sense to them.” This reflection was meant to help the students recognize strengths and weaknesses in their reasoning.
A key lesson taken from this study is that, it is unlikely that the implementation of any new technology will be successful without, first, a willingness on the part of the teacher to entertain unfamiliar technology. The greater educational community can support the implementation of new and emerging technology by bolstering teachers’ capacity to deal with it. A second lesson recognizes that teachers (not the technology) are agents of change in practice. It is essential to invite teacher participation into the implementation process and to listen to their concerns. A third lesson acknowledges implementation is a learning process. One size will not fit all; as learners, teachers need to personalize their approach to unfamiliar technology. Teachers will need ways of understanding and addressing the constraints that new and emerging technology generally bring with it.
The three teachers, each in their own way, made sense of the iPad as architects within a similar collection of internal and external enablers. While constraints were seen as frustrating, the data suggested the three teachers had an internal quality (teacher capacity) to over look the constraints and successfully use unfamiliar technology. They did so mainly through their own determinations, as they were more than willing to spend the extra effort to learn and use the iPad. The three teachers were committed to life-long learning, they had skills, knowledge and experience teaching with technology. They had a belief in the value of technology. They were flexible towards diversity and change and they had a collaborative spirit. The three teachers were willing to entertain unfamiliar technology, they even referred to it as fun. In a role of architect of learning, the task for teachers is to design enriched learning experiences within a responsive environment where the learning need drives the use and choice of technology. This role incorporates the idea that if the changing nature of technology is to be beneficial, new and emerging (unfamiliar) technologies will have to be explored by teachers.
The study revealed an enhanced understanding of the potential of the capacity of teachers as architects. In this role, the value of the iPad did not drive its use in the classroom. Rather, it was the pursuit of knowledge that determined how and why the iPad was used. The implication for teachers is a commitment to life-long learning, a willingness to act, and an openness to possibilities. Teachers who do not have the opportunity to see themselves as learners will find it more and more difficult to cope with the ever-changing landscape influenced by educational technology. Therefore, a need is revealed to empower teachers with dynamic professional development experiences that are personally meaningful as well as connected in a collaborative culture of lifelong learning.
The observation and interview data also revealed that the three teachers made sense of unfamiliar technology within a constructivist teaching and learning environment that reinforced their beliefs about teaching and learning. The three teachers made sense of the iPad with their students as intellectual partners. They also participated in a supportive collaborative culture. An implication of this suggests it is not enough to focus only on the device when making sense of unfamiliar technology and putting new technology in classrooms will not automatically lead to meaningful use. The study also underlines the importance of teachers’ participation in the process of teaching and learning. However tempting it might be to focus on the hype and glamour of new gadgets, the focus should remain on the constructivist process of teaching and learning.
How then might we bolster every teachers capacity to become architects of learning? School districts, school administrators and teachers each need to approach this issue as an interconnected responsibility to nourish the development of this role. The process of bolstering teacher capacity will benefit first, if teachers can build personal pathways for sense making of unfamiliar technology. Teachers can think of themselves as participants in the learning of their classroom. Consider how you are committed to life-long learning and how this might reveal itself in your teaching. As a teacher what opportunities can you create to learn in front of their students. How can you to take advantage of their experience and demonstrate how to grapple with unfamiliar technology? Teachers also need to experience the same affordances that they themselves provide for their students by following constructivist learning principles in their professional development. School administrators can consider how their current teaching and learning environment invites the development of teacher/architect. How are your teachers able to personalize their own learning? While technological change continues to accelerate and takes a broader role in our classrooms, how can you provided time for teachers and make it fun for them to make sense of unfamiliar technology within their work day? School districts can also consider how the jurisdictions’ human and technology infrastructure is flexible enough to cope with new and emerging technology. How are teachers allowed to grapple with constraints within their teaching and learning environment?
Dewey (1916) noted that in a democratic society we should make provision for participation. Education, Dewey envisioned, should give individuals a personal interest in social relationships and control. MacDonald and Shirley (2009) also contend that the situation for teachers only improves when they themselves have opportunities to become more reflective. As society adopts new technologies, teachers have an obligation to bring them into their classrooms. If the journey is valued over the arrival, if curiosity is valued over the object discovered, if exploration is valued over acquisition of knowledge, and if we shift value away from the glamour of new technology as these teachers did, something different happens. While the three teachers were provided with affordances for learning, most importantly they saw themselves capable of it and jumped at the opportunity to learn.
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