July 11, 2006

Class 7/10/06

Good discussions to day and rummaries of state and national tech plans. I was involved in the group that looked at how the state plans addressed students. We found: 1. emphasis on how technology can improve test scores; 2. students become active social leaners because of technology; 3. shift of emphasis from teacher to student learning to more of a student focus; 4. no detail describing the learning process.

Also in group that looked at 2004 National Tech Plan Goals listed:
1. Strengthen Leadership
2. Consider Innovative Budgeting
3. Improve Teacher Training
4. Support e-learning
5. Encourage broadband access
6. Move toward digital content
7. Integrate data systems

July 10, 2006

Class 7/9/06

Something that really strikes me about lots of these classes, but relevant to this class in particular is the amount of funding planned for tech. training. We currently spend very little on training. In fact most of the training that does occur is done by me-so perhaps my salary is the expenditure-just kidding.

July 6, 2006

Special topics

This article didn’t have many concrete ideas. Schools and education in general need community involvement to be successful. Yup.

Gee, I hope no one at ISTE broke their collarbone patting themselves on the back while writing this article and contemplating their monumental contribution to American education. OK, OK, I admit I’m getting cranky sitting inside on a nice Maine summer day reading the 14th article on school technology planning (not to mention reading and blogging for EDPA5305, EDPA 5309, CI 5344 and writing a paper for EDPA 5308). Honestly having standards to guide my work in education is extremely helpful. It allows me to have some sort of guideline and point of departure that I can measure what we are doing. I think a strong point about standards such as these is made when they states they should be “a place to begin not an end?.

Tech Planning Process

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, our school went without a technology coordinator/integrator/director for five years. We essentially just outsourced our network administration and hardware and software upkeep, threw money at the problem and then sat back and congratulated ourselves for “investing? in technology. That is until I decided I was tired of the situation and said I’d be willing to do whatever was necessary to help us utilize and maintain the technology available to us to its fullest. Famous last words! I spent my first year on the job (2005-2006) just repairing, assessing and encouraging teachers to ask for help and try things. Essentially our school had created a situation where faculty and students felt let down by technology and as a result were only using what was available sporadically and ineffectively.
Phase II: Equipment Acquisition and Learning described in the Porter article describes us to a tee. We are just moving beyond the infrastructure improvement aspects into integration, but the reality is that no one has actually been in charge of implementation/integration. There has been no real change to the curriculum simply “small adjustments and adaptations?. Learning goals have been broad and not assessable. We have been left with pointing out anecdotal successes in individual teacher’s lessons rather than having truly broad implementation of technology throughout the curriculum. Moreover technology training for faculty has been piecemeal with no true training plan in place.

I’m always torn between feeling depressed, overwhelmed and hopeful when I read articles like these. Depressed because so much time has been wasted for our school; overwhelmed because there is so much to do and learn; and hopeful because every article I read gives me a new model or idea to work with. The Planner’s Handbook in particular gave me some great ideas and concrete forms, checklists surveys etc. to use as I try to find a way to make all of this work manageable. The Eric Digest Ten essential Elements article really pointed out what we have accomplished and where we need to go. We have done OK with gathering Data, involving all stakeholders, ensuring a sound infrastructure and allocating appropriate funding-basically all of the elements that didn’t require any sort of leadership or vision but have really failed at the aspects that required consistent long term effort and planning.

State Tech Plans/Planning

The focus of Zhao (again like my last entry I’ve included this for my own use): First, in terms of technology, we found that state technology plans seem to favor "new" technologies over "old" technologies. Furthermore, the portrayal of the inevitability of change as a result of technology adoption was a pervasive theme through the technology plans. Second, in terms of students, we found that the plans more often than not focused on technology’s capacity to improve student test scores, paying little attention to important epistemological assumptions about student learning. Third, in terms of teachers, our reading of the technology plans suggests that the plans do acknowledge that teachers are important in technology adoption but do not go as far to as to identify ways in which teachers can be resourceful, knowledgeable, and purposeful designers of educational technology. Fourth, in terms of educational goals, the plans privilege the goal of economic progress or social efficiency over democratic equality.

I really thought Zhao summarized what my reaction to many of the governmental technology plans has been. The plans include too much “sloganizing? and are too focused on a sales pitch; seem to indicate that the mere existence of technology in schools will automatically mean that it is being used effectively; and none seem to truly recognize the past failures or intricacies of individual school hardware and software. He also strongly emphasizes that the plans put forth the notion of an equalization of economic factors, but only in terms of quantity and availability, not in any real way addressing the plethora of impediments to educating in socio-economically underprivileged communities. Moreover there is a basic failure to look at past failures and impediments to future successes.

The basic bean counting strategies of many in the educational hierarchy which is clearly reflected in the Minnesota Planning guide, and Maine’s equivalent documents really frustrate me. This sort of student/computers ratio mentality is something that the library community went through for a long time and seems to only now be moving beyond; measuring numbers of books and circulation statistics and not actual results of the library media center research process. As our President says “is our children learning??

National Tech Plans

National Tech Plans
I was simultaneously pleasantly surprised and dismayed that the 1996 document did not seem terribly out of date for me, much of what they recommend has actually become reality: more training, more up-to-date computers accessible to students, access to library databases etc. However despite the progress that has been made you could go to almost any category listed in this document and still make the same basic recommendations for many schools (mine included) across the country. We have come a long way, but technology is expanding at such a rapid rate that it is difficult to keep up. While there are more opportunities (and expectations) for teacher technology training there is just so much to know. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t find some new widget or website that I think will be useful to the members of my school. I found the list of questions to be asked while planning for technology to be particularly relevant. The same basic questions should be posed by all of us today. Increasingly I am seeing my job as director of technology, library and media resources to be a clearinghouse for all things technology related. I am constantly looking for opportunities to share with students and staff new software while increasing their knowledge of what they already utilize (often poorly).

I’m including the goals in my blog for my own future reference:
­ All teachers in the nation will have the training and support they need to help students learn using computers and the information superhighway.
­ All teachers and students will have access to modern multimedia computers in their classrooms.
­ Every classroom will be connected to the information superhighway.
­ Effective software and online learning resources will be an integral part of every school’s curriculum.

The second document e-Learning: Putting a world class education at the fingertips of all children started to go beyond the simple inventory mentality of having more technology available and develops some more specific ideas about how school’s could utilize technology effectively. It is partially self-congratulatory, pointing out the strides that had been made in the 4 years since the first document. The goals stated in this document:
­ All students and teachers will have access to information technology in their
­ classrooms, schools, communities and homes.
­ All teachers will use technology effectively to help students achieve high
­ academic standards.
­ All students will have technology and information literacy skills.
­ Research and evaluation will improve the next generation of technology
­ applications for teaching and learning.
­ Digital content and networked applications will transform teaching and
­ learning.

Not surprisingly, given the change of administrations, the most recent document is more critical of the advances made during the previous eight years. They even manage to reference specifically the Reagan administration twice (1983’s A Nation at Risk, and Reagan’s famous “tear down this wall? quote). 2004’s Toward a New Golden age in American education: How the Internet, the Law and today’s Students are Revolutionizing Expectations really hits the nail on the head when it states “Over the past 10 years, 99 percent of our schools have been
connected to the Internet with a 5:1 student to computer ratio.5 Yet, we have not realized the promise of technology in education. Essentially, providing the hardware without adequate training in its use.? I couldn’t agree more and this is exactly why I am in this program; to make good use of the technology resources that my school has available to it. It seems so much of the time and money, for my school anyway, has been spent on hardware and software without any true linkage to the curriculum. While tens of thousands of dollars have been spent the school went five years without any technology coordinator/integrator. I honestly spent my first year on the job methodically repairing and enhancing the infrastructure that we had, while trying to implement some new programs that were not only long overdue, but will help me leverage new technologies this coming school year. The school’s purchasing program had effectively overlooked upgrades to teacher’s personal classroom computers in favor of student computer labs and the library which resulted in many frustrated teachers that neglected technology altogether because what they had available to them was inferior. I’m really excited about my second year on the job and all of the possibilities and tools this program is presenting to me.

July 4, 2006

Thoughts on Campus Week

I'm really excited about campus week. I live just north of Bangor, Maine and having grownup outside of Boston I look forward to being in a city again, I also used to work at the University of Maine so I look forward to being on a Univeristy Campus. Additionally classes and conferences like this one are the only time I really get to talk to people doing the kind of work that I do. I am the only technology person in my school and I too often feel as if I am recreating the wheel. I always come away from interactions with techies (or librarians, my other hat) having picked up something that I can bring back to my school.

We are going through the reacredditation process this year so I will be looking closely at our technology plan, which I'm afraid is in need of updating. I'd like to learn what we did wrong last time around. In the tech Integration course I would like to be able to learn a bit about how to get teachers who are reluctant, or downright stubborn to start integrating technology into their classes. The teachers who are already using technology are easy to help.

I've added the basic intro that I've been using for all of my classes so you can know a little more about me and my situation.
My name is Kevin champney and I live in Milford, Maine (about 25 minutes north of Bangor) and work as the Director of Technology, Library and Media Resources at John Bapst Memorial High School, an Independent School in Bangor. This is my first year as Tech. Coordinator. I was previously the head Librarian for 4 years and now wear both Tech. and Library hats. I'm taking classes in the CASTLE program so that I don't feel as if I am (re)creating the wheel every time I do something new at school.

I hold a BA in English from UMass, a Master's in library and Information Science from the Univeristy of South Carolina and have finished all of my coursework towards an MA in History from UMaine.

In the past I have worked as a technical wirter in Massachusetts, and an audio preservationist/archives assistant at the Maine Folklife Center. I've also done considerble research on the CCC in Acadia National Park as part of a National Park Service grant as well as Maine and the Maritimes folklore, folksong and assorted oral history projects.

In my spare time (hahaha) I garden, go to concerts, play guitar, follow all things New England sports related-right now the Red Sox-and hike and play with my Springer Spaniel Jack.

I'm currently 3 credits into the STLI graduate certificate program in School Tech. Leadership (9 credits by the end of the summer).