Teaching Tuesday: Scaffolding Using Technology

By Dr. Tracy Vasquez and Dusty Sanchez

Students using technology in the classroom

When we introduce a new skill, it is essential to plan strategies to support student acquisition of content learning through scaffolding methodology. As educators, we must understand that students progress at different paces and benefit from various instructional styles and learning modalities. Technology can be used to support this process of scaffolding by providing us with a variety of tools to support students’ progression from direct instruction to independent practice. 

Differentiated Scaffolding With Technology

Technology gives us the ability to adapt our content into various learning modalities for the different needs of learners. Some learners benefit from the auditory features of technology devices and apps, while others benefit from the visual or gamification components. By knowing our students, what they need for successful learning experiences as well as what components they prefer and enjoy, we can design robust and diverse learning opportunities within our classroom.

Technology serves the role of extending student experiences with content, allowing for successful practice of skills and regular exposure to content in formats that are engaging for learners.

Using Technology as a Tool, Not a Learning Outcome

Technology can be an asset in the classroom when implemented purposefully and thoughtfully. Sometimes, the excitement of implementing technology overshadows its purpose. Technology should be thought of as a tool for students to engage with learning, discover concepts, research, collaborate and take action for a passion project. It should enhance the learning, not serve as a learning outcome.

Focusing on technology integration only to produce outcomes such as presentations or type essays limits the wonderful ways it can add to the learning experience for students, as technology on its own does not motivate learners to engage in the content.1 Planning engaging and meaningful lessons first then adding technology in ways that will enhance the learning experience ensures that technology does not take the place of good teaching, but rather provides new ways for students to see the content and engage with the real-world relevance of it.

How Technology Integration Supports Collaborative Learning

Another aspect to consider with technology is how it can promote interaction and collaboration over isolation of students. If students are only independently utilizing technology, they are missing out on opportunities of meaningful interactions, discourse and sharing of ideas and information. Great ways to implement technologies is to have students participate in digital field trips, research real-world application of concepts such as looking at specific careers, and even research ways to solve a problem in their community.

The important thing to remember is that students thrive in learning environments that have a foundation in equitable learning experiences that allow them to develop their cognitive, affective, intuitive and psychomotor domains through engaging ways such as purposeful implementation of technology.

As we design meaningful and engaging learning experiences in our classrooms, let’s prioritize our focus on scaffolding content learning for all students. We know that for optimal learning to occur, students need supportive practices that will help them extend connections to prior learning and build upon successful learning experiences. By integrating technology into these scaffolding measures, we can boost excitement and engagement of students in our instruction.

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1Retrieved from The Tempered Radical, Technology is a Tool, NOT a Learning Outcome in December 2021 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author’s and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Grand Canyon University. Any sources cited were accurate as of the publish date.

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