While pursuing teaching degrees, educators are introduced to various learning theorists and their insights into how people learn best. Some familiar names include Piaget, Bandura, Vygotsky and Gardner.
While understanding these learning theories is still important, aspiring educators also need to become familiar with theories, models, and approaches that provide insight into how technology, social media, and the Internet impact learning. Digital learning theories and approaches, such as RAT (opens in new tab), SAMR (opens in new tab), TPACK (opens in new tab), Digital flourishes (opens in new tab), Connectivism (opens in new tab), Design thinking (opens in new tab) and Peeragogy (opens in new tab) help teachers develop curriculum that engages students to use technology to research, curate, annotate, create, innovate, problem-solve, collaborate, campaign, reform and think critically. These are skills outlined in Shelly Terrell’s Hacking Digital Learning Strategies with EdTech Missions (opens in new tab).
Digital learning approaches take into account what students are currently doing online and allow teachers to design curricula to help students gain the digital skills they need to thrive in a digitally connected world.
Below are some useful links to find out more about these approaches.
1. The RAT model
The RAT model is a way of looking at technology and how it has or has not changed instruction. The “R” stands for replacement, and in this form of instruction, technology simply replaces a previous tool for instruction, but in no way changes the instructional practice or learning that occurs. The “A” is augmentation, which refers to when classroom instructional practices remain the same, but the use of technology increases the effectiveness and efficiency or reach of the lesson. “T” is transformation, and is when technology is used to reinvent certain aspects of teaching in new and innovative ways.
2. SAMR (opens in new tab)
The SAMR model stands for substitution, augmentation, modification and redefinition and looks at four levels of technical implementation. Educators often tend to focus on the first two levels, essentially converting previous teaching practices into a technological format: for example, recording a lecture and posting it online or posting PDFs of previously printed materials. The other two levels involve using technology to more fundamentally change teaching.
3. The TPACK framework
TPACK stands for technological, pedagogical and content knowledge. The framework examines the interplay between three grouped areas of content knowledge (CK), pedagogy (PK), and technology (TK), and examines how these areas intersect. Although often compared to SAMR, they are quite different models, with TPACK being a less linear way of thinking about incorporating technology into education.
4. Digital flourishes (opens in new tab)
Bloom’s Taxonomy was created by Benjamin Bloom and his collaborators in the 1950s as a framework for categorizing educational goals, often depicted as a pyramid, with each level requiring higher levels of thinking to achieve mastery. Over time, the original nouns used by Bloom and colleagues were replaced with active verbs. Now at the bottom of the pyramid is the word remember and it builds up to apply, analyze, evaluate and create. The new framework has also been updated to incorporate technology.
Introduced in 2005 by George Siemens and Stephen Downes, this learning theory posits that students must learn to combine thoughts, theories, and other information in a useful way. The theory is based on the idea that technology has increased the speed of our access to information, and our constant connectivity should be leveraged to help students make choices about learning, collaborating, and learning from a variety of sources, including social media sources.
6. Design Thinking
Popularized by technology companies, design thinking takes engineering and artistic processes and applies these to other areas, such as education. Using this framework, educators and students can identify challenges, gather information, generate potential solutions, refine ideas, and test solutions. This framework can be useful for planning departments, schools or teams, as well as class planning or for individual lessons.
As any educator can tell you, there is no such thing as peer learning. Peeragogy, also known as paraagogy, is a collection of best practices for peer-to-peer learning that seeks to help educators overcome some of the obstacles to effective peer learning, such as peers who do not produce helpful and/or supportive feedback.
Challenge: Explore one of these digital learning theories to see how you can make at least one change and improve the way you integrate technology.
The original version of this story was cross-posted at teacherrebootcamp.com (opens in new tab)
Shelly Terrell is an educational consultant, technology trainer and author. read more on teacherrebootcamp.com (opens in new tab)