Have you played the ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ game? It was a favourite with our IT team when sitting in traffic on our way back from technology get-togethers in Bangkok. To quote Wikipedia:
[It] is a trivia game based on the concept of the small world phenomenon and rests on the assumption that any individual can be linked through his or her film roles to actor Kevin Bacon within six steps. The name of the game is a play on the “six degrees of separation” concept.
So what’s this to do with Technology Integration? For an integrator, what is the best use of time to make the biggest impact on student learning? How many degrees of separation from the students is the ideal measure?
If you work directly with the students such as team-teaching or providing in-class technical support, that means that you can only work with one high school class at a time. No degrees of separation but time consuming if you multiply this for each teacher delivering the same course – which at my school could be 6 different teachers for one subject as we have 6 classes per year group. OK – so the students benefit from your expertise but how does this support the teacher for future, dynamic, seamless infusion of technology?
However, if you work with the whole team of teachers and use your time to co-plan, prepare materials, provide training and set up the systems and provide limited in-class support, that means that you are generally one degree of separation from the students as it is the teacher that is the one on the front line and promoting technology in the classroom – and in doing so, that teacher gains experience in using the technology, becomes more confident in using technology in the classroom and, mostly importantly, is to seek out future opportunities in which to use technology in the learning process.
What about 2 degrees of separation? Well, we think of this as any tool that indirectly impacts students learning, for example, training teachers to use their email or set up contact groups to use Powerschool or setting up Turnitin accounts.
3 degrees of separation could be working with Heads of Department or Grade Level Leaders to set up communication systems (for example, a wiki), for planning within their department or grade level. As an integrator, is this too far removed from the students? Would it be better to set up the wiki and then ‘train’ the teachers on how it is used, i.e. go back to to 2 degrees?
Anything more than 3 degrees and you may as well join the Kevin Bacon fan club or visit the Bacon Brothers website!
Ideally, for now, I am trying for the ‘1 degree model‘ – that does mean less direct contact with students but more time to work with teachers and build bespoke resources; however, I balance my time with two classes of my own – IB ITGS – which allows me to sandbox and trial new ideas and addressing the technical and logistical issues before ‘going public’.
Questions to ponder:
- How often are you or your integrators closer to Kevin Bacon than your students?
- What is the ideal degree of separation?
- What is the ideal integration model?
- Should integrators have their own classes?
When writing this entry, I stumbled upon SixDegrees.org, which is a charitable initiative of Kevin Bacon. SixDegrees.org is about using this idea to accomplish something good – it’s social networking with a social conscience. It was started with the nonprofit Network for Good in January 2007, more than 10 years after the game, “Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon” made the rounds of college campuses and lived on to be a shorthand term for the small world phenomenon.