Wednesday, February 8, 2012

New Technologies

When I worked with a group of gifted and academically talented middle school students several years ago in a journalism and video production class I was teaching, the last thing I expected was to have to worry about motivation. After all, the widely recognized Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (Silverman, 2012) of a minimum 130 IQ score connotes the brightest among the brightest, and from my vantage point as a teacher of the gifted, working with a group of self-starters was tantamount to an educational godsend. Or, so I thought.

Fact is, motivation for these bright overachievers, who were delving into multimedia and digital applications, became front and center for the new technologies that ensued. Certainly, my pedagogical technology mission was in no way a given. Initially, the students seemed a bit hesitant, if not apprehensive, about their journalism and video production semester-long mission, until I OK’d the use of personal iPods and MP3s as part of Apple’s iMovie and iDVD software to assemble and complete their class projects. At the time, their high-profile college preparatory magnet middle school had enacted a ban on the use of personal electronics during the school day, and it was only after a request from me for a special exemption to work on their semester-long video projects that there seemed to be a rebirth of interest – and energy.

While the Keller ARCS Model ( Driscoll, 2005) was not a paradigm for my class video production project, it easily could have been based on my motivational techniques that screamed for a quick strategy to expose a group of high-performing learners to new and emerging technologies while making above-average videos and having fun in the process. But even after fully laying out the objectives and the time table for the mission, the thing that really got the ball rolling – and their attention – was the accepted use of personal electronics to complement Macromedia and Apple’s much-ballyhooed multimedia and digital software, including iTunes and GarageBand, with which the video production class had become so enamored, they literally begged to forego adjacent classes to spend more time in the computer lab to work on various projects.

No question, their personal iPods, MP3s, and in some cases their own digital video cameras, were the prime driver or motivation for the video projects, which went on to receive regional and national distinction. The conditions were certainly right for a class that was encouraged to have limitless creativity through words and pictures. But their videos allowed them to tweak, revise, and collaborate as a unit. I wasn’t wrong about the caliber of student I had in these individual units. They were unquestionably smart and determined self-starters, but they liked the motivation and confidence early-on for challenging video project. Once their hesitancy and apprehensions were jettisoned, their behavior was modified and transformed into a conducive learning environment. Motivation and self-regulation in learning (Driscoll, 2005), in reflecting on this memorable but productive experience, is a fitting model for this kind of pedagogical success.


Driscoll, M. (2005). Psychology of learning for instruction. (3rd ed.). New York, NY:  Pearson.

Silverman, L. (2012). How to use the new IQ tests in selecting gifted students. Gifted

           Development Center. Retrieved from


URLs for comments on other classmates' "New Technologies" blogs:

Debbie Morris 

Martha Bless


  1. Hi Fred,

    I think that the class you were teaching would be very interesting and captivating to your audience. I agree with you - higher level students and an interesting subject with the opportunity to integrate technology should promote motivation. It is awesome that you could compare your motivational strategies implemented in this lesson to Keller's ARCS Model and find similarities. I know you will agree that it is so rewarding when you witness students learning and enjoying the experience. Your above average productions were evidence of mastery. Great post!

    Sandra Dykes

  2. Fred,

    I understand exactly what you are referring to in your post. It really doesn't matter what the level of ability the students are on, they require motivation. Incorporating the tools they use every day was an awesome idea! Our digital savy students already seem to know so much more than we do about these technical gadgets. When they are allowed to take the wheel and direct their own learning (somewhat), they are empowered and will perform extremely well. The differences in high school's policies relating to using personal technology within the school day are very widespread. Some schools incorporate student cell phones and utilize them for instruction. On the other hand, some high schools are charging $50.00 if a student pulls it out during class. Hats off to you for finding a unique way to raise motivation!


  3. Fred,
    I found it very interesting that you noted the motivation that the personal devices provided to the students. In my posting, I wrote about Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) and the impact this rollout at our campus has had on teachers. Do you have a BYOT program in place at your campus? If so, how is that going? How has teacher reception been for this program?

    1. Carol,

      While a "BYOT" program did not exist at the college preparatory school I alluded to in my blog, there was a high degree of apprehension on the part of many faculty members. In fairness to these faculty members, the school board did not do a good job of providing professional development for faculty members -- and, unfortunately, I don't believe much has changed in this regard since then.

      The fiscal nightmares school districts continue to go through have inhibited a lot of technological advancements. So, in a way, some teachers have had to do their own thing. However, at the university level where I spend most of my time, I will say the institution's administration provides regular technology instruction training, which seems to be paying off handsomely. I just hope the university's approach continues.

      Thanks for the excellent questions. It is my hope professional development involving technology training will be provided at all levels as a matter of routine.