Learning Technologies Weeks 1-2

Week 1: Learning to Learn 

You've heard the old adage . . . 
If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day; if you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime. 

The aim of part one of this chapter is to help you gain knowledge and skill that will transfer to learning any new technology

Steps in Learning to Learn

Let's talk about learning to learn any technology. There are six steps that we'll discuss: 
  1. Consider your Purpose
  2. Explore the Possibilities
  3. Find Patterns
  4. Learn from the Pros
  5. Play
  6. Take Pride

Consider your Purpose 

Sometimes you are assigned a technology (could be a piece of software or a hardware tool) to learn, as you will be doing in the next two weeks with SMART Notebook, OneNote, Office 365, and Diigo. When that happens, the first thing you want to learn is the purpose of that tool. What problem was this technology designed to solve? Other times, you'll go about this the opposite way -- first considering the problem you need to solve and then searching for technology designed for the purpose of solving that problem. 

You can think of any technology as a system - a combination of parts. The parts of a system may be physical (a computer is made up of physical components connected to a central processor) or processes (whatever email system you use connects the processes of sending, receiving, and organizing email messages). Systems and purpose go hand-in-hand, and it's important to recognize these at the beginning of learning a technology. You are already familiar with technologies designed to enhance your educational experience like information systems (ex: SIS), communication systems (Cowboy Mail or Orange Mail), collaboration systems (Google Docs), and systems that combine all three of these purposes (Online Classroom). 

Explore the Possibilities

Once you have figured out your purpose for learning a particular technology, your next step is to explore the possibilities. You want to know what you will be able to do with this tool. The developer's website for this tool is where you will want to start. Most sites will have a gallery of users' work, which gives you a great idea of the possibilities. Another common tactic is to do a general web search for "what can I do with ________?" 

Check out these great sites that have organized possible tools for you: 
 There are always multiple tools to fulfill your purpose. You'll want to select the best one that fits within the systems you already use. 

Find Patterns

Have you ever noticed how you learn to use one technology and then easily transition to another tool based on that previous knowledge and experience?  Whether you realized it or not, many of you used knowledge gained from your very cool MySpace page when you started using Facebook. Then, when you transitioned to Twitter and Instagram, you subconsciously were seeing similarities and differences in them compared to Facebook. While learning technologies, make a conscious effort to find similarities and make comparisons to what you already know. For example, you're almost certain to find a top menu bar with the items "File," "Edit," "View," "Help" and others in practically any app you open. 

Learn from the Pros

Finding patterns can increase your comfort level when learning a new tool, but going to the pros who already know what they are doing will take you even further. Developers typically offer tutorials on their website or under the "Help" menu. The other pros are those you may know socially or professionally -- don't hesitate to send out a call to your personal or professional network to see who else might be using that technology and what advice they have for you. If you are conducting a general web search for tutorials, be as specific as possible to get the most meaningful results. 

Another helpful resource can be found in sites that build tutorials as a commercial enterprise. They often have some free resources while others are only available with a subscription. See: 


This step is actually harder than it sounds like! Probably from about the time you entered school, you started getting the unfortunately misguided message that learning is work and play is not a valuable way to spend your time. Too many adults avoid tinkering around with a technology out of fear of not doing something right, but we always learn more from our efforts and mistakes than we do from doing something right the first time. Play is an extremely valuable part of learning technologies, and you may be one of those people who has to actually schedule time to play on your daily calendar! 

Take Pride

The final step in the process of learning a new technology is taking pride in what you've accomplished. Even if you didn't finish with some amazing product worthy of selling on the home shopping network, consider how very much you gained through the process of learning and will be able to apply to your next learning endeavor. Besides, sharing your learning journey with someone else may be just what they need!  


Now let's put this into practice. Below are two activities designed to help you learn some tools we will be using extensively throughout this class. Note that the activities are set up to meet the needs of different learners -- some of you will gravitate toward video-based tutorials, while others may want to jump in and play first then refer back to a set of text-based frequently asked questions. You may want to go ahead and sign up for a login on Blendspace. We will be using it quite a bit, and with a login you can ask questions and leave comments. To be successful in this course, you will need to have mastered the content in these two activities, so please dedicate time and effort accordingly!  At the end of each activity, there is a checklist that will help you take pride in all that you have learned and ensure that you are ready to move forward with these tools throughout the class.

We recommend using SMART Notebook in any of the College of Education labs (http://education.okstate.edu/tech/labs) or in the T.E.C.H. Playground (326 Willard). 

Learning Office 365

Learning SMART Notebook  Note: The assignment at the end of this Blendspace will be due by the Friday (5pm) of the second week of class.

Interested in Blendspace? Here are a few examples of Blendspaces that were created by a 3123 student for her digital portfolio. http://sanderlinclassroom.weebly.com/blendspaces-of-lesson-plans.html

Week 2: Differentiated Learning Experiences

Key Questions (You should be able to answer these after studying this part of the chapter.)

Why should I differentiate my instruction for my students? (think beyond: students learn differently)
What does meaningful differentiation look like in a real classroom?
Which teaching strategies can I employ to meet my students' individual needs?
In what ways might I use technology to differentiate my instruction for my students?

Differentiated instruction is recognizing and being responsive to different learning needs of individuals and small groups of students. The website Differentiation Central offers an excellent flow chart of the process. Access the full website at http://differentiationcentral.com/model/.  

The Teaching Channel website offers a series of videos for new teachers, one in which differentiated instruction is detailed: watch "New Teacher Survival Guide: Differentiation" https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/differentiating-instruction. In the video "7th Grade Social Studies: Using Learning Menus" https://www.teachingchannel.org/videos/differentiating-instruction-strategy, the Teaching Channel website demonstrates a specific strategy for differentiating.

Tomlinson's Differentiated Instruction Model (2010) is based on six elements: 
  • High-quality curriculum - identifying exactly what you want the students to know, understand, and be able to do at a rigorous and challenging level
  • Continual assessment - using pre-assessments to determine what the students already know, understand and are able to do as well as where their interests lie; using formative assessments to determine when and how re-teaching needs to be done; and using summative assessments to allow students to demonstrate what they have learned
  • Respectful tasks - All tasks should be challenging, interesting and worth doing. If some students are engaged in this type of work while others are completing drill and practice workshop, there is disrespect happening.
  • Building community - The differentiated learning community must be a safe, accepting, risk-free environment where failure and learning from it is celebrated. Therefore, it is necessary for the teacher to insure that all learners understand and respect the process of differentiating instruction.
  • Flexible grouping - At any given time, students may work individually, as a whole group, or in small groups or with a partner based on interests (similar or dissimilar) or readiness to learn (similar or dissimilar).
  • Teaching up - Tomlinson (2010) notes that all students should be challenged to work up to the level just above his or her current competence. Differentiation is NOT about "dumbing down" the content for some students but not for others.

The Differentiated Instruction Teachers' Guide (2007) offers four areas where differentiation can occur:
  • Content - All students in your class will be expected to master the given curriculum standards (Oklahoma Content Standards, currently--used to be CCSS, PASS), but you can provide them different paths to gaining that knowledge. A pre-assessment is critical to determine what current knowledge and skill have already been mastered by individuals so the teacher can then determine which paths need to be made available.
  • Process - Different methods can be employed based on the idea that how students learn best can be different. Many teachers use a "menu" of activities for students to choose the process they believe will work best for them.
  • Products - Each student needs to demonstrate mastery of a standard or objective, but they may be able to demonstrate that mastery in a very different way than their classmates. A very clear summative assessment tool, like a rubric focused on what the student knows, understands and is able to do, is critical.
  • Learning Environment - The learning environment in a differentiated classroom includes both physical and social/emotional aspects. The physical space may include adjustments to lighting, noise, types of furniture, and equipment. The social/emotional environment must be built upon respect for individual differences and supportive classroom management.

Judith Dodge (2009, p. 9, http://www.slideshare.net/robertojosephgalvan/25-quickformativeassessments) offers a helpful chart to help teachers address student needs at different levels of readiness:

Scaffolding Struggling Learners

  • Offer teacher direction (reteaching with a different method)
  • Provide a partially completed graphic organizer or outline.
  • Allow the student to work with a reading partner, study buddy, or learning partner. (Buddy-up an English language learner (ELL) with another student.) This will provide peer support for collaborative learning.
  • Provide out-of-sequence steps for students to reorganize.
  • Allow additional time.
  • Allow students to use class notes, textbooks, and/or other classroom resources to complete the task.
  • Provide a cloze (fill-in-the-blank) paragraph (with or without a word box) for students whose language is extremely limited or for those who struggle with grapho-motor skills.
  • Provide a model or exemplar (of a similar problem solved or a sample of the type of writing expected).
  • Give a framed paragraph or essay (with sentence starters to help organize the writing).
  • Furnish step-by-step directions; break down the task.
  • Provide guided questions.
  • Provide hints or tips.
  • Supply a word bank and definitions.
  • Color-code different elements; highlight for focusing; provide "masks and markers" for focused attention on specific text.
  • Support with visuals, diagrams, or pictures.
  • Provide sentence strips, sticky labels with terms, or manipulatives (plastic coins, Judy clocks, Unifix cubes, fraction tiles, number lines, algebraic tiles, calculators, etc.).
  • Provide words on labels for students to simply pull off and place appropriately.

Challenging Advanced Learners

  • Design activities that are more complex, abstract, independent, and/or multistep.
  • Ask students to tell the story from a different point of view.
  • Pose a challenge question or task that requires them to think beyond the concrete and obvious response (from the newly learned material) to more abstract ideas and new use of the information.
  • Ask students to place themselves into the story or time period and write from the first-person point of view.
  • Require more complex expression of ideas: different types of sentences, synonyms, more than one adjective or action (verb) to describe what's happening.
  • Ask students to consider "What if?" scenarios
  • Provide multistep math problems.
  • Require that metaphors and similes, idiomatic expressions, or specific literary elements be included in their writing.
  • Include distracters.
  • Do not provide a visual prompt.
  • Ask students to make text-to-text and text-to-world connections (more abstract than text-to-self connections).
  • Ask students to suggest tips or hints that would help others who struggle to make sense of the information.
  • Require students to note relationships and point out connections among ideas: compare and contrast; cause and effect; problem and solution; sequence, steps, or change over time; advantages and disadvantages; benefits; etc.
  • Provide a problem or model that does not work; have students problem-solve.
  • Have students create their own pattern, graph, experiment, word problem, scenario, story, poem, etc.
  • Have students use the information in a completely new way (Design an awareness campaign about . . .; Create a flyer to inform . . .; Write/give a speech to convince . . .; Write an article to educate . . .; Write an ad to warn others about . . .; Design a program to solve the problem of . . .)
Technology in the classroom is crucial to the success of a differentiated classroom. Read the Educational Leadership article and watch the video interview with Carol Ann Tomlinson at http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/mar13/vol70/num06/From-Gadget-to-Gift.aspx.

To bring it all together, select videos from this Differentiation Central website: http://differentiationcentral.com/videos/

ISTE-T Standards

2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
  • Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the ISTE·S.
    • a. Design or adapt relevant learning experiences that incorporate digital tools and resources to promote student learning and creativity
    • b. Develop technology-enriched learning environments that enable all students to pursue their individual curiosities and become active participants in setting their own educational goals, managing their own learning, and assessing their own progress
    • c. Customize and personalize learning activities to address students’ diverse learning styles, working strategies, and abilities using digital tools and resources
    • d. Provide students with multiple and varied formative and summative assessments aligned with content and technology standards and use resulting data to inform learning and teaching
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
  • Teachers understand local and global societal issues and responsibilities in an evolving digital culture and exhibit legal and ethical behavior in their professional practices.
    • b. Address the diverse needs of all learners by using learner-centered strategies providing equitable access to appropriate digital tools and resources


Atomic Learning https://secure2.atomiclearning.com/sso/shibboleth/okstate
Ian Byrd's The (new) Differentiator http://byrdseed.com/differentiator/
Cool Tools Digital Differentiation http://d97cooltools.blogspot.com.au/2012/02/digital-differentiation-get-wired.html
Andy Warner (UK teacher) blogpost on differentiation http://andywarner78.wordpress.com/2013/05/09/why-weve-got-differentiation-wrong/
Ministry of Education. (2007). Differentiated instruction teacher's guide: Getting to the core of teaching and learning. Toronto: Queen's Printer for Ontario.
Tomlinson, C.A. & Imbeau, M.B. (2010). Leading and managing a differentiated classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Cybraryman's Differentiated Instruction resources http://www.cybraryman.com/differentiated.html
Five Ways Technology in the Classroom is Changing Education http://www.securedgenetworks.com/blog/5-Ways-Technology-in-the-Classroom-is-Changing-Education
A Practical Guide to Tiering Instruction in a Differentiated Classroom https://taylor.wiki.dublinschools.net/file/view/Tiering+Instruction.pdf
IAGC Pinterest board on Differentiation for Gifted Students https://www.pinterest.com/iagcgifted/differentiation/
Bowie, TX ISD Pinterest board on Differentiation for SPED Students https://www.pinterest.com/bowieisd/sped-differentiation/
Technology Tools for Differentiation http://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-social-media-tools-john-mccarthy