News from FETC: Five Insights about Technology from Meg Ormiston

Posted by Matt Berringer on January 31, 2014

During a presentation based on her latest book, “Creating a Digital-Rich Classroom: Teaching & Learning in a Web 2.0 World,” Meg Ormiston modeled techniques for using technology to transform the classroom. Educators at FETC heard many invaluable insights, including:

Backchanneling—the “piece we’re really missing in our classrooms.” Noting that “a lot of classrooms have devices but aren’t truly connecting with students,” Ormiston advocated backchanneling. Using TodaysMeet, Ormiston showed how to use the technology-enhanced technique to create engagement, enhance learning, and gather feedback to guide instruction. “The best backchannel in the world is the one the teacher is not in charge of—when [students] start answering each other’s questions and sharing,” she said.

Redefining teaching and learning. During her presentation, Ormiston shared the SAMR Model—a pyramid defining the level of technology integration in the classroom, which includes the following stages:

  • Substitution—Technology acts as a direct tool substitute, with no functional change.
  • Augmentation—Technology acts as a direct tool substitute with functional improvement.
  • Modification—Technology allows for significant task redesign.
  • Redefinition—Technology allows for the creation of new tasks, previously inconceivable.

“This is working in the schools that I’m using it in. It has helped give us a common language about restructuring lessons,” she said. “What we want are lessons that are redefined—that you could not do without technology.” Ormiston stressed that although the technology is essential, it should not be the focus. “It’s not about the device,” she said. “It’s about changing teaching and learning.

Get it out the door. Charging her audience to “get it out the door,” Ormiston encouraged all to “become a transparent classroom.” “[Being transparent] means that you are showcasing, day in and day out, what’s going on,” she said.

Social media is the real world. “I believe passionately that our job in school is to get kids ready for the real world. And, the real world is social media,” said Ormiston. She encouraged teachers to allow students over 13 years of age to make their own tweets. “Teach them how to create their own network, because that is a life skill that they’re going to need,” she said. She also highlighted #comments4kids, a Twitter hashtag a lot of retired educators follow that will produce good feedback for students’ ideas.

Google tools are essential for today’s students. “Eighty percent of our universities are Google now. And, it’s growing every day,” she said. “We gotta get these kids ready.”

For more information, visit Ormiston’s website at

Topics: technology, education, K-12