At Canadian Academy, technology is a tool that drives us forward to achieve our mission, vision, and core values
Last year a group of teachers, students, and administrators at my school met regularly to explore how we wanted to use technology at Canadian Academy. The topics and goals were wide ranging, but two of the biggest (and most relevant for this blog post) outcomes were:
- A Technology Mission Statement
- Implementation of the RAT model
I have included the mission statement at the top of this blog post as it really has been a guiding statement for all of the projects and programs that came after it. Technology can look like a lot of different things (pencils are technology!) and we wanted the statement to be evergreen which is a major challenge given how quickly things can change in the tech world! We also wanted to make it clear that the school did not revolve around technology, but that tech was instead a resource that helped us to achieve our larger goals as a community.
Our second big outcome was the choice to use the RAT model. While I was more familiar with SAMR and TPAC, we ultimately chose RAT because it was short and sweet…and left plenty of room for puns! “Let’s RATify this unit plan!” etc. The RAT model doesn’t differ much from SAMR or TPAC and the ultimate goal is the same: let’s provide everyone with a way to look at how they use technology that encourages them to transform learning with these amazing tools.
Our COETAIL task this week is, “to evaluate our own practice of technology integration using one (or more) of the frameworks presented”. Thanks to all of our meetings and brainstorming last year, I can say that as a school, we have definitely completed this assignment! Through PD sessions and whole school meetings, we were able to share information with the community about the RAT model and then help teachers to evaluate their own use of technology through that lens. For example, our head of edtech, Liz Durkin, prepared a fantastic activity with a small group of middle and high school students where they were asked to come up with examples of how they use technology in their classes and where those activities fall in the RAT framework.
Overall, my biggest takeaway from this experience has been that when you begin to think of your use of educational technology through the lens of a framework like RAT or SAMR, tech is used less as a gimmick or a time filler and more as the supportive, connective tool that it was intended to be. The lesson doesn’t revolve around the laptop, the laptop supports the work that students are already doing and should, ideally, bring students back into contact with each other or even classrooms outside of their own school.
My favorite quote about tech comes from Anya Kamenetz’s amazing book “The Art of Screen Time”. She writes that like Michael Pollan’s ideas about food and eating (Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants), a good standard for device use should be “Use Devices, Not Too Much, Mostly With Other People”. This Edutopia article (https://www.edutopia.org/article/research-based-tech-integration-strategies) concurs: “KEEP LEARNING SOCIAL. Many schools have moved to a one-to-one device experience, but social learning should not go away just because students have a personal device. It’s important to find digital tools and instructional strategies that allow students to have two-way conversations about what they’re doing and learning”.
Tech works best when it brings us back to each other, and that really is transformative!