To Be Or Not To Be, Rat Is The Question

 

Description of an Experience

This week we were introduced to an assessment framework called the RAT Model (Hughes, Thomas & Scharber, 2006) that we can use to evaluate our integration of ICT and pedagogy in our classrooms. The RAT Model leads us to understand if ICTs are functioning as replacement, amplification, or transformation in our pedagogy. ‘Replacement’ refers to using technology to replace established instructional practices and student learning processes. The technology merely serves as a different (digital) means to the same instructional end (Hughes et al., 2006). ‘Amplification’ refers to using technology to increase the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of instructional practices and student learning processes. The tasks stay fundamentally the same while the technology enhances and extends instruction and learning (Hughes et al., 2006). Finally, ‘transformation’ refers to using technology to reinvent aspects of instruction and learning in new and original ways. For example, new cognitive forms could emerge, new people could be involved, or new content may be accessible (Hughes et al., 2006). Thus the RAT Model helps us to understand how we might integrate ICTs in our pedagogy to enhance (amplification) and transform student learning in our classrooms.

rat model
The Rat Model helps us to evaluate the integration of ICT and pedagogy in our classrooms.

Image source: https://ellajhenderson.wordpress.com/2016/03/16/theres-a-rat-in-here/

Personal Experience

The RAT Model has challenged my existing understanding around using ICTs to enhance and transform teaching and learning. When I began this course I was very confused about these two concepts. In particular, I was confused about:

  • What does it mean to use ICTs to ‘enhance’ teaching and learning?
  • What does it mean to use ICTs to ‘transform’ teaching and learning?
  • What is the difference between using ICTs to ‘enhance’ and ‘transform’ teaching and learning?

Having engaged with the RAT Model and conducted my own research around using ICTs to enhance and transform teaching and learning, I have gained new understanding that will enable me to more effectively evaluate the integration of ICT and pedagogy in my classroom. Further, this new understanding will enable me to make critical decisions regarding using ICTs to both enhance and transform teaching and learning in my classroom.

confused-smiley
What is the difference between using ICTs to enhance and transform teaching and learning?

Image source: http://www.symbols-n-emoticons.com/2012/09/confused-smiley-for-facebook-chat.html

Critical Analysis

Research conducted by Kirschner and Wopereis (2003) has enhanced my understanding of the RAT Model and informed my new understanding around using ICTs to enhance and transform teaching and learning. Kirschner and Wopereis (2003) state, “ICT is too often used as a modern and efficient substitute for existing learning and teaching materials and seldom as a vehicle for innovation and transformation of education” (p. 107). In terms of the RAT Model, this means that ICT is used to replace and amplify teaching and learning rather than to transform teaching and learning. “Although ICT use in the classroom has increased, this is almost completely limited to generic tools” (Kirschner & Wopereis, 2003, p. 107). These generic tools include word processing and Internet searches. Kirschner and Wopereis (2003) refer to these generic tools as ‘productivity tools’ because they “simply support old working practices with additional efficiency or flexibility” (p. 107).

Kirschner and Wopereis (2003) distinguish between using new technologies as a way to make teaching and learning more efficient and productive (amplification) and using new technologies as a means to reform and innovate teaching and learning (transformation). ICT tools that are used to transform teaching and learning are referred to as ‘cognitive technologies’, ‘tools of the mind’ or ‘mindtools’ because they “help users represent what they know as they transform information into knowledge and are used to engage in, and facilitate, critical thinking and higher-order learning” (Kirschner and Wopereis, 2003, p. 108). Kirschner and Wopereis (2003) argue that ‘mindtools’ transform teaching and learning as they “help users to think for themselves, [and] make connections between concepts and create new knowledge” (p. 110). When ICT is used in a transformative way, opportunities for ‘new kinds of learning’ are made possible, as learners are stimulated to “learn actively, independently, in a self-directed way and/or in collaboration with others” (Kirschner and Wopereis, 2003, p. 106).

Outcome

Therefore, the aim of integrating ICT and pedagogy in our classrooms is not to replace what currently happens in teaching and learning by using ICTs. Rather, the aim should be to use ICTs in our pedagogy to enhance (amplification) or transform (change entirely) what currently happens in teaching and learning to improve learning outcomes for students.

transform vs enhance
We should be aiming to use ICTs to transform teaching and learning. We should be aiming to ‘teach above the line’.

Image source: https://ucttraining.wordpress.com/page/2/

References

Hughes, J., Thomas, R., & Scharber, C. (2006). Assessing Technology Integration: The RAT – Replacement, Amplification, and Transformation – Framework. In C. Crawford, R. Carlsen, K. McFerrin, J. Price, R. Weber, & D. A. Willis (Eds.), Society for Information Technology & Teacher Education International Conference 2006 (pp. 1616-1620). Orlando, Florida: AACE. Retrieved fromhttp://www.editlib.org/p/22293/

 

Kirschner, P., & Wopereis, I. G. J. H. (2003). Mindtools for teacher communities: a European perspective. Technology, Pedagogy and Education, 12(1), 105–124. doi:10.1080/14759390300200148

 

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