Monday, 11 November 2013


In this post I intend to outline the reflective document teachers utilized as part of the Teaching with Technology Professional Development workshop.  This workshop makes up a portion of my Major Digital Project.  For more information about the project, please visit my "Major Digital Project" page, or any post labeled "Major Digital Project".
A significant component of the Teaching with Technology PD project involves helping teachers document the process of incorporating a specific tool to successfully implement an effective teaching strategy. My colleague and I wanted to provide teachers with a reflective process that would allow them to identify and evaluate a potential tool; a way to measure the successful use of the tool; and a way to consider the future use of the tool in their teaching practice.  After some research, we found an excellent document from the University of British Columbia Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology.  The document is titled, "Assessing Technology: Using the SECTIONS model", and it based on a framework originally identified by Bates and Poole in the book, Effective Teaching With Technology in Higher Education.  [Bates, A.W.; and Poole, G. (2003) Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations For Success. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers. 79-80]

As is suggested in the document, the SECTIONS model is designed to "facilitate decisions with regard to choice of technology at both the strategic and tactical level, and also to help decide within a particular technology the most appropriate balance between different media." 

The process is divided into four parts: Define, Assess, Implement, and Refine.
During the Define stage teachers identify what they are looking to accomplish and establish the direction they will take.  Reflection questions in this stage include:
  • I really want students to learn...
  • I think I could be more effective in facilitating this learning if...
  • The learning activity that I've chosen to address these objectives is...
  • The technology I'm thinking of using to support this learning activity...
After sharing the nine effective teaching strategies with teachers, we asked them to consider one strategy they wished to incorporate into their teaching practice.   They then completed the Design portion of the SECTIONS model with that effective teaching strategy in mind.  Of important note is that teachers were not asked to pick a technology tool they wanted to try.  Instead, they were asked to identify what they wanted students to learn and how they were going to address the specific learning objectives.  The type of technology to be used is only considered in the final question of the Define stage.

In the Assess stage teachers are asked to evaluate the technology they have chosen to use or explore using a checklist.  This multi-page checklist is divided into the following categories:
Ease of Use
Technology & Learning
Organizational Issues

In completing the survey, teachers are encouraged to contemplate features of the technology that are important to them and issues they may need to consider in using the technology tool in the classroom.
We asked teachers participating in the workshop to complete the Define and Assess portions of the SECTIONS framework during the planning portion of the workshop.  Once completed, teachers were asked to post these reflective pieces as part of a Moodle blog created for the workshop.  Details about this component of the project will be explained in a future Major Digital Project blog post.

Implement is the third part of the SECTIONS framework.  In this part teachers record initial impressions regarding the effective use of the technology.  Reflective questions include:
  • In observing the students engaging with this activity, I notice...
  • The technology I have chosen is enabling the learning because...
  • The technology I have chosen is a barrier to learning because...
  • Feedback from students about this technology is...
This portion of the SECTIONS model needs to occur once teachers have had the opportunity to implement the use of the technology tool with students.  Participating teachers are currently involved in this process with their students.  As they complete their class projects they will be asked to reflect on these questions as part of a follow-up blog post.

The final portion of the SECTIONS model gives teachers the opportunity to Refine.  In this section teachers are asked to consider future changes or improvements.  During this stage teachers reflect upon:
  • What worked?
  • What didn't work and why?
  • I need to change...
  • My plan to make this change is...
Once again, teachers will be asked to post reflections on this section as part of a final blog post.  Our ultimate goal will be for participating teachers to share these projects and this reflective practice experience with fellow colleagues as part of a future Technology Fair.

Our first impressions of the SETIONS framework have been very positive.  Teachers responded well to the format and found the checklist easy to use.  I would not hesitate using this document as part of future technology projects and workshops.

What are your thoughts on the SECTIONS framework?  Are there additional evaluations models to consider?

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