Friday, August 2, 2013

You Can CRAM it!

Photo is CC licensed at tofugu.com
I recently read a blog post from Richard Byrne titled, Cram - Create, Study, and Share Online Flashcards which really got me fired up!  Now don't get me wrong, I really like Richard, and he has shared some amazing resources on his blog, Free Technology for Teachers that I have used with my students and have shared with my PLN.  However, this is one technology tool that I just simply do not support.

Technology integration should be transformational, not translational.  Cram, unfortunately, is an non-example of transformational technology use.  In other words, this is an example of what we DON'T want for our students.  To further illustrate my point, the following sentence was copied directly from Cram's website.  And I quote:


"Flashcards are effective because they are founded on the principles of rote and memorization."


Not only are we encouraging this type of learning by using this tool, but we are enabling our very own education system to continue to create assessments that do not challenge our students and primarily focus on "rote and memorization" skills.  Moreover, when we ask students to "cram" they really don't learn the information, they just temporarily store the information in their short-term memory.


SAMR Model Photo CC licensed by Langwitches


When referring to the SAMR model, our technology integration should aim toward "Redefinition" not toward "Substitution".  Cram is a textbook example of technology that is being used not only for substitution, but for Bloom's lowest possible level of learning, "Remembering"—recall and memorization.  This is because Cram is replicating the traditional use of paper flashcards.  The SAMR model's definition of "Substitution" states:

"Tech acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change."

We as leaders, for meaningful and transformational technology integration, need to be pursuing "Redefining" opportunities for teaching and learning.  This "Redefining" use of technology is what allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable (SAMR model).

I realize that I am "glorifying" and publicizing Cram with this blogpost, but I feel that is worth my time and effort to write about it.  We simply can't make transformational progress with translational tools like this!

So, on behalf of students everywhere, I would just like to say, "Cram, you can CRAM it!"

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