jeudi 19 mars 2015

The student planner on the SAMR scale

More than 15 million middle and high school students in North America still use paper planners and calendars to manage their time and tasks. In a world where collaborative and dynamic tools such as Basecamp and Trello have transformed the workplace, this is on the verge of changing, and actually has started in many ways.

The same way we have pushed to be able to use our personal devices for work, the time is coming for students to have access to real-life tools for their school lives, either through BYOD or student one to one programs. 

But the tools we use for business are not adapted to school work. These students require solutions which tie-in to the realities of their academic lives, activities and personal obligations. 

Calendars are simply tools to display events. But in school, as for work really, tasks are related to specific course periods quite often. And courses can be distributed over more than a standard week such as in rotating day or block schedules. These characteristics are almost exclusively reserved to the school ecosystem. 

So, strictly providing calendar tools to students with devices and having them write notes in their events seems like a simple substitution of writing down static notes in their planner. You do not have the benefit of leveraging technology as much. This sounds like the exact definition of what Ruben Puentedura's Substitution level of technology integration describes (see Ruben R. Puentedura's, weblog)

If we were to look at the next level up in SAMR, Augmentation, it might be tied to leveraging a system where students could search through their events and invite others or respond to invitations. Or perhaps access their calendars from multiple devices. But there is not much available at this level to enhance their use. 

But if we look at ways to start modifying how we use the calendar to enhance executive functioning skills for example, we can leverage unique aspects of technology such as quickly enter tasks by taking a photo of the whiteboard, or of the actual pages in a textbook. Or seeing your complete task timeline across all subjects and set up reminders on individual tasks based on the type of task. Tasks could be split into multiple steps and these steps could be shared with teammates for them to complete, allowing collaborative work. Supplement this with contextual discussions and you have a tool which behaves like Basecamp, Asuna or Trello, but at a level approachable by high school or even elementary students, in the context of their daily planner with it's rotating days or blocks, access to their teachers, etc.

There are many ways to redefine how students manage their time, let's start thinking about them and bring the tools we work with in our work lives into school, but using approaches tailored to their realities.

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