Technology and Instruction: What the Pandemic Taught Us

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Participate and share : Poster

Susan Brooks-Young  
Ryan Imbriale  
Dan Morris  

For decades we’ve talked about technology’s potential in instruction, but it took a pandemic for us to really dive in. Join three experienced educators as we reflect briefly on what we’ve learned in the last year about instructional design, digital learning environments, and teacher support. Share what you’ve learned. Leave with resources you can use tomorrow.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Principals/head teachers, Teachers
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices required
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Attendees need to bring a fully charged device that can access the internet and be used to browse online tools and resources.
Topic: Instructional design & delivery
Grade level: PK-12
ISTE Standards: For Education Leaders:
Equity and Citizenship Advocate
  • Ensure all students have access to the technology and connectivity necessary to participate in authentic and engaging learning opportunities.
Empowering Leader
  • Support educators in using technology to advance learning that meets the diverse learning, cultural, and social-emotional needs of individual students.
Connected Learner
  • Develop the skills needed to lead and navigate change, advance systems and promote a mindset of continuous improvement for how technology can improve learning.
Additional detail: ISTE author presentation
Influencer Disclosure: This session includes a presenter that indicated a “material connection” to a brand that includes a personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship. See individual speaker menu for disclosure information.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

For decades we’ve talked about technology’s potential in instruction for decades, but it took a pandemic for us to really dive in. The purpose of this poster session is to take time to reflect briefly on what we’ve learned in the last year about instructional design, digital learning environments, and teacher support. Participants are encouraged to share what they’ve learned. Online resources are provided.

As a result of attending the poster, participants will:

1. Consider the takeaways shared by the presenters.

2. Think about what they have learned over the past year and share their ideas.

3. Identify topics they’d like to explore further.


1. Overview
A. Content: Overview of poster purpose and objectives, setting the stage.
B. Timeline: 1 minute
C. Process: The pandemic threw us all into emergency mode. How were we going to provide remote instruction to K-12 students? What did we need to know and be able to do to make this happen? After 15 months we ask ourselves this critical question: What crucial lessons have we learned during the pandemic about teaching and learning? As each speaker shares their crucial takeaways, it will be in the context of who they are and their background in K-12 education.

These takeaways are grounded in the following three areas: instructional design; digital learning environments; and, teacher support. The format for the poster will depend largely on the audience. We will explore these areas based on who attends and what they are looking for.

2. What I’ve learned about instructional design. (Susan)
A. Content: In this brief segment, Susan will share three things she knew, but hadn’t thought much about prior to COVID-19, that related directly to how we structure the school day and learning for our students. Her takeaways include looking at: where children learn; the differences between face-to-face and online learning; and, the importance of relationships.
B. Timeline: 5 minutes
C. Process: Susan provides a brief list and description of each of her takeaways and shows where related resources can be found in the LiveBinder.

3. What I’ve learned about distance learning environments (Dan)
A. Content: In this brief segment, Dan will share three key lessons he learned to create and sustain effective distance learning environments. His takeaways include structuring consistent communication and feedback strategies, providing content specifically designed for online/distance learning, and ensuring that students have access to online bandwidth and technology that supports distance learning.
B. Timeline: 5 minutes
C. Process: Dan provides a brief list and description of each of his takeaways and shows where related resources can be found in the LiveBinder.

4. What I’ve learned about providing teacher support. (Ryan)
A. Content: In this brief segment, Ryan will share three key lessons he learned to strengthen teacher effectiveness during and in the immediate aftermath of the pandemic. His takeaways include looking at: supporting teacher resilience; helping teachers sort out how to move forward from here; and, teacher use of diverse technology-supported learning strategies.
B. Timeline: 5 minutes
C. Process: Ryan provides a brief list and description of each of his takeaways and shows where related resources can be found in the LiveBinder.

4. Audience participation:
A. Content: Time for participants to ask questions and share their big takeaways from this school year.
B. Timeline: 5 or more minutes
C. Process: Following the speakers’ sharing of their takeaways from the previous 15 months, participants are invited to ask questions and share what they’ve learned during this same time. An online whiteboard will be available for attendees to use to share their takeaways as well.

Supporting research

This workshop is based on the premise that effective instructional use of technology relies on three factors: how the technology is used rather than what technology is used, offering environments that support digital learning, and professional development opportunities that enable educators to leverage technology-supported learning.

Here are a few examples from research that support these factors:
How Technology Is Used

- Even when teachers and administrator staff felt themselves competent in using ICT available at the school, they reported a lack of guidelines that would lead them to successful integration. And, students reported that ICT is not utilized sufficiently in their classes. Gulbahar, 2007.

- "Just as technology is at the core of virtually every aspect of our daily lives and work, we must leverage it to provide engaging and powerful learning experiences, content, and resources and assessments that measure student achievement in more complete, authentic, and meaningful ways." Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, 2010.

-”Ultimately, a piece of technology is a resource and how that technology is embraced and utilized by the teachers themselves is the ultimate variable of success.” What the Research Says about 1-to-1, Edutopia, 2016.

-“Fluency in the digital realm is more than just understanding how to use technology. Learning must go beyond gaining isolated technology skills toward generating a deep understanding of digital environments, enabling intuitive adaptation to new contexts and co-creation of content with others.” 2017 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition, 2017.

-”Findings from this study suggest that participation in the workshop [based on TPACK framework] resulted in a positive change in behavior, improved technology self-efficacy, and increased ability to overcome obstacles and barriers associated with classroom technology integration among the participants studied.” The Impact of TPACK and Teacher Technology Efficacy on Social Studies Teachers' use of Technology in the Classroom, 2017

-“While educational technology does make learning visible, it is the teacher that makes learning meaningful. How SAMR and Tech Can Help Teachers Truly Transform Assessment, 2018

-“Districts and schools spend millions of dollars on technology each school year, yet in some cases, do very little to support teachers during the implementation process. The result of that lack of support is that devices and web applications are either used sparingly, not at all, or for the wrong reasons.” Technology Has No Impact on Teaching and Learning, Finding Common Ground, 2019

Effective Learning Environments

-”Students are looking for a classroom environment that more closely replicates the way they are using digital tools outside of school to support greater communications and collaboration.” 2014 Speak Up report. Project Tomorrow, 2014.

-“The pervasiveness of active learning pedagogies is requiring a shift in how learning environments are being designed. “ 2017 Horizon Report: K-12 Edition, 2017.

- “Teachers in blended learning classrooms are setting a new bar for transforming learning using technology. For example, 68% report that with the use of technology in their classroom they are better able to differentiate instruction for their students.” Project Tomorrow, 2017.

- “The physical environment is one factor in many impacting on student learning outcomes (OECD, 2010a).” OECD Framework for a Module on the Physical Learning Environment - Revised Edition, 2017.

- “The current takeaway from the research is that there are potential benefits and risks to deploying technology in learning environments. While we can’t wrap this topic up with a bow just yet–there are still more questions than answers–there is evidence that technology can amplify effective teaching and learning when in the hands of good teachers.” The impact learning environment has on benefits is discussed in this meta-analysis of research. Is Technology Good or Bad for Learning? 2019

Professional Development

-“Teachers eager to become technologically fluent need the same kind of support we provide to teachers striving to increase their skills in the teaching of reading, writing, and math” Plair, 2008.

-“Teachers identified five essential elements that they need to effectively and efficiently integrate digital content, tools and resources into daily instruction in their classroom: planning time, access to technology in the classroom, technology support, professional development and consistent, high quality Internet connectivity.” Project Tomorrow, 2017.

-"If you are looking at going to a 1-to-1 or personalized-learning program, whatever it is, there has to be ample time devoted to the 'why' you are doing it and making sure that all of your constituents and stakeholders are actively involved in that process and building their understanding," he said. "Because if you just throw it at them without any training or support or clear understanding of the 'why,' that's when you are going to start seeing the pushback." —Kevin Bushweller Executive Project Editor, Education Week, 2018

“The key to successful 1-to-1 education is more than just giving a student a computer however. As K-12 Blueprint explains, a complete vision is critical to the program’s success. The device itself should only be part of a larger education initiative. The district must have an overarching vision to justify the expense and lead to real outcomes. The ideological vision should influence individual lesson plans, outline parental expectations, and account for technological support needs throughout the district.” Pros and Cons of 1-to-1 Computing, Edudemic, 2017.

-”A new type of school principal, the New Learning Leader, is emerging that is both a digital evangelist at their school supporting new classroom models and an instructional coach providing modeling for their teachers about effective technology use for professional tasks. New Learning Leaders are using data to inform their leadership tasks including providing feedback to their teachers on how to improve classroom practices (89%), setting schoolwide goals (85%) and sharing information with parents (74%).” Project Tomorrow, 2018.

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Susan Brooks-Young, SJ Brooks-Young Consulting
Ryan Imbriale, PowerSchool LLC
Dan Morris, Colorado Digital Learning Solutions