Monday, April 11, 2011

Pinch Hitting

From the free dictionary


intr.v. pinch-hit, pinch-hit·ting, pinch-hits

1. Baseball To bat in place of a player scheduled to bat, especially when a hit is badly needed.

2. Informal To substitute for another in a time of need.

It was pointed out to me the other day that we ICT Integrators are pinch hitters. Since this was a sports reference I looked at him blankly. But after some discussion I came to realise what he meant.

Before you take offence on our behalf, let me introduce you to a model I really like using in ICT Integration. It's called the SAMR model (link to a presentation by Puentedura outlining SAMR). SAMR was developed by Puentedura and stands for Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition. It can be used to assess your ICT integration to determine whether you're using technology to modify current styles of teaching or to transform. We have some brilliant transformative projects at our school and I feel privileged to be part of some of them.

Our job as ICT Integrators is to help teachers come up with projects that will use technology in the modification and redefinition levels of the SAMR model. They know their content matter and we know the technology and together we seek excellence in pedagogy. (this is s reference to the TPCK model also in the Puentedura presentation). It takes time, research and thought to come up with a good redefining project.

In a presentation the other day I was reminded of a fabulous excerpt from a speech by Ken Robinson about changing education paradigms…

I love this talk and I agree that we should shift education to be more tailored and purposeful and less standardized. I even trust that a good technology enabled project achieves some of what Ken Robinson is talking about (if only on a micro level).

However, I am not only an ICT integrator. I still teach classes on technology and as such I get a daily reminder of what classes are like around the clock. I introduce technology enabled projects for my own classes but at the same time I have to cover dry syllabus content and have slightly less enthusiastic students who need to be dragged through projects or less able students who need more structure than others and much more scaffolding.

This is the reason that my colleague said that ICT Integrators were pinch hitters. We don't often follow through to the exam, we don't have to mark the work of students who despite all our efforts didn't really "get it". ICT Integrators have magical powers. We do the work, we prepare the resources, we enter the classroom with enthusiasm and we signify to the students that this is not going to be a normal lesson. This means that we see the kids at their best; at their most engaged... and then we walk away.

What can we do about it? I think the only thing we can do is realise that we are pinch hitters. We should run the engaging projects, consult on the uses of technology in the classroom, encourage teachers to shift their teaching practices but realise that the other teachers have to be there all the time, even when they have to deliver the less interesting stuff. We need to not spend our time telling other teachers that if they only used more technology projects that their students would be engaged all of the time. I love my job but even I'm not engaged all the time; sometimes I'm reading what Conan O'Brien (@ConanOBrien) just said on twitter.

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