back

Is technology a gimmick in your classroom?

By Liz Kolb 3/5/2015 Standards

I am guilty of using technology to trick students. When I began teaching in 1996, I decided to turn one of my traditional lectures into a PowerPoint. My ninth graders were captivated by the words scrolling across the screen, the little animated cave men and the fun slide transitions.

I took this “engagement” in the PowerPoint to mean that my students were also engaged in the learning goals. So I turned all my lectures into PowerPoint slides. After three weeks of PowerPoint lectures, reality hit hard. Students’ heads started dropping back down to their desks, and they no longer cared which animation I choose or how words floated into the slide. I learned that if I don’t move beyond engagement, students quickly lose interest.

Is technology integration in K-12 a gimmick? Are digital tools being used to “trick” students into classroom engagement but not really helping students meet learning goals? How can educators tell the difference between a gimmick and true learning through technology tools? These are valid questions that educators have been asking for decades.

I don’t think many educators would argue that technology is a tool to help students reach learning goals, but how do we measure that? After years of watching teachers do the same thing that I had done, I realized that educators needed a practical framework for integrating a technology tool into their lessons.

The Triple E Framework measures and defines what it should look like, sound like and feel like to meet learning goals through tech integration. The framework is based on three levels: engagement in learning goals, enhancement of learning goals and extension of learning goals. While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are distinct. This is what makes each level unique:

Engagement. This is the most basic level of technology integration. Often by putting a piece of technology in front of students, they become interested or "engaged" in the activity. However, we need to consider if the technology is merely capturing the interest of the student or engaging them in the content.

Enhancement. This is when the tool is aiding, assisting or scaffolding learning in a way that could not easily be done with traditional methods. This is the level where learning can become personalized and more relatable to the learner. This is when technology is really starting to change how learning occurs.

Extension. When technology supports real-world connections, learning extends outside of the classroom into student's everyday lives. Another way to extend learning is to help students develop digital age skills, such as grit and P21 skills, that many employers are asking for.

Measuring the Triple E Factor
Use the assessment tool below to determine if technology is having a positive impact on student learning goals. This tool can help you analyze a lesson or unit that integrates technology into the classroom.

Engagement in the learning
The technology allows students to focus on the assignment or activity with less distraction.

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

The technology motivates students to start the learning process.

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

The technology causes a shift in the behavior of the students, where they move from passive to active learners

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

Enhancement of the learning goals

The technology tool allows students are able to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the learning goals or content.

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

The technology creates supports (scaffolds) to make it easier to understand concepts or ideas.

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

The technology creates paths for students to demonstrate their understanding of the learning goals in a way that they could not do with traditional tools

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

Extending the learning goals

The technology creates opportunities for students to learn outside of their typical school day.

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

The technology creates a bridge between students school learning and their everyday life experiences

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

The technology allows students to build grit and P21 skills, which they can use in their everyday lives

    • 0 = No
    • 1 = Somewhat
    • 2 = Yes

Total=____/18

Reading the Results

14-18 Points: Exceptional connection between technology and learning goals
10-13 Points: Strong connection between technology and learning goals
7-9 Points: Average connection between technology and learning goals (re-evaluate to make certain that technology enhances and/or extends the learning goals in some significant way)
6 Points or below: Low connection between technology and learning goals (possibly rethink if technology should be used at all)

While there can be benefits from meeting just one or two, ultimately the goal of every technology integration lesson should engage, enhance and extend learning.

Learn more about the Triple E Framework.

Like (1)


Karen
557 days ago
Liz, This was perfect for my presentation! I created a rubric table w/ your criteria if you are interested I'm happy to share. Karen McKinley Karen.mckinley@warrencountyesc.com
Liz
1080 days ago
Thank you for reading Dana and the compliment on the definition. It has been modified over the past five years--- where I started with researched definitions of "enhancement" used in business and other fields, then was able to take those terms/concepts and apply them to technology tools in the classroom. I find the most purposeful and useful technology integration occurs through enhancement. When the tech tool can do something that cannot be done with traditional tools in order to help students better understand the learning goals. I often find myself saying about my own classroom tech integration, "well this is fun, it is engaging, but does it enhance my student's understanding of the learning goals?"
Dana
1080 days ago
I really like your definition of enhancement. Did you write this or did you pull this from other resources?