July 15, 2005
Teaching vs. Using Technology
Reading the vision statements today, some seemed to be focused on teaching technology, while other focused more on utilizing technology to teach the core curriculum. So is technology just a means to an end, or is it an end in itself.
What I'd like spelled out more clearly is whether the focus is on....
a) Teachers using technology to teach with (powerpoint, internet)
b) Students using technology when doing assignments (Word processing, Internet etc.)
c) Students learning specific (fairly complex) software applications and/or programming languages. (Dreamweaver, Flash, Photoship, Visual Basic, C++)
I suppose for most school all 3 of these would be important, but it's not easy to tell from their vision statements.
I guess we learned today that the vision is different than the goals. I agree the vision needs to be broad enough to encompass everything and be future focused. But there should be some pretty specific goals to go with it.
Can we all just get along...
What I see, as I step back and try to look at the big picture, is 4 different groups or entities, with totally different perspectives on technology.
1. First you have Fed & State government that looks at the big picture. They aren't concerned too much about the nitty gritty, the specifics as far as what's being taught etc. They just want to make sure that it's done in a fair and equitable manner. They also want to make sure there are some controls in place to avoid lawsuits etc. (i.e. internet use)
2. Then there's the teachers, which I'd say fall into 2 groups: those that espouse technology and those that don't. Group 1, the techies, are excited about all the potential that comes with technology. They want the school to invest as much as possible in technology, but for that to happen they have to sell the other group on using it.
Group 2, on the other hand, has been teaching a number of years without technology and doesn't see the need to change. It would mean altering all their lesson plans, perhaps cramp their teaching style, so why invest their time if everything works fine right now.
3. Students would be the third group, as I see it. And while the schools are trying to decide how to teach technology, or integrate technology into the teaching environment, these guys are learning a lot of it without the school's help. These students are spending a lot more time surfing the net, sending email, talking in chat rooms, blogging etc... just on their own initiative as a way to meet new friends and stay in touch with current ones.
4. Finally, I would say businesses make up the 4th group. They're leading the way, inventing tools, and developing software to meet their own needs.
So what's my point???
I guess the only reason I bring this up, is I'm having trouble seeing where schools fit in to this big picture. I'd also like to see the 4 groups fitting together better. Right now I don't feel like that's happening.
July 14, 2005
School Tech Plan Rating
At this point I don't have a tech plan to rank... so I guess that would be a "0".
The exercise on goal setting was good since it helped put the 4 parts (Goals, indicators, benchmark, & measures) into perspective. For example, the goal, needs to be very general, very broad. I assumed it was more specific.
My Ultimate Question
What it all boils down to for me, as a teacher, is "What are we actually trying to teach the students?"
I'm learning a lot about how the Federal and State Gov'ts fit into the picture, and the role of the tech committees etc. Prior to starting this class, my perspective was much narrower.
I'm glad to be getting a look at the bigger picture, however, what I'd still really like to know by the end of this class is what various schools are actually wanting students to know about technology when they graduate.
Perhaps this is too specific to be covered in this class. I know Friday we're talking about creating the vision statement. Hopefully I'll be able to hear specific objectives different schools currently have as far as technology.
July 13, 2005
The steps we've discussed so far on tech planning make pretty logical sense. I agree with the need to select a good variety of people so as to hear all the different perspectives.
I'm still a little foggy on needs assessment and how that would be done exactly.
You certainly need to set the vision right up front, so you can start setting goals and deadlines etc. after that.
PS. I would have liked to talk more about the actual vision, instead of waiting til Friday. That's probably the first question in my mind (what's the vision). Hopefully by Friday I'll have a pretty clear picture of the ideal vision. I'd like to have a good picture of what schools should be doing if funding etc. wasn't a problem.
July 12, 2005
Federal & State Tech plans
My first impression when reading these ed tech plans is they're fairly general, idealistic, and unrealistic.
I read a lot of big words that sound politically correct or perhaps educationally correct. For example, "ensuring" all students learn.... or "effective" learning... or "proper dissemination" of knowledge & information etc....
They also sound idealistic, wanting to stay on the cutting edge, but perhaps not so specific about what students are going to be learning from it.
In many cases they would simply keep referring to the various federal documents, policies etc. as being the guideline for the plan.
July 10, 2005
2004-07 Technology Plan (Mn. Dept. of Educ.)
I think the key here is getting the vision. We all agree we need one, but what is it? Beyond basic typing, word processing, and spreadsheets, what do students need to know. Searching the internet is useful, but that doesn't take long to show students how to do it. Same with email etc... There's powerpoint, but how hard it that to learn?
Perhaps computer programming should become part of the required curriculum. Web design would be good as well.
We all agree technology is great and needs to become an integral part of school curriculum, but I'm having trouble seeing a clear vision of how it's supposed to fit in.
"... with sufficent access and support, teachers will be better able to ...."
Let me start by saying that besides access and support, teachers need more incentive. Especially older teachers who have been doing it the same way for numerous years. Why change now?
There's a lot of good technology out there, but to really make it work effectively we need to sell the teachers on it. You also have to spend a lot. The problem is that teachers aren't impressed with what they've seen so far. All it takes is one time when the teacher makes plans to have their students work in the lab on a research project, and they find out the server is down. With technology, teachers always need to have a "plan B". That makes for a lot of extra work that teachers don't have time for.
For teachers to be willing to integrate technology into their curriculum, they need to be very comfortable with it. In most cases I've seen, the school doesn't have time or resources allocated to really train teachers. There may be a one day workshop during the fall inservice days, but not enough to get teachers confident about using it regularly. There also needs to be curriculum ideas they can easily access, because teachers don't have the time to develop new lessons.
The 5 goals they discuss sound nice, but making them happen is going to take a lot of time and money.
July 6, 2005
What's In, What's Out
I agree that with schools and technology, things are sort of backwards. Technology is controlling school decisions instead of vice-versa.
Schools all want to be state-of-the-art or at least as current as other districts. The problem is they're in such a hurry to upgrade to better computers, they don't think about training the staff to really utilize it.
What I usually see happen is the teachers take their students to the computer lab to work on research papers. What happens is the students spend a good percentage of that time in the lab just emailing their friends or searching for things they're interested in, not the topic they're researching.
I also agreed with their point that there's too much focus on state testing (i.e. BST etc.)
Edutopia - Schools Need Partners
This article made several good points about collaboration. I strongly agree with the need for parental involvement, and would say that is the most important of the three types they mention. Working with other schools and businesses would be great, too, but for students to really get the most out of it, there has to be the support at home.