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Technology Tip of the Month

June, 2012: Designing Lesson Plans That Incorporate Technology

by Deborah Healey

This is an updated version of the June, 1996 tech tip

All good lesson plans begin with the same basic elements: Gagne's nine events of instruction provide another look at the same thing: effective communication of information for better learning. These are:
  1. Gain the learner's attention
  2. State the objectives
  3. Recall prior knowledge
  4. Present the stimulus (something to respond to)
  5. Provide guidance
  6. Elicit performance (decision-making in realistic situations)
  7. Provide feedback relevant to the situation
  8. Assess performance
  9. Enhance retention and transfer to different situations
(from Gagne, R.M. & Briggs, L.J. (1979). Principles of instructional design (2nd ed.). New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.

Adding Technology

So how are technology-enhanced lessons different?
Adding technology means keeping a few additional areas in mind:

What will you use? One computer, lab, class laptops, mobile devices, mixture?
Where are the outlets? Do you need extension cords? Power strips? Will students need to plug in as well?
Does the room need to be darkened? Will it get dark enough for people to see if you're using a projector? Can everyone sit where the screen is visible?
Special settings
Do you know the timing on the video so that you can start and stop where you want to? Is any needed software available? If you're using more than one video clip or program, how smoothly and quickly can you go from one to the other? Did you check any websites to be sure they are still available and what you expect? (Do this right before class as well, if possible.)
If at all possible, do a dry run ahead of time on the equipment you'll be using--it's much easier to add missing pieces ahead of time than in the middle of a class.
Classroom management
Plan ahead. Think about what you want students to do and when. It is very difficult to gain the class's attention in the middle of the session, so plan any off-computer activities for the start or end of the session.If you want to get the whole class's attention in a lab, have students turn off their monitors when you want them to listen to what you're saying. Give students specific tasks to do while they are on the computer or on their devices and a time limit. Have them turn in something or otherwise be accountable for the time they spend - this helps them stay focused. Any vague instructions, like "look at x website," will probably result in at least some students going to the website briefly, then back to texting or to elsewhere case of emergency break glass-with pencil behind glass
Backup plan
Always have a backup plan to use if:
  1. One component is missing or doesn't work
  2. Nothing will run on the equipment you have brought to class
  3. The Internet connection is limited or not working
  4. There's no electricity (in that case, maybe it's time for a quick trip outside or to a local coffee shop...)

Lesson Plan Template

Here's a template you can modify to suit your needs; feel free to send me your additions and suggestions!

Objective to write on the board:

--Comments for yourself about the objective:

Equipment and material required (include power supplies and peripherals, text, graphics, audio, video):

Configuration of the learning space:

Review/recall of prior knowledge:

Presentation of the objective:
--Primary learning mode:
--Additional learning modes and how they will be accessed:

Practice format (including learning modes):

How feedback will be given:

Later review (what learning modes?):

Question/activity to enhance retention and transfer to different situations:

Backup Plan:

Sample Lesson Plan

This assumes students at a high-intermediate level who are working on human rights issues and who have used the websites before.
Objective to write on the board:
Find the main idea and supporting details in an article about the person or place you have chosen.
--Comments for yourself about the objective:
Make sure students who missed the previous class get the handout and extra help getting started
Material required:
Working in the lab with specific websites and handouts.
Configuration of the learning space:
Students start by looking at the board (with the computer monitors turned off to encourage paying attention to the teacher), then work in pairs or threesomes at the computer.
Review/recall of prior knowledge:
Off-computer review of the handout on finding the main idea from the last class.
Presentation of the objective:
List on the board: Choose a person or place from the readings we've done in class. Work with two partners to find an article about that person or place. Write the name of the website, the title of the article, the main idea, and 2-4 supporting details from the article.
Primary learning mode:
--Additional learning modes and how they will be accessed:
visual--graphical (if there is a related graphic on the website); aural--students discuss the main idea and supporting details with their group; kinesthetic--paging through and typing the inform ation.
Practice format (including learning styles):
Students read the article and write the main idea and supporting details after discussing them with their group.
How feedback will be given:
Whole-class discussion of what they found; teacher evaluation from what students have written
Later review (what learning styles?):
Students explain what they found to the group (oral/aural style)
Question/activity to enhance retention and transfer to different situations:
Students do an additional search for homework; what they find will be incorporated into a short oral and written report.
Backup plan A:
Go to the library and look up the information there, either in the print reference works or via CD-ROMs.
Backup plan B:
Discuss heroes from your country; what qualities do they have? How do they compare to the people in the readings from last time?

While each teacher will need to customize lesson plans to fit his/her setting, this template can serve as a place to start. Good luck!

See Other tech tips

If you have questions, comments, or for more information, contact Deborah Healey, dhealey AT uoregon DOT edu
Last updated 4 June, 2012