Do you really “think different”?


In 1997 Apple launched their new advertising campaign titled Think Different.  It was aimed at the people that used Apple products as the ones that were creators, as Apple called them, “the crazy ones’.

As I look at education now and the influx of technology I can see a whole host of “crazy” people out there, true inventors of new things in their classrooms.  From using iPad to restructuring learning opportunities beyond the classroom.  It is what Apple appeared to be promoting and is why we have the cool toys that we have in our classrooms today.

When thinking about real change and the use of technology we look at the SAMR model.  Substitution, Augmentation, Modification and Redefinition.  These areas are thought provoking steps to some extent to help people think about what they are using the technology for.

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When using the SAMR model it is easy to lose track of the purpose for what you started to do in the first place.  Are you trying to integrate technology into your classroom?  Or are you ultimately trying to redefine the classroom with the help of technology?

For me this is the biggest question, if you are simply trying to use tech because it is the new thing then ultimately it will fade and things will not have changed.  For me “Think Different” means to really look at what we teach, why we teach and then how we teach.

The greatest educators that have inspired me along my way have been those that truly believe in the children and want to provide the best education they can.  This is not necessarily mean grades but provide the whole child with inspiration, opportunity for creativity, a chance to explore and find their own path and so much more.

When looking at PE I always felt that there was so much more I could offer children, There were always children that did not like sport, that had passions elsewhere and at times the PE curriculum openly failed them.  I had had a mixed experience of PE  in school.  I loved PE but had friends who were alienated by the “traditional” PE lessons, they did not fit the mould so were excluded.  Tis ultimately meant they switched off from activity.  I always wanted to offer more than simply teaching sport.

The only thing that held me back was ultimately the lack of technology available to me.

As soon as I started using technology I could see the potential to offer more in my lessons, to truly transform what I was offering and engage more students.  Using video analysis I could develop students understanding of their skills and offer them ways to help each other.  No longer did students have to ‘perform’ to be noticed but they could shine in other ways.

This approach led me to look at how the curriculum could be adapted, how could I still fulfil what had to be taught but also teach what was needed?

Technology helped this process significantly.  My lessons were now able to have more context and offered real learning experiences.  If we were looking at creating health and safety guides, we actually made them so they could be used.  For example we made apps that could be put on peoples phones so that they had resources to help people that were injured, as opposed to the posters we once made that just went on a wall.

Now I look at all of the technology available and the potential it could have to really shape students of the future.  We do not need students that can repeat information asked of them.  We need students that can take that information and redefine it.

Take a look at why you use the tech and ask.  Am I really Thinking Differently?

Start with a model for what you think a student should be.  Shape that vision and inter weave the curriculum you have to teach.  Then look at how technology can help redefine it.  Can you take students outside to learn?, can you bring the local community in? Can you transport them to another part of the world (virtually).

The apps will change all the time, there are thousands to chose from, but your vision needs to remain solid.  What is your platform for students to share work?  How do they reflect on their progress?  What opportunities are there for creativity?

Take a look at Dales Cone and see what opportunities technology can bring to make learning more engaging.

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Finally ask yourself, are you one of the crazy ones?

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