The 4 Cs of Technology Integration
If you Google "four c's of technology integration" you’ll get links to a myriad of "c-words" including Creativity/Creation, Consumption, Curation, Connection, Collaboration, Communication and Critical Thinking. All of these are important elements of learning and can be enhanced with the use of technology, but for the sake of this article, I am going to focus more on what devices themselves can do, so my four C's are the following:
Creation: Allowing students to use technology for creation purposes allows them to tap their creative juices for presentations of knowledge learned. There are an unending number of ways this can be done via apps and websites. (See this spreadsheet for some of my favorites). Opportunities for creation are only limited by your students’ inability to think creatively and any limitation you as a teacher place on your students. I am a fan of not limiting the students and allowing them to choose how they want to "present." A well-written rubric allows a teacher to grade any content in any type of presentation fairly. I prefer one rubric for any presentation style, but Kathy Schrock has a great list of rubrics herethat you might find helpful when creating rubrics for yourself.
Consumption: Allowing students to use technology to ascertain large amounts of knowledge gets a bum rap at times. When iPads first came out, there was a large, vocal group of people who said, "All you can do on an iPad is consume." But since the iPad’s launch, app makers have changed how we view devices. I think the educational community has felt the need to stand up for the iPad so much that many have stopped seeing the value of using technology for consumption. This article is a great read that looks at both sides of the issue.
I love the fact that I can read on a device, because it is always with me. I also find great, daily value in watching YouTube videos to learn more. As a teacher and an individual, I value always having access to information. Sometimes, I even choose to read on my iPhone — and even create there! There is data out there that says students don't learn as well using a device to read, but also some very recent reports that say that isn't always the case. As screen displays continue to improve, I think we will see more and more schools choosing to use e-books and assign work electronically to model to their students the green behavior of a "paper-free" classroom.
Curation: According to Beth Kanter, "Content curation is the process of sorting through the vast amounts of content on the Web and presenting it in a meaningful and organized way around a specific theme." While basic Google searches do this based on factors we may or may not agree with, true curation using a device is driven by a person’s research. Teaching our students how to sift through all the topical information available to them on the Web is a valuable tool.
We are at a place where it can be hard to distinguish good sources from bad. We are also at a place where it is unclear whose job it actually is to teach a student how to do good Web-based research. How does your school teach your students and teachers how to curate? Does your school force students to use educational databases for their research? Do you teach them how to curate using Google? Do you just accept anything as long as it is cited correctly? This is the area in which I feel I have a lot of room for growth.
Connection: One big advantage to technology is that it allows the teacher not to be the only authority in the classroom. So many teachers are connecting with other teachers, writers, authority figures and leaders to learn more about the topics addressed in their lesson plans. Whether through FaceTime, Google Hangouts, Skype, e-mail or Twitter posts, teachers are contacting others to knock down the four walls of their classrooms and allow students to see beyond their current worlds. Last year, I worked with a sixth-grade Eastern Civilization social studies teacher while her students were studying the Philippines. We Skyped with a friend of mine who is a teacher and Philippine nationalist. The students loved it!
Another valuable tool is allowing students to connect to each other through collaboration. We see shared notes, allowing students to proofread each other's writing, and group projects taking connectivity to a new level that can only be achieved because of the immediate feedback Google Drive allows.
I will leave you with this question: Are you using all the 4 C's of technology integration in your classroom? Do you see the value of all four? Just as we don't want to limit our students’ learning, why limit the tools we place in their hands? We have to be careful in finding the balance of the 4 C's that best meets the needs of our students. We have to be careful not to allow technology to become a babysitter; but when used appropriately as an enhancement to learning, technology offers things to our classroom that have never been available to the teaching profession in the past. I find that exciting because I think we are more likely to teach our students to be lifelong learners now more than ever before — partly because access to information and a constant audience is just so ding dang easy now.