Effective Edtech Integration

This week’s focus for #COETAIL13 Course One – Week 4 is centred upon effective strategies for educational technology implementation and integration.

ISTE Educator Learner Standard Indicator 2b –  Shape and empower a shared vision of learning with ed-tech with your stakeholders.

From the readings, the two most influential and enjoyable, which I’ll unpack below, were:

Edutopia Article

This article won me over in their intro about looking out for “devils in sheep’s clothing” during the pandemic. In other words, stick with less gimmicky items and focus more on good pedagogy – your gut should take care of the rest. If there are too many sparkles, it may not be the best for your learners.

These five tips shared offer a great starting point:

  • Efficacy: Does the student learning actually look great behind all the bells, whistles and other testimonials?
  • Student experience: Try and experience the medium the way your learners will.  Is the user interface engaging and simple to use?
  • Intrinsic motivation: Think more open sandbox and fewer points, bells, whistles, etc. when choosing a medium.
  • Vygotskian ZPD factor: I don’t think this is a “must”, but is the medium adaptive to personalize each user to be operating just out of their comfort zone and in their challenge zone?
  • Teacher experience: What benefits will this app give you, your colleagues, or other teachers in your organization? For example, will it offer data in a way that is easy for you?

TeachThought Article

These questions are gold.

I can’t even narrow down this list to any questions that I don’t like.

It’s that good that I’ll be using this for future coaching, workshops and more.

One question that transitions nicely into my next sub-heading is, “Have I started with purpose and pedagogy instead of the tech?

Start with TPaCK

Being passionate about Edtech for years, I’m often sought out by colleagues with inquiries about technology integration-specific questions and help amongst my colleagues.

My starting questions are usually about the enduring understanding of the unit they are teaching. In other words, I want to know the GRASPS statement, the summative task, or “What knowledge and understandings do you want your learners to walk away with?”. This is the way… the UbD way.

More importantly, it is the TPaCK way. If you’re unfamiliar with TPaCK, I highly recommend watching this short video. Essentially, you start with your curricular or “content knowledge” (i.e. the standards drive the learning in your context). Next, you know your craft, or, put simply, are the expert in the “pedagogical knowledge” as to your delivery of the content. Lastly, the “technical knowledge” is understanding what “tech” will best make the understanding and knowledge of the content visible.

Other super important consideration – knowing your learners and the context in which you teach (represented by the dashed line below).

The sweet spot is where all three circles overlap 😎.

Matthew Koehler, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons
Matthew Koehler, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

So let’s stop for a second.

Close your eyes and ask yourself – “What is ‘technology‘?” or, better yet “What do I see when I see ‘technology‘?”

What did you come up with?

Did you include some of the things in this photo?

Image by Melk Hagelslag from Pixabay

Remember that technology is all around us. Papers, pencils, computers, and chairs combined. Digital technology is just one aspect when it comes to putting a label on this term.

In sum, curriculum first, use your pedagogical expertise to scaffold the learning, then select the best tech to get you there.

Add in some and/or all of TeachThought’s 15 questions and this should steer you to an excellent end result!


I can’t write a post on this topic and not include SAMR. However, I do put it at the bottom of this post for the following reasons:

  • It is a much better post-unit reflection tool for teachers rather than an initial integration planning tool. TPaCK is much, much better, in my opinion. Think of SAMR as a “How could I use digital technology better next time?” metacognitive process.
  • It’s a rather intimidating model for those who are starting out. If the goal for a coach and a teacher is to build confidence with integrating more digital technology into their pedagogy, then shooting for “redefining” from the start, or worse, each time can be daunting. Augmenting and modification are perfectly acceptable results, too.
  • It is a good litmus test to see whether or not an activity is just “substituting” the digital tech for the sake of it. However, during a pandemic, I would say that sometimes substituting can get a pass if it is one of the options to complete an activity at home.


Some final questions I’d like you to ruminate upon when considering which educational technology to use in your classroom are the following:

  • Am I offering “choice” for my learners in the way they would like to make their learning visible? Does the choice include a balance of digital and non-digital technologies?
  • Are the choices I’m including/teaching allow for all of my learners to communicate their “voice” in a variety of ways?
  • Have I listened to the “voices” in my classroom and been open-minded to other options for students to make their thinking visible? This is a great time to be vulnerable and learn alongside and from other students. Empower them to lead a workshop! If you’ve co-created and communicated your success criteria well enough, then students may come up with some amazing ideas!

The by-product of saying “YESS!” to these questions is creating “ownership” in learning. In other words, building self-efficacious and empowered learners!

Tonya Gilchrist has summed up what AGENCY means in the context of the curriculum in which I deliver my craft beautifully (which stems from the work of Albert Bandura) in this illustration below.

Source: https://tonyagilchrist.com/measure-agency/

Hopefully, I have empowered you to think more deeply about the ways you integrate educational technology in your teaching context.

I leave you with one of my favourite quotes on the subject, by George Couros

Connected learning

This week’s COETAIL13 – Course One emphasis was on connected learning.

ISTE Educator Learner Standard links:

  • 1a – Set goals
  • 1b – Networked connections

Connections to some major education concepts, themes and topics:

10,000 hours vs. 20 hours?

Not sure I align 100% with what Josh Kaufman posits in his TED Talk; it’s a little too generalist and oversimplified. If you haven’t watched it, Josh elucidates that one can get “good enough” at anything in 20 focused hours, rather than Ericsson’s well-cited 10,000-hour theory.  To be fair to Josh (and Ericsson), he does clarify that the 10,000 hours was always defined as an “expert” level theory and the “expert” part is often left out (suffering from a case of telephone game as it’s passed on).

With Kaufman’s 20 hour oversimplification, I’d be more sold if he used the term “basic foundations”, rather than “good enough”  on anything with 20 solid hours.

When I think about three of my passions (tennis, climbing and photography), which I still approach with “Shoshin” and have spent well over 20 dedicated hours, “good enough” would not be even close to a label/level of comfort I would be satisfied with.

All three are lifelong and enduring. They continually challenge me, empower me to persevere and have enough varying degrees of challenge. Jocko Willink and Joe Rogan term this as “embracing the suck“.

Essentially, all three continually ask me to step out of my comfort zone.

Therefore, Kaufman would’ve sold me more by specifically narrowing his theory to something like, “20 hours is an appropriate amount of ‘good enough’ time for smaller (or bite-sized) learning projects/passions.”

COETAIL’s Call to action

This week, we were asked to be put on the hook, setting a goal to “geek out” and get “good enough” with.

So, here’s my action plan…

Goal: Continue to gain perspective and skill in photography

My actionable next steps:

  • Go on a Saigon Photo Walk with budding photographers one Sunday
    • Why: To gain varied perspective; F2F networking; F2F skill development
    • How: Group on Facebook – sign up via invite and pay a small charitable fee
  • Share photos from Photo Walk to Photo Walk Group and COETAIL
    • Why: To seek constructive feedback online
  • Try one challenge from Dave Caleb‘s Photography Toolkit
    • Why: To seek new perspectives; gain new skills; try something new; learn from an expert who’s also an educator.
  • Share Photography Toolkit Challenge on Twitter and Facebook with related hashtags (and tagging Dave)
    • Why: To seek constructive feedback online

Due date: April 1st, 2021

Now to test if my goals are SMART enough…

Specific ✅ Measurable ✅Achievable ✅Realistic ✅ Time-sensitive ✅

What impact, connections, and or empathy piece could this have for my learners?

  • Underly the importance of regular goal setting
    • Here’s a blog post that talks about how my learners set goals for reading
  • Providing opportunities for student-driven inquiries in the curriculum
    • This Tweet has some photos detailing how my team and I make this happen.
  • The importance of scaffolding skill development and goal-setting (e.g. SMART goals)
    • Here’s a simple slide deck I use to workshop with students on setting SMART goals
  • Respecting the voice, choice and ownership (i.e. human agency) of my learners and being sure that this is at the forefront of all pedagogy in my context.

What about you?

  • What’s a passion that you’d like to “geek out” on? Why not write a “SMART” goal-setting contract to yourself to achieve your limitless potential?
  • What implications and/or next steps could this reading have for your teaching context?





Research musings

The focus of Course One : Week Two was based on the ISTE for Educators Learner standard indicator 1c – Staying current with research to improve the teaching and learning in your context.

In addition, some of the readings and resources centred on teaching research skills to our learners, which would align nicely with the Citizenship ISTE Educator standard, 3b, which centers on the critical examination of online sources, building digital literacy and media fluency.

In a connected world, research should fall on your lap…

I like RSS feeds (Feedly’s my preference), sure, but Twitter and knowing some Boolean Search basics are fundamentals in today’s age.


Just recently, I was catching up with a friend who is currently doing some Master’s research. He mentioned he was struggling to find information for his literature review. Whilst listening, I threw out my advice (EBSCO, KQED, etc.) and also tweeted this to my connections on Twitter. Within 24 hours… the skies opened up for him! My tweet put him in touch with experts locally and abroad, as well as links to some great published papers.

Developing, curating and being an active participant in professional learning networks (PLNs) pay their dividends when it comes to times like these. They are, almost always, my first port of call for any major wonderings (after I’ve done some searching as well).

Google Ninja Skills

Whenever my kiddos and I do some info report writing and/or work on our research skills, I usually run a workshop around some of Google Ninja Skills (a top 10 curation).


In addition to some Google Ninja skills belt upgrades, it’s crucial to teach kids about TRAAP (aka as CRAAP, for lack of a better acronym) testing their resources. In a world of deep fakes, fake news and more, this is a super important litmus test to teach and apply to any resource.

After watching the video linked above, here are a few resources that I use with my kiddos:

MISO Research

And whilst we’re talking about research, it is worth mentioning the MISO method, championed by the service-learning guru, Cathyrn Berger Kaye. We were lucky enough to bring her in as a keynote speaker in a pre-pandemic, face-to-face, professional learning conference with my current employer.

The MISO method is such a great scaffold for building action research skills.

MISO stands for media, interview, survey and observation. It gels lovely with design thinking, too! Here are some resources that I find helpful in regards to MISO:

How about you?

  • How do you curate research to push to you?
  • What skills or tools do you use to make the curation of information a breeze?
  • What are some skills that you teach your learners to develop their research skills and be critical consumers of information?

Some other resources related to this topic worth sharing:

Beyond “lurking”

This week’s readings brought up several ideas worth discussing

Creativity stems from creative consumption of media – not just consuming

Jeff’s blog post, “What does it mean to disconnect?“, the message of focusing on creating rather than consuming, linked me to John Spencer’s amazing video, “Why consuming is necessary for creating“.

If you liked Spencer’s video, follow it up with his amazing blog post on the subject.

New media - a portal to creativity and peer collaboration

Balance is important in no matter what we do, online and off, and there’s certainly value to consuming, especially when it’s used to create.

This is a message I strongly purport to those I guide, my son included.

“New” Media

Ito, Mizuko, et al.’s  reading on, “Living and learning with new media“, had many connections to my youth. I remember all the chat’s on Napster, MySpace, and IM. Anyone else guilty buying those gamer magazines for those “cheat codes” or lethal combo strikes for games like Mortal Combat or Street Fighter?

Even the dating element struck a few chords. While I may be a bit old for apps like Tinder, I do remember flirting on Facebook and even tried some online dating websites when I was a free agent…haha.

Moving beyond “Lurking”

Whilst both readings may be dated, the messages within them are not. They both still relate to the theme of this week  of peer connected learning and moving beyond the “lurker” stage.

I love seeing my son, in his true digital native form, navigating, communicating, exploring and learning with his peers, (mostly) uninterrupted for a defined time period in online spaces. Some days it’s learning about how to build the next best thing in Minecraft, others it’s how to advance his skills in the latest Roblox game with his friends.

I particularly enjoy the way he and his peers build each other up in their community so they can all enjoy their passion together. This is particularly salient when they may not be able to see one another due to whatever pandemic related lockdown restrictions may be in place.

Often I catch him in the moment of learning on an online math site, or perhaps watching a YouTube video, then seamlessly, with no intervention, asking Google or Siri something he doesn’t understand, then flicking back to the original content.

Sure, there’s a lot of noise to eventually get this signal, but it’s moments like these that solidifies the argument that the best time to live is now. In other words, all of this digital technology can undermine our well-being, if not used with intentionality and purpose.

“New media” = An outlet for self-directed learning and agency

Interests are easier to pursue online since it connects us to anyone with a device and an internet connection with similar interests.

The world is truly our oyster and niche interests, knowledge and experts are accessible because of this new media.

Just imagine a world without places like Wikipedia, Reddit, TripAdvisor, and more?! Crowd-sourcing is truly a remarkable thing.

In sum, “new media” is the perfect culture for a beautiful milieu of Vygotskyian social constructivism, Pink’s ideas on motivation, and Bandurra’s theory of self-efficacy. In other words, learners strive when they step out of their comfort zone, have autonomy, learn and seek feedback from peer experts, work towards mastery, have a purpose and more.

Some wonderings that arose from the readings…

  • What role will VR take as it becomes more ubiquitous and accessible to today’s youth?
  • Now that AI is becoming more porous into our everyday, how is that changing the way the next generation learns, navigates, connects, communicates and finds balance?
  • What are schools doing to educate children in terms of becoming leaders in these domains? Are they going beyond just citizenship in these digital spaces?

A call to action – Questions to ask, as educators…

  • How do you use “new media” to empower, energize and engage your learners in the ability to self-direct their own learning?
  • How do you leverage the use of “new media” to connect learners beyond the borders of your classroom to increase their perspective, or perhaps help them find more people interested in niche topics suited to their personal interests?
  • How do you model, share, discuss, provide opportunities, reflect and promote leadership in “new media”?

Three great resources to extend your thinking on this topic

If you struggle with answers or are looking for ideas to any of the above questions, here are some great resources/ learning opportunities for you:

  1. Read Social LEADia – A guidebook to empowering your learners to become leaders in digital spaces.
  2. Read Lifelong Kindergarten – School yourself on Papert’s construstionist ideals and wisdom through his number one protégé, Resnick. Definitely ticks the “geeking out” box.
  3. Reach out to Adam Hill & Jennifer Casa-Todd and enroll in their Empowered Digital Leaders course – Another way to get more connected and learn from some expert peers on various topics to empower you and your learners around digital leadership.

Learning goals for COETAIL

Since COETAIL frames  learning with the ISTE standards, below are two educator learner standard indicators that will personalize and shape my professional growth.


1b- Looking forward to collaborating with people beyond my current network in this cohort and COETAIL alumni. Diverse perspectives challenge and help us grow.

1c – The provocations of new readings and research, then consolidating, applying and reflecting will benefit both me and my learners.

As an ISTE certified educator, I’m looking forward to using my fluency with the standards, married with new COETAIL learning experiences,  to further develop my practice and enhance the learning experiences for my students and educators in my network.

My connections

By and large, Twitter is the place which keeps me most connected. My top three networks that I’m most active in would be:

  • my work, #ishcmcIB,
  • my curricular network for the IB’s primary years programme, #pypchat (as well as #pypconnected),
  • and the (mostly) monthly educator network, #PubPDAsia, that also has a face-to-face component as well!

Other networks that I’m apart of, yet lurk or check in a bit less frequently are:

  • #isedcoach: A network for international education coaches (majority who are innovation or edtech focused in their disciplines).
  • #AppleEDUchat: Mostly a network of Apple teachers and Apple Distinguished Educators sharing ideas and discourse.
  • #COETAIL: I’m sure will become more used the more invested I get in the course.
  • #ssislearns: Keeps me in touch with my most recent former employer, colleagues and the sharing going on in that community.
  • #UBCMET: A place to connect with my Master of Educational Technology alumni from the University of British Columbia.
  • #CognitaWay: My current employer is owned by Cognita; a good place to share learning and be inspired from Cognita wide events
  • #ISTEcert: As an ISTE certified educator, it’s a great network to share learning and examples of the standards in practice.

What are some ways that you stay connected as an educator?

Let the journey begin

Hello and welcome to my first post to begin my COETAIL13 journey!

My name is Justin Ouellette. I’m originally from Windsor, ON, Canada but have lived most of my adult life in Asia. I’m currently living and working in Saigon as a Studio 4 PYP educator at the International School of Ho Chi Minh City (aka  ISHCMC).

You can reach out to me on Twitter (@juouelle); I do use it quite often to stay connected and network with fellow educators.

Aside from education and technology, I’m very passionate about climbing, tennis, photography and spending time in the outdoors with my family.


Well, it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and has been on “the list”, so the timing is just right let’s say. Colleagues and COETAILers like Lina (@MypClassroom) and Cindy (@innovative_inq) have always highly recommended it as well, so they further added to my motivation.

I’m most looking forward to connecting, collaborating, sharing, reflecting and learning alongside a new group of people and challenging myself outside of my comfort zone.

Stay tuned… 🙂