Podcast: Dr. Scott McLeod on Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning

Dr. Scott McLeod (@mcleod) is Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Colorado Denver. He’s a leading expert in K-12 technology leadership issues. He has an interesting and broad perspective, perhaps because he started as a middle school social students teacher and earned a joint JD and Ph.D.

McLeod took a break from HigherEd to lead an intermediate unit in Iowa where he was able to work with hundreds of schools as they deployed mobile technology.

It’s not the shift from print to digital that is transformational, argues McLeod, “it doesn’t get to the core of what we do.”

His new book Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning, McLeod argues it’s four big shifts that are transformative: moving from recall to more complex problem solving, doing authentic work, adding voice and choice to build student agency, and infusing technology in powerful ways.

While there has been widespread infiltration of devices, it really hasn’t changed the core processes of education. “We have integrated (tech) but not reimagined or reengineered,” added McLeod

“It’s hard to teach what you don’t know,” said McLeod. He still hears teachers joke about kids knowing more tech than they do. “The big barrier is a mindset of what school should look like,” explained McLeod.

He also observes that “schools change slowly–in decades not days.”

The widely used SAMR model is about tech not teaching argues McLeod. His Four Shifts Protocol (#4shifts) is gaining traction, he argues, because it is concrete about what to think about and look for while building in lots of choices. It is a discussion protocol intended to help facilitate educator conversations about deeper learning, greater student agency, more authentic work, and rich technology infusion (bit.ly/4shifts).

As a sample elementary lesson, McLeod points to a mystery Skype where two classes try to guess their respective locations. By using the Four Shifts Protocol, teachers could add common challenges in both communities.

At the secondary level, McLeod thinks a lot about social studies. He sees a lack of civic knowledge but growing student interest. “The new generation is more activist, more action-oriented,” said McLeod. He’d like to see young people engaged in real civics-related project in the community. “Teachers can use the protocol to shift from reading about how laws are made, to  finding something that should be fixed and go hack at it.”

McLeod is optimistic about more schools taking on the challenge of student-centered active learning.

Key Takeaways:
[:54] How did Scott become a middle school teacher in Charlotte?
[1:42] Why did Scott get his Ph.D. at Iowa?
[3:24] Why has the shift from print to digital in the last (approx.) 30 years not been the huge transformation in learning Tom once thought it would be?
[5:36] Why hasn’t this shift to digital been able to create a new shared vision of learning for teachers?
[10:30] Scott describes the work that he did at Iowa (and internationally) to implement technology.
[13:02] Scott explains why he wrote his recently published book, Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning. He also elaborates on what limitations he wanted to address through the book.
[16:30] Why is deeper learning taking off?
[20:50] What does the 4 Shifts Protocol look like in an elementary lesson?
[27:01] Lightning round: Does Scott think these things are overrated or underrated? Augmented reality, automated scoring, adaptive learning, assistive technology, artificial intelligence, and anywhere-anytime learning!
[30:35] What is Scott optimistic about right now in education?

Mentioned in This Episode:
Scott McLeod’s LinkedIn
Education Week’s Technology Counts Survey
Different Schools for a Different World, by Scott McLeod and Dean Shareski
Harnessing Technology for Deeper Learning, by Scott McLeod and Julie Graber
Getting Smart Ep.151: “Michael Fullan Sees Global Momentum for Deep Learning”
4 Shifts Protocol
Mystery Skype
“Contribution: Schools Alive with Possibility,” by Tom Vander Ark on Getting Smart

For more see

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Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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