UbD and Technology

Posted by on Feb 26, 2010

Notes from the session “Understanding by Design and Technology Integration” by Mark Fijor. Presented at the ICE 2010 conference on Friday, February 26.

Wiki link: http://sd25tech.pbworks.com/Understanding-by-Design-and-Tech

Start off with an essential question.  Something that is debatable.

For example, “Can technology really enhance and support standards-based curriculum or is it just a passing fad?”

Determine whether or not technology can enhance and support a standards based curriculum.
Collaborate and identify research tools to complete project.
Determine end product to demonstrate learning.

Use blogs or wikis or online discussion boards to demonstrate learning and wrestle with essential questions.

Fijor’s district uses the Big 6 research method. http://www.big6.com/

Establish the question, identify key search terms, use a resource like Google Scholar to conduct research, and then select end project to demonstrate transfer.

Used Turning Point Anywhere to decide as a group which project format we would use.  Options were Power Point, iMovie, podcast, Prezi, web page.

After the project is complete, students go back and evaluate the presentation against the question and determine if they have to go back and revise their project to answer the essential question entirely.

*My reflection*  It’s obvious that technology can play a big role in the implementation of Understanding by Design.  The most difficult part that I’m not sure we addressed in this session is the process of transfer.  Creating a PPT, iMovie, podcast, Prezi, or web page are not necessarily the best opportunities to create transfer.  Transfer is supposed to happen when you take a skill you are learning and demonstrate the ability to use and apply the skill in an unfamiliar situation.  I believe the beginning of the presentation was strong as we discussed essential questions and research, but the most crucial part of the process, transfer, was lacking a bit.


  1. Wesley Fryer
    February 26, 2010

    Great notes, Ben, thanks for sharing. I have had the UBD book for at least six months now and need to get it off the shelf…

    Can you explain what was meant by “Used Turning Point Anywhere…” more? I am not familiar with that.

  2. Ben Grey
    February 26, 2010

    Wes- You absolutely must get UbD out and start reading it. It’s something you’ll wrestle with for some time, but it’s a great framework for designing learning experiences. It’s also a powerful way to create professional development experiences for teachers. I’d love to talk about it once you start reading it.

    TurningPoint Anywhere is a student response system. Mark uses the software along with their basic clicker units for student responses. Here’s a link to the product we were using today. http://www.turningtechnologies.com/studentresponsesystem/studentresponsesolutions/turningpointanywhere/

  3. Michael Wacker
    March 3, 2010

    “The Transfer” is all so often poorly designed. I know I was guilty of it when I first started teaching students and again when working with adults I found myself thinking that the product was the transfer. It was recently when evaluating various teaching strategies that I realized how “off” I was. I know that now in the online PD courses and learning opportunities we are offering, the transfer will come in the extension of the learning to teaching it to other teachers.


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