A Timeline: Tool Set – Skill Set – Mind Set

In my previous post titled Enhancement-Automating-Transforming-Informating, I described the fusion (in my mind) of the SAMR model with Alan November’s concept of Automating vs. Informating to transform teaching and learning.

Since then, my colleague Andrea Hernandez and I have set down to create a visual using the above model to include concrete examples from our school to illustrate to our teachers what tasks are considered in the substitution/augmentation/modification/redefinition stages. We want to be transparent in showing our expectations of basic tasks being led autonomously by the classroom teachers to teach and support students without the necessity of tech support to be present. At the same time, we wanted to emphasize the progression and show what transformational teaching and learning looks like.

As we were populating the chart, it became clear to me that the stages were part of a time line, a process that an individual and an entire school cultures had to go through in order to transform and leap from “preparing students for 1970s, 1980’s 1990’s to preparing them for 2020’s and beyond” (Heidi Hayes Jacobs). Once I saw the imaginary time line, I also felt that that the stages coincided with how (21st century) teaching and learning was seen. We used to see it as a:

Tools Set:

  • we taught keyboarding classes
  • we had classes that taught a specific version of a office program (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
  • we emphasized file management
  • we supported teachers when they did not know which button to click for printing
  • we gave instructions, such as “click in the upper left corner for the drop down menu and save”, we gave new instructions when the software package, platform or version changed
  • we gave tech support to upload, download and resize images

Then we started to understand that it was never about the tools, but about the skills teachers and students would acquire when using these tools.

Skill Set:

  • we blog to teach and learn about writing, communication, networking, presentation, publishing, commenting, reflection, organization and collaboration skills. Blogging is about Digital Citizenship, Media Literacy, Information Literacy and Global Awareness.
  • we use wikis to understand about copyright, evaluation and analysis of Information, collective knowledge and new writing genres.
  • we skype in order to expose and connect teachers and students locally and globally to peers, experts, eye witnesses. We become more fluent in networking and and information literacies, speaking, listening and presentation skills are honed.
  • we teach bookmarking skills to help teachers and students cope with the exponentially increasing information available. Finding, evaluating, analyzing, tagging, categorizing, organizing, connecting and remixing of information are just some of the skills necessary for that
  • we podcast (audio and video) to allow students to express themselves and their knowledge in more than the written form. We incorporate storytelling in order to give students multimedia skills as well as expose them to visual literacy and information literacy.

Now, it seems that teaching and learning will not necessarily move from the “enhancement” to the “transformation” stage with a tool set and the necessary skills alone. In order for teaching and learning to become transformative there also needs to be a

Mind Set:

  • Our world has flattened and is interconnected
  • Information is just going to continue to grow exponentially
  • Students of today and tomorrow learn differently than we did
  • We are life long learners
  • We are self-directed learners
  • “How we connect with each other is how learning occurs” (Stephen Wilmarth)
  • “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read or write, but the ones who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn” (Alvin Toffler)
  • “Collaboration and sharing knowledge are highly prized skills” (Alan November)

Take a look at the following graphic and keep a time line in mind, as well as the stages mentioned above to move from substitution to redefinition. Does this make sense to you? What would you add?

6 thoughts on “A Timeline: Tool Set – Skill Set – Mind Set”

  1. The graphics make a lot of sense to me. I like the way the simple statements promote thinking that is enriched by the images that go along with them. Looking at these graphics makes me think about new ways to approach these things. Thanks so much for sharing them.

  2. Thanks for sharing this, Sylvia. This is a powerful concept, and I appreciate the thinking you share in support of your visual. As I was reading here, a light bulb went off, and I wanted to share. I apologize for the length. I tend to speak up rarely online, but when I do, I usually need a bit of space to make my thoughts clear.

    So here’s the thing–I’ve been thinking less and less about 21st C. curriculum and 21st c. student learning and more about 21st C. facilitation of adult learning. Not because I find the first two things less important, but because this is where my own work experiences have taken me. I realized that if creating the conditions wherein adults truly learn is at the core of the change that I am hoping to inspire during curriculum conversations and through coaching relationships, gaining substantial expertise THERE has to take priority as well. It became obvious that I would have to reflect on and change how I am designing pd and coaching opportunities. I knew I would have to study the effect of these shifts as well and act in response to what I was learning.

    Andrea and I had some conversation several weeks ago about transforming adult learning approaches. It meant a lot to me that she would share the challenges of her work within that particular domain, as they are similar to the ones that I and other long-term instructional coaches face. As I consider the model you share here, I can see how relationships between coaches and teachers shift along lines that are comparable with some similar effects.

    Much of my professional learning is around facilitating that shift best. How do we move from automated adult learning experiences to those that enable informating? That’s the question that I’ve been pursuing for years, and I’ve been longing to connect with others who are ready to pursue it with depth. It’s hard to find people who have the time or the stamina to sustain that conversation online, though. Building a PLN isn’t an easy thing. For better or worse, mine still exists largely on the ground, with those who are able to commit themselves to this kind of work and tend to our learning relationship too. We carve out time and create a dedicated for this. Getting to know one another well is important here, because I find that context is everything. That takes time.

    I’m finding that the work of collegial learning models that are teacher driven (rather than admin or coach driven) have been more successful. I’ve been doing a great deal with collegial inquiry/study and rethinking and reshaping my own coaching structures over the years. Chatted some with Andrea about this and would love to learn more with you over time too. It’s a bit of a different conversation than one you intended to start here perhaps, but it’s rare to connect with others who function in ways that I do inside of schools. I appreciated her reaching out, and if you ever wanted to talk more, I’d value that.

  3. What I continue to notice is something that aligns with your tool > skill > mindset and that is the transition from tool focused > teaching focused > learning focused.

    Tool focused is healthy and something we should embrace. It is the entry point for many, many educators. Great leaders and mentors help to shape that excitement towards a teaching focused view of technology.

    However, I do think we too often get caught there. Perhaps it is the same area you speak about in terms of “skills”. Regardless, there is a sticking point on instruction that rarely in my experience transcends to learning focused.

    I find it is not that great of challenge to move from tool to teaching focused — it almost occurs naturally. The question remains how to move from teaching to learning focused — something that has always been a struggle in education where the teacher is the focus and instruction is the holy grail.

  4. Really well written, you have now caused me to re structure my presentation for a seminar on mobile learning that I am delivering tomorrow. Thanks you have actually really improved it.

    Last year I presented on how to use mobile devices to move people from substitution and Augmentation to Modification. But this year I am presenting the idea that in the current upper school 11-12 the iPad can be implemented as purely a substitution device. Not managed by the teacher as a formative technology and have zero disruptive impact on the curriculum and learning.

    Now this sounds wrong but let me put it in context, I am working with teachers to change curriculum in years 7-9 but for the year 10-12 while we can’t afford to disrupt these students in the fixed curriculum they have I hope that by putting a device that appears to have zero impact on the curriculum the students will be the change agents and progress to the higher order.


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