Our school has not used a lot of assistive technologies. We have few student who have special needs in this area. However, there is also a lack of awareness of what is out there that could assist the students we do have with special needs.
The cool tools that caught my attention was Edline because we are going to begin using that in our Junior High next year. It was good to hear that another school was using it successfully. Our teachers will be glad to hear that it is easy to use. I enjoyed the Google demo. I would assume most people just use Google for searches and images and are unaware of all the extra tool that are available by just clicking the more button.
I liked some of the ideas in the Learning for the 21st Century article. The two things that jumped out at me were "Making content relevant to student lives" and "Problem solving". This view adapts to the Contructivist's point of view. This approach would engage students and get them more involved in their learning.
As far as should this group business be making these recommendations. I can't say I agree with everything in the article, I think there some ideas that we can use. If we are looking at businesses to finance technology, they are difinitely going to want to have input into the educational process. Should they have this input? I don't they should have final say on anything, but we should be able to use their expertise as we see fit.
The digital divide at my school can probably be focused in 2 areas. Funding and Professional Development. We have one Science program that is self supported through private donations and has cutting edge technology. The program offers 2 elective courses and has maybe 75 students in it (900 total students in the high school). The rest of the departments fund technology through their own budgets. They are able to do a few things with technology, but are very limited due to funding.
Professional Development is in place, however due to the lack of funding for many departments the technnology is not there. We can provide training to the teachers, but if they don't have the software and access to it for their students there is not a lot of interest. I guess Access would be a third area. We have 2 mobile carts and a lab in the library that are almost constantly booked.
Tying the technology into the currriculum seemed to be the main focus. I like the idea of students being "engaged" and having fun with the curriculum. I'm not sure I agree with the idea of using technology that is in the "real world" is critical. They don't use textbooks in the real world. If the technology enhances what you are doing in the classroom and will improve student learning, then we should explore using it. It doesn't have to be a Microsoft product. Teachers also have to be comfortable using the software.
I liked the Replacement, Amplification and Transformation idea. The goal is to get to the Transformation stage. To get there we need to (in my school) provide the training and make the technology available to the staff.
To me, technology integration is using technology to enhance your curriculum. It ties right into your classroom goals and the students use it as a tool. It is as much a part of your classroom as is a textbook or calculator. It is not something you do as an aside to what you are currently doing as a "break" or "something different" for the students.
My experience has been that most teachers want technology training to focus on their subject matter. They want to take something out of the training that they can implement in their classroom that fits with their curriculum. Often we provide some basic training, but don't allow teachers the time to use the hardware or software. If we want teachers to use technology effectively, we need to tailor our training to fit their needs. The training also needs to be constantly updated so we can continually meet the needs of the teachers. We need to keep the training relevant to what is going on in the classroom.
Great article for teachers and technology oordinators to read. Sometimes we get caught up with technology itself, we don't look at the curriculum integration aspect. We are highly motivated at the beginning of a project, but soon lose that as problems pop up. Better communication between teacher, administration and technology coordinator can help alleviate some of these issues.
Great examples of how to use technology in the classroom. Many teachers who are comfortable using technology, must now take the next step and integrate technology into their curriculum. The challenge is to integrate technology in a meaningful way. The other challenge is to provide the time, training, and hardware/software for teachers to sharpen their technology skills.
Technology, if used correctly, is an essential tool in education today. The article points out that for our students to have the skills necessary for the 21st century they need to have access to the technology. I believe that there are still people in eduation who view technology as fluff, nice to have but not necessary. This article should be required reading for school administrators and board members.
The nine-step program looks like a very an excellent program for teachers. One of the biggest obstacles to technology integration is a good training program. Time and money available for training dictate how in depth the training can be. By allowing teachers a full week for training, the results can be very good. I liked the ideas of train-the-trainer and posting lesson plans on the web site.