The more recent Learning and Leading has an article authored by Judi Harris and colleagues. There are certain writers who have promoted core ideas that appeal to me and Harris is one. She has a concept – activity types – that makes sense to me as an important idea in professional development. Rather than promoting specific examples she proposes that educators think in terms of categories of activities. I have always understood the purpose of this approach as an attempt to steer folks away from the duplication of specific examples which may or may not be appropriate for their unique situations. Instead, the idea is to understand tasks at a more general level. I am guessing the use of examples in instruction is typically not attempt to promote the exact same task, but does it come across in this fashion? Harris and others have established a wiki to outline the various activity structures they have identified.
So, this distinction between activity types and examples has caused me to consider what structural variables guide my own thinking. Sometimes I think such organizational patterns exist but we fail to reflect enough on our own thinking to externalize these patterns. Here is an initial effort.
I think I organize my take on tech integration in terms of:
- Conceptual frameworks – e.g., authoring to learn, 21st century skills
- Tactics (something like activity structures),
So, authoring to learn is a general generative framework that assumes students can be encouraged to process content they have experienced by explaining this content to others. This process can be accomplished using various tools (e.g., podcast, wiki, blog). Various pedagogical strategies (cooperative learning, editing, discussion) can be employed in implementing a given project. Of course, to explain various nuances of the combination of framework, tool and tactic, it is likely useful to use multiple examples to illustrate various combinations and the strengths and weaknesses of each.
I wonder how teachers make instructional decisions. Is there a process to what they decide to do? Would a structured approach help?