Dr. Shannon Doak is the “gadget guy” who knew early in his career that the integration of technology in his classroom was going to make a positive impact on his students. Now, he’s reflecting on what he’s learned, and the impact video technology has with the Four C’s of education.
Discovering the Technology ‘Lightbulb’
Dr. Doak is an Educational Technologist at Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea, HI. He taught elementary students in China before moving to Hawaii. This is his 8th year working in technology integration, helping students and teachers make use of educational tools and processes to improve their learning.
The spark of interest started fairly early for Dr. Doak. During his early years of teaching, he discovered something remarkable when he introduced technology in his classroom. He noticed that when he added a smartboard with interactive PowerPoint slides, the students would be more engaged in their learning. These were the moments when he saw the “lightbulb” go off in their heads. He saw his students were more engaged, their confidence soared, and each one left his class mastering new concepts.
Implementing the Four ‘C’s
Reflecting on his experience, Dr. Doak believes the four cornerstones to education are driven by technology in the classroom. These cornerstones are known as the “Four C’s,” which are Creativity, Communication, Collaboration, and Critical Thinking. Dr. Doak believes focussing on the Four ‘C’s rather than memorizing facts is key to student learning.
- Creativity – Giving students the ability to create.
It’s no longer enough to have students sit in class and test their skills by regurgitating facts they’ve memorized. According to Dr. Doak, our future students need more. He says, “They have to be able to create. They have to have this out of the box thinking.”
Technology provides students with the skills to be creative. Students create in multiple ways. For instance, with the use of video creation software, students have the ability to produce their own videos, giving them a creative outlet to share their ideas or passions with the world.
“I think technology is one of the best tools in the classroom to help promote creativity.”
2. Communication – Providing students with communication skills.
Communication comes to play every day whether it’s in the classroom or virtually online. Dr. Doak believes communication skills are extremely important to have outside of the classroom. Adding that technology plays a huge role in how students communicate.
Through the use of videos, chats, or podcasts, students are able to communicate effectively with their core group. Dr. Doak terms this group as the ‘authentic audience,’ a community of people, mainly comprised of family members, friends, or close individuals. The core group encourages students to take ownership of their own learning.
For instance, before students share their own video or podcast, they often question whether what they’re sharing is their best work. Dr. Doak repeatedly hears students say “No. I can do better.” They end up starting over and pushing themselves to reach higher levels of excellence with their work.
3. Collaboration – Learning how to work with others.
Dr. Doak firmly believes today’s global workforce requires more students to collaborate with others. An industry is no longer comprised of lone wolves. The workforce needs teams who can collaborate effectively to complete overall goals and projects.
He believes tech tools like Google Apps for Education are essential for learning. It teaches educators and students to collaborate on projects, giving them the opportunity to work together in the classroom.
He says, “With Google slides you have one presentation, but you have possibly 5 or 6 people adding to it and it doesn’t matter where they’re at. Collaboration is huge.”
Video helps with collaboration. Students can easily use a screen recording tool like Screencast-O-Matic and effectively collaborate with the class. While teachers are able to provide personalized feedback on projects and assignments.
4. Critical thinking – Problem-solving skills are a must.
Doak states critical thinking comes down to problem-solving for students. Are they able to solve problems on their own? Could they become computational thinkers?
As an example, problem-solving helps students search online. He says, “Being able to think critically about things is going to help students basically judge what they’re finding on the internet. They will be able to say, is that fake or is that real? Should I trust this? Is this a good source?”
Having critical thinking skills helps students solve problems on their own, creating a greater awareness of what they will encounter in the future.
Students Excel With Video Technology
Dr. Doak believes using video technology in the Four ‘C’s is fairly easy and he has seen a positive impact in the classroom. The students excel in ways that a traditional classroom isn’t able to teach.
“Students are able to make videos quickly and easily especially with tools like Screencast-O-Matic.”
Through the multiple years he’s been an educator, he has seen video become a tool for excelling at all grade levels. Dr. Doak states, “They have ownership of that and they do a better job. They want to make it as best as can be. What I can see is that when you have the video and you have a platform to share it with an ‘authentic audience,’ it creates ownership with the learning and when you see this long enough, the student becomes invested in their learning. They want to improve everything they do.”
How Technology Can Solve The World’s Problems
Implementing the Four ‘C’s is one of the many things he finds passion in. Dr. Doak believes technology is paving the way for our future and provides a connection to others.
“Give that connection and the devices that enable connection, to the world, we could easily make education available to everyone on the planet.”
What he has seen as one of the biggest hurdles in education is the disparity between poor and wealthy students and their access to technology. It’s one reason why Dr. Doak is a big proponent of using Chromebooks in the classroom. Chromebooks are generally inexpensive, and he feels the majority of people can afford them.
“Not everyone can afford to have a $1,500 computer. The progressive web apps are the future in my mind. If you can create an app that works on all platforms, no matter what platform it is because its browser-based, great, let’s even the playing field and give everyone that tool.”
Doak believes having access to a Chromebook laptop levels the playing field for students, as long as there is access to the technology.
A huge advantage is that Chromebooks are armed with tools and apps that can help students learn. Screencast-O-Matic has a Chrome browser extension that is downloadable for free. Educators and students can create screen recordings with just a few clicks and they are able to share their work easily with the class.
Dr. Doak expresses his dream of everyone around the world being able to have the internet, and access to a device.
“Technology has the means to make a difference because who knows? Maybe the smartest person in the world has a cure for cancer and it’s some farmer in China. He can’t afford to go to school and so, therefore, that cure doesn’t happen. So if we can use technology to enhance education and provide it to the world, we’re solving lots of world problems. I can guarantee it.”
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