Whoa now... you want to do what?
Today Jason Davis came in to our class to give us his perspective on technology from his experience as an ITSS manager of technology and classroom service. Jason has been working with the new building construction and design of technology in the school of business building. The project is quite large and I was instantly curious as to how Jason knew what to put in the building. The technology plan was initially made by a consultant, but because of high financial costs Jason’s department was asked to look into it and perform the integration. Jason saw a few problems with the $600,000 plan and started to seek out professional advice from different sources.
The major thing I took from Jason’s talk with us was his style of problem solving. His role at ITSS doesn’t mean that he is a specialist on every problem that arises. Instead his strengths come from identifying problems, communicating with stake holders, gathering professional advice from various sources, and implementing the plan that is decided to be the best. The inclusion of stake holders allows people with multiple perspectives to give their input on the specific idea. This means that tech people, administrators, students, and faculty can all have a say in the decision making process. The combination of all these people gives a chance for differing perspectives to challenge each other and critically think about them. It gives the opportunity for everyone involved to learn from each other and make better decisions.
Jason demonstrated the same point that Friedman made in his book, which is the importance of learning how to learn. In his job Jason looks at many different types of technology and tries to make the decision if it enhances curriculum goals while not taking the focus off the important content. He talked a little about classroom clickers as an example. Classroom clickers are a fantastic way to provide interactivity for a large class or lecture hall. It would be nearly impossible to listen to every student explain their view or solution to a problem. The response clicker enables students to engage in the lesson, and allows the teacher to see how each student is doing, or the class as a whole. Jason was also quick to express that clickers shouldn’t have a place in small class sizes like ours. There is no need for students to click in answers when every one can be allowed face to face interaction. This is critical thinking of technology we have been talking about in this class.
This makes me question how we make all our decisions as educators. I have witnessed others in the past, and possibly been a person myself that makes decisions based on what is best for themselves. I do keep in mind how things affect other people involved, but I can’t say I ask them often enough what their stance is. It is too easy to make a decision based on what you think that people will need or want, even though the truth may be that they have a completely different perspective. I think impulse decisions like this are ok for small decisions, but larger decisions that start to impact finances and multiple people need to be handled as professionally as possible.
My recommendations based on the information that he presented are a mix of content first and collaborate meetings. One thing that may be for certain is that not everyone will have the same opinion about what technology is beneficial for learning. This is why it is important the content is first and critical thinking is used to ensure that. An ideal process for a school or district would be to follow a model that includes stake holders into these important decisions. This way more than one person can do their homework and bring information forward that either supports or contradicts the proposal. I would want my children’s school to make decisions based on conclusions of the entire picture. To make the best decision possible it is necessary to take into account all of the good, bad, and logistical aspects. The large decisions made need to be in the best interest of all the stake holders because schools have limited funds and directly affect our youth.
Seeing the big picture isn't always easy. A person always has their own perspective on a situation. This means that the big picture could be really a combination of little pictures, like a collage. It is important to see how each individual, or groups of individuals perceives the proposal. If most of the stake holders aren't happy with the plan then their voice should be heard. Learning from others is an important learning method in classrooms and also in decision making. Then combining what you have learned from everyone gives a better understanding to make a decision with. This will help prevent proposals from being passed just because they look or sound cool, and develop a better understanding why it makes or damages our learning environments. It is also impossible to make everyone involved or affected happy, so it is most important to make sure it is beneficial to most everyone involved.