The multitude of technology tools available to LSA faculty can be confusing to navigate. Deciding to add that technology to new or existing courses can be challenging, especially if the technology offers new methods of teaching that don’t reflect the ways we were taught. This can lead to technologies being added and used in courses mainly as a way of replicating already existing forms of teaching, albeit in a more efficient or accessible manner. One way of discovering new teaching methods and learning outcomes from technology is to analyze them using the PICRAT model. The PICRAT model was developed at Brigham Young University in 2020 as a way of simplifying other technology analytic models. It is intended as a tool of reflection, not prescription, on how we integrate technology in our classrooms.
PICRAT is represented as a three-by-three matrix, with ‘PIC’ on one axis and ‘RAT’ on the other. First, let’s look at the RAT axis. RAT analyzes the effects that technology has on the practice of teaching. R represents Replication. Replication in this context would mean that the technology only alters the appearance of the teaching practice– it doesn’t affect teaching or learning in a meaningful way. For example, technology falling under this category may improve access to teaching materials, such as PDF versions of readings or adding captions to videos. The A represents Amplifying. These are uses of technology that increase the effectiveness of teaching or add new functionality to existing teaching methods. An example of this sort of technology would include audience response technologies like iClicker. The T represents Transforming. This includes using technology in a way which introduces new methods of teaching that otherwise would not be possible without it. So, if the technology were to not exist, the teaching methods it allows would also not exist.
Next, let’s look at the PIC axis of the PICRAT matrix. PIC analyzes the types of student activities that are made possible by technology. The P represents Passive. In these cases, the technology adds activities that the students observe without active participation. The I represents Interactive. These cases would provide students with activities that they interact with in some way, as active learners. Primarily, Canvas quizzes, discussion forums, and tools like Playposit would fall under this category. C represents Creative. Creative technology in this context has students create new materials themselves.
An important note about this matrix is that no one square is necessarily better than another; they only represent different effects and levels of engagement. The Creative and Transform levels on the matrix are similar to the higher order thinking in Bloom’s Taxonomy. Not every activity or outcome needs to achieve the highest order, but it is still beneficial for student learning to strive to achieve that in each course. For example, a video lecture may fall under the Passive Amplification category, but it is still a quality use of technology. However, utilizing a tool like PlayPosit could move that lecture to a more interactive place on the matrix. Using the students’ results of PlayPosit bulbs to lead discussions or find pain points would place it in a more Transformative role. Likewise, attempting to add a Transforming Creative technology, such as video essays or a tool like StoryMaps, to a course may not be a good idea if there is no scaffolding or a strong learning objective linked to that technology. The PICRAT matrix is useful in determining how a particular use of technology affects student learning and overall learning objectives for the course. The matrix can also reveal additional methods or activities that can increase the interactivity or creativity of activities. To use the PICRAT model, try mapping out the use of all technologies utilized in a course to determine if any may have higher-level learning opportunities to engage students in more active learning.
If you are considering adding a new technology to your course, or would like to examine ways to add more interactivity or creativity to the current technology in your course, we encourage you to reach out to us and request a consultation.
Kimmons, R., Graham, C. R., & West, R. E. (2020). The PICRAT model for technology integration in teacher preparation. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 20(1). https://citejournal.org/volume-20/issue-1-20/general/the-picrat-model-for-technology-integration-in-teacher-preparation