To fully understand ISTE coaching standard 3D), “Select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning,” I created a website which hosts three videos, (ISTE, 2017). Each video describes the steps in the “Backwards Design” model as a means to incorporate edtech into existing lesson plans. It was important to incorporate captions as part of assistive technology to support all students. The videos below were created with screen-capturing software, TechSmith Relay, and later uploaded and captioned using YouTube’s captioning functionality.
Note: Please click on “closed captioning” icon on bottom of video to view captions.
Backward Design Three-Step Video
Stage One Application: Modify the basic lesson provided from the Colorado Extended Food and Nutrition Program to meet specific criteria that you develop using the backward design.
Stage Two Application: Determine the type of understanding you want your audience to achieve and build your action-oriented task. Consider the active learning elements and digital tools you wish to include. How do they enhance engagement and performance?
Stage Three Application: Develop your lesson plan. Double check that your activities meet your main objective(s).
Through this process, I finally understood the importance of assistive technology. Great effort was put into each video to ensure that all students can use and learn according to their abilities. After this experience, I now always take the extra steps to add captions or use alternative text to all graphics I upload into my digital environments.
With the goal of promoting 21st century skills, the university is looking for ways to better serve the students and faculty by providing them with enriching technology experiences. Collaborating with the educational technology department, I embarked on a three-phase project with the scope of gathering information, and brainstorming solutions to improve the technology usage experience in the classroom.
This project aligns with the ISTE coaching standard 3F- “Collaborate with teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources that enhance teaching and learning and are compatible with the school technology infrastructure,” (ISTE, 2017). The project depended on several collaborations from gathering feedback from faculty, requesting data from technology departments, to continued collaborations among these departments to support proposed classroom technology changes.
A summary of the project outcomes is provided below.
Edit, distribute, analyze, and report on the Classroom Technology Survey.
Pilot Survey Summary. A few months ago, I participated in the development of a pilot study with the scope of investigating faculty use of current classroom technology. Though the results could not be generalized to the greater faculty body, we learned that the faculty sub-group was not adverse to technology nor did they consider themselves expert users. We also found some correlations between faculty comfort with technology and the types of technology that are used in the classroom. This result mirrored what types of technology students were exposed to. Similar correlations were found between faculty comfort and where technology was incorporated into teaching and learning. However, from voluntary feedback provided by our pilot subjects, we learned that not all subjects understood the term “classroom technology” clearly nor understood the context with which we were addressing “active learning.” With these and other suggestions, we improved the survey for clarity and brevity. The outcomes of that pilot project can be reviewed in greater detail here.
Survey Outcomes and Implications. After implementing the changes described above, the edited survey was presented to the faculty body by a contributing stakeholder and responses were collected for two weeks. A total of 108 completed surveys was collected representing twenty-four departments and roughly one-third of the total faculty population.
The majority of the participants considered themselves “average-technology adopters” which indicates that faculty are not adverse to incorporating technology into their teaching and student learning but will not do so unprompted or without substantial assistance and resources. These results were congruent with the pilot study. Understanding faculty adoption rate is an important consideration as any proposed classroom model change may be better received by this faculty body alongside a comprehensive training plan.
Additionally, all faculty used technology in teaching and student learning though there wasn’t a correlation between self-identified technology adoption rate and total areas of technology incorporation. The faculty are currently using technology to support lecture or the physical classroom, and disseminate course resources to students. All faculty currently felt proficient with most classroom technologies expect for mobile devices. Faculty might be unfamiliar with how mobile devices can be used as a classroom technology. However, faculty also indicated a desire for more training on mobile devices. Interestingly, when asked if faculty had access to mobile device and the frequently which with they use the device, about half of the participants wished to learn more or were already using mobile devices in the classroom and the other half did not have access and would not use it. This unusual finding may be an implication of the characteristics of average technology users who may not be inclined to try new technology without comprehensive training and modelling.
One final implication of the survey outcomes indicates that students are more likely to engage in passive participation with technology in online environments based on the characteristics of faculty familiarity. Given that most faculty engage with the online classroom as a way to present course resources or view lecture videos, students may not gain full exposure to 21st century skills or digital citizenship.
Figure 1.1 provides more details into the survey’s findings.
Figure 1.1. Classroom Technology Survey Results and Implications Presentation.
Phase Two- Brainstorm Classroom Models.
After the survey results were released, stakeholders including digital librarians, professional development department members, and computer information department members, met to discuss current classroom models and began brainstorming possible models that will meet future needs of faculty. The meeting started with a review of the survey described above, followed by a review of input data pulled from the classroom podium central tower. The data helped understand how often each classroom device was accessed throughout the academic year. The inputs data helped reinforce the survey data by identifying the podium pc as one of the most used classroom technologies and the VCR among the least utilized.
After the usage background information was presented, the discussion on future classroom models ensued. By observing the concerns expressed by each stakeholder department, it became apparent that the issue is deeper than I originally thought. I believed that the most difficult component of developing a new classroom model was faculty support. However, in addition to faculty support, budget, limitations of physical space, inventory logistics, and training demands, were among the concerns addressed. Despite these concerns, all were optimistic about future directions proposed by the collaboration leader.
Figure 1.2 below summarizes these models.
No final decision about future directions was decided. However, the meeting concluded on a positive note. All departments left with assignments to gather more information by the end of summer. The committee would reconvene at that time to further support establishing a decision.
Phase Three: Curate activity examples for the classroom models.
The final phase of this project looked at examples of how some classroom models could be used to support active learning. One classroom model used at the university is an high-tech active classroom. These classrooms consist of flexible furniture whose arrangement promote collaboration. The circular nature of the desks allow student focus on each other rather than the lecturer. Additionally, the room features an advanced podium system where each flex furniture center contains connections to it own monitor mounted on the wall. The lecturer can control which monitor is displayed and can share input from one computer to all of the others.
Coupled with a request by my department to conduct a high-tech classroom demonstration for an accreditation visit, I created a demonstration with two possible uses of that space after meeting with the Food and Nutrition Program Director, the Digital Librarian, and the DEL Program Director. The showcase featured examples of low-tech classroom activities and high-tech activities featuring that classroom space.
The low-tech example features uses of the flex furniture/space. This example highlights how the classroom can be setup as skill development stations. Each station could be set up to focus on a specific counseling or clinical skill. Students would have the opportunity to practice the skill at the station before demonstrating it to an assessor. Once mastery was achieved, the student would rotate to the next station.
The high-tech example utilizes the capabilities of presenting the input from each group onto its individual monitor. In this scenario, students are given a component of a larger problem to work on in their group. Each group would present their work on their corresponding monitor. Because the podium can project each group’s work onto their individual monitor, the educator could then ask students to take a step back and review all of the components together, reflecting on the big picture idea behind the project.
Conclusion and Reflection
The work I’ve conducted on the future classroom models left me feeling very optimistic about the future of educational technology. I was pleased that common misconceptions of faculty resistance to technology was not a barrier to classroom technology change at the university. The opposite was found to be true as results of the classroom technology survey revealed. The conclusion of the stakeholder meeting introduced interesting ideas where educators will no longer be limited by the static technology that is made available in physical space. Educators may very soon be able to connect to their own devices and allow students to connect and interact with classroom technology more actively. Even examining current classroom models, active learning does not need advanced technology as it can take place with low tech activities. This was also expressed in the survey as faculty indicated high proficiency and desire for more whiteboards in the classroom. With the option of both high-tech and low-tech possibilities for active learning, students are able to gain appreciation of digital literacy, creativity, collaboration, and problem-solving. As a higher education institution,we can’t say that technology hasn’t taken hold over our teaching and student learning. Active learning and student engagement are held to high esteem as our attitudes and ideals shift from traditional classrooms to classrooms that support the development of 21st century skills.
The community engagement project challenges students to create a professional development session to be presented at a conference of the student’s choosing. As part of building effective digital age environments, as prescribed by the ISTE Standards for Coaches #3, I chose to create an interactive session that focused on active learning and digital collaboration tools to improve current practices in nutrition education. Technology in nutrition education currently has limited uses but impactful potential. Despite the fact that nutrition information is plentiful in the digital world, the approach of dietitians and nutritionists has been to increase presence through blogs, social media, and videos (such as those on YouTube), while the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND), the representative organization for all dietitians, set their efforts to instill a code of ethics and provide information on privacy in the digital workplace. These efforts may help mitigate nutrition misinformation but are often one-sided or engage only limited populations. For example, blogs may allow comments but do not allow for active engagement with the blog topics nor takes into account implementation on a local level. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter allow for nutritionists’ voices to be heard but rarely offer collaborative engagement between other experts, or communities. The solution is relatively simple as the digital tools mentioned offered plenty room for continued collaboration among participants at any level, (local or global).
The Academy itself recognizes the potential of technology in nutrition and has published a practice paper on nutrition informatics. Nutrition informatics is a relatively new field in dietetics that addresses technology’s role in health practices. The Academy discusses the potential pros and cons for each of the various practice fields in dietetics (clinical, food services, education/research, community, consultation/business) and technology’s potential for growth in each of those areas. In education specifically, the Academy recognizes use in distance learning, student progress tracking, speciality testing for licensing and certification, and professional course development. However, it does not mention need for collaboration or engaging various audiences requiring nutrition education.
In order to bridge this gap and address the ISTE Coaching Standard, the topic for this professional development proposal focuses on building better nutrition education through digital collaboration tools. The goal of this session is to explore benefits of active learning through technology aides (EdTech) and implement tools into existing lesson plans with the following objectives in mind:
a) Understand and/or review importance of active learning (evidence-based practice)
b) Become familiarized with collaborative edtech tools
c) Engage with edtech tool selection criteria and best practices
d) Explore ways to incorporate digital tools in lesson plan scenarios.
Professional Development Session Elements
In this one-hour session, participants will be invited to explore the main topic through both face-to-face and online collaboration, as the entire group navigates through a website developed specifically for the presentation. Since all of major content is available to them online, there is no need for note-taking, allowing participants to remain engaged throughout the session. Elements of the session involve: a pre-session technology self-assessment, an online group discussion via Padlet, think pair share elements, and lastly self-reflection elements submitted during and after the session. More details on these elements are provided below.
Length. The Academy hosts local sub-organizations in each state. I chose to develop this professional development session for local dietitians and nutrition educators with the opportunity to present at the local education conference held annually. The requirements of this local organization state that all educational sessions must be a minimum length of one hour. This is to meet the CEU (continuing education unit) minimum for registering dietitians. Considering that through the DEL program we have taken entire classes dedicated to active learning and digital tools, the length will limit the depth of information presented. However, the ability to continually collaborate with both participants and presenter will allow for continued resource sharing after the session has ended.
Active, engaged learning with collaborative participation. Participants will be encouraged to participate and collaborate before, during, and after the session for a full engagement experience. The audience will be asked to review certain elements of the presentation website available here intermittently as they discuss key elements with the participants next to them. See figure 1.1 for lesson plan details.
Building Better Nutrition Education Through Digital Collaboration Tools
Session Goal: Introduce ways to incorporate digital collaboration tools into existing nutrition education lesson plans.
Learning Objectives: At the end of the session participants will:
a) Understand and/or review importance of active learning (evidence-based practice)
b) Become familiarized with collaborative edtech tools
c) Engage with edtech tool selection criteria and best practices
d) Explore ways to incorporate digital tools in lesson plan scenarios
Participants will complete self-assessment prior to the session
Participants will demonstrate understanding of active learning by submitting informal Google Form Quiz in session
Participants will engage in collaborative edtech tools by submitting responses during the session
Participants will create their own digital tool need by complete case scenario
They will submit self-reflection via flipgrid post session
Session Introduction (5 mins)
Prompt and Participation: Padlet Q & A- Describe a time you attended a great education session, what made that session great?
Review of self-assessment (completed prior to session)
Importance of active learning- evidence-based practice (5-10 mins)
Review of evidence: Google form quiz (embedded in site)
How can digital tools help? (5-10 mins)
Choosing the right digital tool (10 mins)
Triple E Framework rubric
Criteria for choosing the right digital tool
Tips on incorporating tools into existing lesson plan (10 mins)
Video Tutorial (take home message/resource)
Active practice (10 mins)
Case scenarios-flipgrid response
Questions (5 mins)
Total session length: 60 mins.
Figure 1.1 “Building Better Nutrition Education through Digital Tools” Session Lesson Plan.
Before the presentation, the participants will be invited to a google form self-assessment poll addressing comfort and knowledge with technology tools as well as their current use of technology tools in practice. During the presentation, the audience will be prompted to participate in “think, pair, share” elements, as well as, respond to collaboration tools prompts on padlet, google forms, and embedded websites. After the presentation, participants will be encouraged to summarize their learning by submitting a flipgrid video.
Content knowledge needs. The session content begins with establishing the importance of active learning as evidence-based practice to meet objectives a) and b). Just as motivational interviewing and patient-centered practice is desirable in nutrition, active learning invoking 21st century skills is evidence-based and an education standard. The content will then shift into teacher-focused how-tos for digital tools including how digital tools can help, how to select the right digital tool, and how to incorporate that tool into an existing lesson plan to address objectives c) and d). My assumption is that participants who are not comfortable with technology may be fearful or lack of motivation to explore various tools. Group collaboration, modelling and gentle encouragement through case studies may help mitigate these fears.
Teachers’ needs. While the majority of the session focuses on introductory content to active learning and digital tools, teacher’s needs in digital tool management can be addressed through coach/presenter modeling. Simple statements such as, “I created this flipgrid video to serve as a model for students.” or “This google form was hyperlinked to gauge students’ understanding so far,” can serve as a basis to explore class management and digital tool management within the limited time. The website itself offer a section on FAQs, exploring questions and misconceptions about active learning and digital tools. Even with all of these resources, the audience will be introduced to technology coaching and may choose to consult a coach at their current institution.
In addition to modeling, three tutorial videos are available on the website to help teachers begin creating their own active learning lesson plans using the backwards design model. Each of the tutorials features closed captioned created through TechSmith Relay for accessibility. The Google Site was also chosen because content is made automatically accessible to viewers, all the website creator has to do is include the appropriate heading styles and use alt text for pictures, figures, and graphs.
Lessons Learned through the Development Process.
One of the major challenges to developing this project was understanding the needs of the target audience. Because nutrition informatics is relatively new, technology use has not be standardized in the profession, therefore estimating the previous knowledge and use of digital tools by the audience was difficult. My assumption is that technology use and attitudes about technology will be varied. The website attempts to breakdown information to a semi-basic level. The only assumption I made was that the audience has good background in standard nutrition education practices. I also chose to develop the Technology Self-Assessment for the audience to complete prior to the session as a way to gain some insight into current technology use and comfort so that I may better tailor the session to that particular audience’s needs.
I realized as I was developing the lesson plan for this session that I only have time to do a brief introduction to these very important topics. If I were to create a more comprehensive professional development, I could expand the content into three one-hour sessions including 1) introduction and theory to collaborative learning which would address the importance of digital tools in nutrition education and establish need for active learning, 2) selecting, evaluating, and curating tech tools allowing educators to become familiarized with available tools based on individual need, and 3) lesson plan development integrating collaboration tools, a “how-to” session where participants create their own plan to implement. I had not anticipated that length was going to be a barrier, however, if the audience truly has limited digital familiarity and comfort, perhaps beginning with an introduction to these topics is sufficient.
One positive lesson that I’ve learned is that trying new things, such as creating a Google Site, can be very rewarding. I have never experimented with Google Sites prior to this project and I am quite happy with the final website, though the perfectionist in me wants to continue tweaking and editing content. I originally was aiming to create slides for this presentation but realized that I am attempting to convince a possibly skeptical audience on the benefits of digital tools so using the same old tool would not allow me to do the scope of modelling I desire.
I must admit that before this project, I had a hard time placing myself into the role of a “tech coach” because I would continually see each concept through the lens of an educator and how to apply the concepts to my own teaching. It has been difficult for me to take a step back and realize that I am teaching but just in a different context. Creating the step-by-step tutorials was the turning point where I envisioned the audience modeling their lesson plans to the example I had given. I hope I have the opportunity to present this session at the educational conference and bring the ideals of active learning and digital tools to professionals working in various education settings.
The word “troubleshooting” most often invokes images involving a conversation with the IT department, a progression of actions guided by the technician and performed by the user, and ending with a resolution in which the user’s original knowledge of technology has not been augmented. Unfortunately this is a all too common scenario. The user defaults all troubleshooting responsibility to a third party because of unfamiliarity or knowledge deficit of technology. This is not limited to just consumers and companies, there is a concern that students also do not troubleshoot well. According to the ISTE coaching standard, coaches should help teachers and students “troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments,” (ISTE, 2017). While calling for IT or passing responsibility onto another party, like a teacher for example, is generally practiced, learning to troubleshoot is a beneficial 21st century skill because it helps develop digital competence.
Why is digital competence important?
Like all 21st century skills, digital competence is a highly-sought skill in the ever-evolving workforce. An e-magazine, Training Industry, wrote an industry-perspective article on digital competence and highlights the need for competence in the workforce from the top of the organization chart down. The author believes that the tech world today emcompasses “VUCA”, or volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity. The role of those working in tech today should be to navigate this VUCA world seamlessly and one of the ways to do this is to reinforce digital competence, (Newhouse, 2017). The industry definition of digital competence expands to include not only knowledge of technology but also involves understanding digital environments, effectively creating and consuming digital information, communicating and collaborating with diverse stakeholders, innovating rapidly, critically thinking/problem solving, and maintaining security, (Newhouse, 2017). This definition was devised from new European Union definitions and involves five major facets summarized in figure 1.1 below.
What role does “digital competence” play in helping students problem-solve and troubleshoot online/technology issues?
One issue that arises is the general assumption that since students grew up with technology, or are considered digital natives, that they automatically build digital knowledge or that students know how to use technology well, (Hatlevik, et. al, 2015). However, in order to use technology well, students need to build digital competence and literacy. According to researchers Hatlevik, Gudmundsdottik, and Loi, building digital competence is complex and involves various factors as summarized in figure 1.2 below.
The researchers recognize that these facets are essential to culviating a deep understanding of technology while promoting critical reflection and creativity of digital skills. These qualities in turn develop problem-solving skills in both independent and collaborative settings, (Hatelvik,et. al., 2015).
Other than knowledge deficits involving how to perform troubleshooting tasks, researchers suggest that when demanding conditions, such as a completing an assignment, becomes difficult, it may hurt self-regulation and autonomy, (Koole, et.al, 2012). These difficulties can include cognitive, motivational, implementational, or a combinations of these factors. While this theory is debated, meta-analyses indicate that low intrinsic value activities (such as homework) may lower complex problem solving abilities such as those required by troubleshooting, (Koole, et al. 2012). Along with motivational issues, students may resolve themselves to believing that there is only one correct path or resolution to a specific problem in which the educator is the gatekeeper of the solution. Rather than seeking the solution for themselves, students prefer to go straight to the source which develops a learned helplessness, (Miller, 2015).
How can students develop digital competence?
Digital competence is a very complex concept that spans several social, motivational, personal, cultural, and technical understandings, therefore, there is no straightforward way for developing digital competence. However, educators play a big role in establishing foundations for competence that may lead to better problem-solving and troubleshooting in two major ways:
Allowing for self-directed learning. A consensus exists in the fact that students need to be reflective of their own learning, (Miller, 2015 and Plaza de la Hoz, et. al., 2015). The role of the educator then shifts to provide resources including digital tools that allow students to experiment by active participation and engagement.
Change in class culture. The attitudes and beliefs of the educator also reflects importance of digital competence in students. If the educator places low importance in digital competence, the students learn not to value or develop these important skills. The educator can establish new beliefs, resources, and structures to promote a culture of answer-seeking through appropriate digital tools and tool use. Lastely, students must build self-efficacy through trial and error in a safe environment.
While researchers are investigating efficient methods for developing competences, all sources agree that in order for students to be successful in the 21st century, educators must open up the path to new technologies, new pedagogies, and new attitudes that help build digital competency, (Miller, 2015, and Plaza de la Hoz, et. al., 2015).
Hatlevik, O.E., Gudmundsdottik, G.B., Loi, M. (2015). Digital diversity among among upper secondary students: A multilevel analysis of the relationship between cultural capital, self-efficacy, strategic use of information, and digital competence. Computers & Education. 81: 245-353. Available from: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5W5P9bQJ6q0RFNib3A5Vm9wWWM/view
ISTE, (2017). ISTE standards for coaches. Available from:
Digital tools in the classroom is an asset to learning. According to the U.S. Department of Education, technology in the classroom ushers in a new wave of teaching and learning that can enhance productivity, accelerate learning, increase student engagement and motivation, as well as, build 21st century skills, (U.S. Department of Education, n.d.). The offerings of technology tools for the classroom are plentiful as priorities shift to support a more integrated education. Educators now have several options for cultivating digital tools to better engage students, promote active learning, and personalize instruction. But choosing the right tools can be challenging especially considering that educators face a seemingly overwhelming array of options. How would can educators filter through all of the options to select the best tool(s) for their classroom?
Enlisting the help of a technology coach who can systematically break down the selection process to ensure that the most appropriate tools are used is part of the solution. In following with best practices, the third ISTE standard for coaching (3b) states that in order for tech coaches to support effective digital learning environments, coaches should manage and maintain a wide array of tools and resources for teachers, (ISTE, 2017). In order to cultivate those resources, coaches themselves need a reliable way to select, evaluate, and curate successful options. Much like an educator may use a rubric or standards to assess an assignment’s quality, coaches can develop specific criteria (even a rubric) to assess quality of technology tools.
Tanner Higgin of Common Sense Education understands the barrage of ed tech tools and the need for reliable tech resources, which is why he published an article describing what makes a good edtech tool great. The article seems to be written more from a developer’s point of view on app “must-haves”, however Higgin also makes reference to a rubric used by Common Sense Education to evaluate education technology. He mentions the fact that very few tech tools reviewed receive a 5 out of 5 rating which makes me assume that Common Sense Education has a rigorous review system in place. I was curious to learn what criteria they use to rate and review each tool and/or so I investigated their rating process. In the about section on their website, Common Sense Education mentions a 15-point rubric which they do not share. They do share, however, the key elements included in their rubric: engagement, pedagogy, and support, (Common Sense Education, n.d.). They also share information about the reviewers and how they decide which tools to review. This information serves as a great jumping off point in developing criteria for selecting, evaluating, and curating digital tools. Understanding the thought process of an organization that dedicates their time and resources for this exact purpose is useful for tech coaches in developing their own criteria.
Continuing the search for technology tool evaluation criteria led me to several education leaders who share their process through various blog posts and articles. Reading through the criteria suggestion, a common theme started to develop. Most of the suggested criteria fit under the umbrella terms defined by Common Sense with a few modifications, which are synthesized in figure 1.1 below.
There is consensus among the educational leaders who placed emphasis on engagement and collaboration features of the tool. Tod Johnston from Clarity Innovations noted that a good tech tool should allow for personalization or differentiation of the learning process that also allowed the instructor to modify the content as needed for each class, (Johnston, 2015). ISTE author, Liz Kolb added to this by stating that tools that allow for scaffolding help to better engage differentiation, (Kolb, 2016). Both Edutopia and ISTE authors agreed that sociability and shareability of the platform was important to engage students in wider audiences, (Hertz, 2010, & Kolb, 2016).
While engagement was a key element of selecting a tech tool for the classroom, even more important was how the tool fared in the realm of pedagogy in that first and foremost the technology needs to play a role in meeting learning goals and objectives, (Hertz, 2010). Secondly, the tool should allow for instructional best practices including appropriate methods for modeling and instruction of the device, and functionality in providing student feedback, (Hertz, 2010 &, Johnston, 2015). Another pedagogical consideration is the ability of the platform to instill higher level thinking rather than “skill and drill” learning, (Kolb, 2016). Specific rubrics on pedagogy such as the SAMR and TRIPLE E framework models has been created and can be used in conjunction with these principles.
Support and usability was among the top safety concerns for evaluating these tools. Cost and the desired features accessed within cost premium was among these concerns particularly when students needed to create an account or needed an email was a concern, (Hertz, 2010). Hertz called this issue free vs. “freemium”, meaning that some apps only allow access to limited functionality of the platform while full functionality could only be accessed through purchase of premium packages. If the platform was free, the presence of ads would need to be accessed, (Hertz, 2010). In terms of usability, coveted features such as easy interface, instructor management of student engagement, and seperate teacher/student account were desirable, (Johnston, 2015). Along with cost and usability, app reliability and compatibility with existing technology was also listed as important features, (Johnston, 2015).
The evaluation process itself varied from curated lists of the top tech tools, criteria suggestions, even completed rubrics. If those don’t quite apply to a specific evaluation process, a unique approach would be to convert the rubric into a schematic like the one shared from Denver Public Schools where each key evaluation element could be presented as a “yes” or “no” question with a “yes, then” or “no, then” response following a clear decisive trajectory for approval or rejection.
What I’ve learned through the exploratory process of developing evaluation criteria for tech tools is that It is not important or necessary that a tool meet every single criteria item. Even the educational and tech experts reviewed in this blog emphasized different things in their criteria. In his blog, Tod Johnston suggests that there is no right or wrong way to evaluate technology tools because this isn’t a cookie cutter process. Just like all teachers have a different style and approach to teaching so would their style and approach to using tech tools. The key to evaluating tools to to find the one that best fits the teacher’s needs, (Johnston, 2015).
How you learn is built in to the larger part of who you are, embodies your collective experiences, norms, beliefs, and values; it is a part of your culture. Building community in the learning environment, whether on- or off-line, establishes safety, facilitates collaboration, and can help cultivate sense of self and role in the community. The ISTE standard for coaches calls coaches to “create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students… by model[ing] effective classroom management and collaborative learning strategies to maximize teacher and student use of digital tools and resources and access to technology-rich learning environments”,(ISTE, 2017). In order to maximize these resources for learning, we need to establish a technology environment that engages students’ cultural background and understandings.
Building community can be particularly difficult in an online environment where social cues, particularly non-verbal ones, may be more challenging to interpret or oftentimes gets misinterpreted. This becomes confounded when factoring in cultural languages and exchanges. These exchanges are not limited to ethnic cultures, but also generational cultures where task interpretations may take on different meanings. For example, assigning students the task of investigating three community food resources may be interpreted and approached differently by students who are very familiar with technology, as opposed to non-traditional students or students that have limited access to technology. Coaches can help instructors build understanding of the cultures present in a classroom, and implement successful learning strategies through culturally relevant pedagogy (CRP).
What is CRP and why is it important?
McCarther defines culture as an “amalgamation of human activity, production, thought, and belief systems,”(McCarther, 2017). “Culture is fundamental to learning,” (Pitsoe, 2014). Each student brings to the classroom a “fund of knowledge” shaped by their culture that influences who students are, what they believe, and how they think, (Cavalli, 2014). It is easy to understand that students bring all of themselves represented through culture in their learning, but does how they are taught represent them and their culture? In 1995 researcher Gloria Ladson-Billings coined the termed “culturally relevant pedagogy” (CRP) in response to the fact that students learn best when their ideas and voice are shared and appreciated by the world, (McCarther, 2017). CRP invites educators to create socially just spaces and structure for students to share their voice by using teaching strategies that support the use of cultural knowledge, previous experiences, and unique performance styles that are familiar to diverse students in the classroom, (Cavalii, 2014 & McCather, 2017). According to Ladson-Billings, student learning success encompasses academic success, cultural competence, and sociopolitical consciousness. CRP is not prescriptive but rather flexible and ever-changing in response to the cultures unique to a particular classroom, (McCather, 2017). Good implementation of CRP in the classroom involve four key components as described by Pitsoe and summarized in Figure 1.1 below.
Understanding how students learn, the reality of their world today, and what skills they need to challenge the existing systems is crucial to the implementation of CRP.
Need for CRP in Nutrition
The need for CRP in nutrition education is great. Nutrition is incredibly personal as we all eat certain foods for a variety of different reasons. Most reasons for eating are linked to social and cultural norms rather than a strong connection to health (though cultural eating is linked to maintenance of health). Nutrition practitioners and educators need to be aware of the delicate interplay between culture and health as new foods and traditions are introduced to the diet. Presenting nutrition information in a culturally relevant manner helps engage individuals by giving them the appropriate context and tools to facilitate change. Below are two examples that help illustrate the need for CRP in nutrition counseling:
In the article, “Culturally tailored post secondary nutrition and health education curricula for indigenous populations”, the authors investigate the types and number of culturally relevant nutrition and health programs offered to students seeking to work with Alaskan natives and studying for an allied health degree. There is a need for such training as Alaskan natives currently face a disproportionate rate of chronic disease development, particularly when Western diets substitute the traditional diet, (McConnell, 2013). After a brief review, the authors found very limited curriculum related to culturally appropriate/relevant nutrition counseling that included spirituality, respect of elders, and personal relationships with the land, waterways, and animals, (McConnell, 2013). The information that they found was limited to stand-alone culturally tailored courses that the authors argued were considered “dead-end” trainings that were short term and only offered non-transferable skill-building, (McConnell, 2013). After a more comprehensive search, the authors found limited offerings of post-secondary training that resulted in a mainstream credential. Reasons for the limited availablity were hypothesized to be possibly related to funding, oral culture, researchers available for study, or a mix of the above, (McConnell, 2013).
The authors’ rationale for culturally tailored curriculum is very interesting, arguing that the more effective nutritional counseling approach was not to create courses for the indigenous patients themselves, but rather train future nutritionists/dietitians with additional credentials to tailor teachings that align with the food norms and beliefs of the target population. This correlates with the CRP theory principles in which states that is the role of the instructor to understand the culture of the class/client, not the client/student, as it is more effective to receive education in a context that is culturally familiar and resonates better with clients, (Pitsoe, 2014).
When considering my own education options, to my knowledge, there isn’t post-secondary continuing education ending in credentials available for nutritionists/dietitians on culturally appropriate/relevant counseling. However, when implemented well, CRP can deliver results. Another article, “Adaptation of a Culturally Relevant Nutrition and Physical Activity Program for Low-Income, Mexican-Origin Parents With Young Children”, described a community intervention nutrition program designed around the “Social Learning Theory” to help low-income hispanic families decrease rates of childhood obesity. This 5-year program gave individuals in the intervention group $25 a month to spend on fresh fruit and vegetables while participating in family nutrition and physical activity nights. As part of the model, the researchers used the “Anchor, Add, Apply, and Away” approach where participants would share food memories from childhood, share stories of life as an immigrant, problem solve by learning to make a new recipe with local foods, and share what was learned at the end of the process, (Kaiser, et. al., 2015). Parents were also asked to provide examples of what they did to promote nutrition and physical activity in their family. This served to give ideas and motivate others in the group. At the end of the program, parents reported that children spent less time watching tv or playing video games, did more physical activity, and either maintained weight or lost weight, (Kaiser, et. al., 2015). This article explores a patient-centered approach to culturally relevant nutrition education where success was gained not only through cultural food norms and values, but also encouraged the exploration of new foods through the social learning theory.
Implementation of CRP in Nutrition Classes
There is a demonstrated need for more culturally relevant pedagogy in nutrition education, particularly considering that using the same teaching techniques on all students does not set up these individuals for sustainable success when cultural aspects to nutrition are not fully incorporated. This begs the question: What are some approaches and examples of using culturally relevant pedagogy in nutrition classes?
According to Pitsoe, in order to maximize learning, teachers must first understand the cultures represented in their classrooms and use that understanding into their lessons, (Pitsoe, 2014). To help with this, the Milwaukee Public Schools offers a list of questions to help teachers gain a better understanding of their students. Figure 1.2 examines these questions.
Once the class culture is understood, the next step is to select instruction strategies that effectively engage that culture. Some ways that teachers have successfully implemented this is by using cultural mythology to open discussions about a topic, conduct an environmental study of pollution in local community, or investigate the nutrition status of the local community, (Cavalli, 2014). These strategies could also be expanded to include discussions on the impacts of technology on food culture and generational culture.
A master’s thesis by A.C. Cavalii, provides an fuller example of CRP as implemented in an urban science class setting. Her approach to CRP involved taking an eleven-lesson unit and blending strategies to incorporate not only direct teaching but also guided inquiry, and community investigation. A summary of her approach can be found in Figure 1.3 below.
By modeling and providing examples for instructors on building culturally relevant lessons, coaches can help teachers better develop online strategies that incorporates cultural relevance to enhance learning and build better online communities.
Cavalli, A. C., (2014). Teaching nutrition and health in the urban science classroom- A blended approach to culturally relevant and problem based learning. Education and Human Development Theses, The College at Brockport [website]. Available at: https://digitalcommons.brockport.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1547&context=ehd_theses
ISTE, (2017). ISTE standards for coaches. Available at: https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Kaiser, L., Martinez, J., Horowitz, M., Lamp, C., Johns, M., et al. (2015). Adaptation of a culturally relevant nutrition and physical activity program for low-income, Mexican-origin parents with young children. Center for Disease Control [webpage]. Available at: (https://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2015/14_0591.htm)
McConnell, S., (2013). Culturally tailored post secondary nutrition and health education curricula for indigenous populations. Int J Circumpolar Health. Available online at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3748461/)
Milwaukee Public Schools, (n.d.). Culturally responsive practices. Available at: http://mps.milwaukee.k12.wi.us/en/Families/Family-Services/Intervention—PBIS/Culturally-Responsive-Practices.htm