Final COETAIL reflections

This is the end of my COETAIL journey after 13 months. This last post comes with an interview that shows how I used what I’ve learned during this time when re-designing a Theory of Knowledge unit for Grade 11 at the International School of Phnom Penh.

What will students remember 10 years from now?

The new TOK guide prescribes a specific Knowledge Framework, a tool for exploring and comparing the different areas in which knowledge is produced — we examined History, Human Sciences, and Natural Sciences. The first goal for the unit is for students to learn how to use it to structure their arguments and to categorize knowledge issues they encounter.

As the central purpose of the course, students also continue to develop their ability to explore questions like “Is it possible to have knowledge of the past?” or “Does competition between scientists help or hinder the production of knowledge?”. And the keyword here is ‘explore’, not answer’ because there are many arguments and perspectives to consider.

Lastly, students should be able to recognize objects in the real world and use them as prompts for conversations about TOK concepts.  Making the connection between object and knowledge issues is another of the enduring understandings we hope students take with them beyond the course.

ISTE Standards

I co-created essential agreements for online learning with the students once the campus was closed and classes went to GoogleMeet. I also had students work with simulations, models, and create an outline for an infographic.

From an educator’s perspective, I knew there would be several learning outcomes that would be better served with the use of specific digital tools. So I wanted to take the opportunity to document their use and share with the department as a way of modeling the selection and adoption of these tools.

The biggest lesson for me, as a designer of learning experiences, is to ‘start small, but start’. Teachers are naturally ambitious. We want to redesign entire courses and change entire systems. Start small, try your hand at a premortem and monitor the impact. If it seems like it’s worth it, look at scaling it up. Simon Breakspear breaks it up in Teaching Sprints.

To model technology integration to colleagues, keep an open door. Invite people to come and observe a lesson. Share resources and their why.


The notion of redefining learning through the SAMR model is probably the biggest take-away for me. As a technophile, integrating technology was always intuitive, as I pointed out in my first blog post at the start of the program. What I began to notice is a more critical eye on my part.

Sometimes, that means removing tech. I think that sends a message that every tech tool needs a purpose, a specific challenge it’s trying to address. It adds value to the tech you do keep, and I hope avoids that idea of creating problems that don’t necessarily exist just to justify the use of a tool.

As a leader, I hope that also sends the message that when a tech tool is being deployed, implemented, or reinforced, that there’s an underlying challenge the school is trying to address. That it isn’t a fad or an initiative, that’s going to go away. In other words, technology isn’t the goal; fixing the problem is, the tech tool is just that, a tool, and perhaps one of the tools, to accomplish that.

I’m committed to improving school systems. COETAIL helped me identify the questions I can ask when (re-)designing learning so that I can continue on that journey. 

One thought on “Final COETAIL reflections

  1. You are certainly shining multiple spotlights on many great ideas not only with tech integration but in new pedagogies and new teaching and learning techniques. This unit not only shares great practice in what good teaching is (collaborative, critical thinking, etc) but also poses great questions about when and why we should use technology. I agree with you it is not one approach that serves us as we implement technology. Instead we need to start with learning and think about how we can change it substantially by adding another tool. As you mention “ technology isn’t the goal.”

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