July 15, 2005
I like the 10 year vision exercise. It helped me to take the problems I experience today and imagine the solutions. Thanks.
A memorable vision representation is a fine idea. With the right input and creative juice, the staff might get more fired up--which is infectious with the students and building.
This sniffs a bit of marketing and perhaps even "branding" as I imagine a visual representation becoming a ubiquitous element of all technology interfaces. Perhaps the logo will become the background on the screen when all students log-on, or the default wallpaper, or even the only PPt background teachers can use in their presentations. Hmmmm.....
Integr: Assistive technology
One of the most important messages is to start low tech. It's easy for parents and teachers to get caught in the gee whiz mode. A focus on the central educational purpose is paramount. This is where commitment to that purpose needs to be explicit and agreed upon before a meeting begins (good meeting operations).
July 14, 2005
Planning: My district's plan
My district's tech plan includes an implementation plan href="http://www.rochester.k12.mn.us/school85/genie193/images/files/b2072_file5_1558.pdf" that very much includes the elements of AN EDUCATOR'S GUIDE TO EVALUATING THE USE OF TECHNOLOGY IN SCHOOLS AND CLASSROOMS. I believe the Guide's elements of indicators and benchmarks are what my district calls processes. We also include measures. My district's plan is specific enough at the broad district level to provide direction and includes the leadership responsible, the budget necessary, and how human resources are impacted. I give it a rating of 4.
Integr: Role of the 21st C document
Yes, its vague and platitudinal (is that a word?), but I still like it. Here's why.
It's the only document I've seen to clearly emphasize the educational goals I hold most dear. They came under the heading of the "21st C Content" and included the values of global education and citizenship development. Finally a document that acknowledges the most important purpose of education.
You know, if a corporation is frustrated that it needs to teach its employees specific tech skills and would rather have the schools do it, that to me is not a big deal. The corporate world will pick up that ball if they need to. But will they teach people the value of democratic participation??? I don't think so. That's not to say we should leave tech skills ed to the corporate world. But when it comes to creating well-educated participants to our democratic society, no place will take on that responsiblity other than the schools--especially the public schools. This should be our central charge!!
So I thank this document for that acknowledgment. Hallelujah!!
Integr: Addressing the digital divide
The root of many understandings concerning education and the disparity of performance and opportunity are correctly identified by Tapscott as household economics. So in essence the question becomes, how can a schooling institution help to equalize the negative effects of the disparity in economic opportunity? I see this divide very accutely in my school where a relatively large percentage of the students are offspring of Mayo Clinic Doctors and other professionals--very priviledged; and another large percentage are 1st generation immigrants (refugees).
So what can we do?
On the micro level:
We need to open the technology we have to the underserved so they can more easily access the tech. This includes staffing labs during non-school hours, providing transportation options, creating open time in the school day (our longer lunch period is helping), and creating a teaching/learning culture that simply expects all students to access and use the technology we can make available. We need to ask the underserved students how we can serve them better.
On the macro level:
Our community culture is dominated by the priviledged class. We, the school professionals, need to lead (by our example and rhetoric) the dominant culture to live the values on inclusion and equality; to encourage the culture to take on the responsiblity of providing quality opportunities and education for underprivileged; to rail against the easy belief that the underpriviledged are such because of some personal flaw (laziness, criminality, the 'wrong' values)and to instead speak of the effects of the larger context and how it shapes individual behaviors (and therefore economic and educational status). The way a culture 'thinks' about the underpriviledged will have an enormous impact on how the underpriviledged will be treated by the dominant culture.
July 13, 2005
Tech Plannning: reflections on the plans I've quickly seen
I viewed the St. Cloud plan. I liked it, for the most part. I was most impressed with the districts vision statements.
The vision statement for the tech plan was predictable.
The goals of the plan were clear and deliniated (sp?). Lacking was a specific action plan to realize the goals--perhaps it occured later in the 129 page tome.
My thought on tech plans in general is that I'd like to see them at a building or department level, but I wouldn't want them to be so long. They need to actually enlighten and empower individual teachers, not scare them.
I'm also concerned about the connection between quality technology use and the lesson plans they support. The unit and lesson planning should drive technology use. Teachers need to start there. I may blog later about this.
Thinking about the meetings needed to create tech plans
This will be the work of a committee, which means there will be meetings. I have feelings about meetings.
My wife and I took a class from this esteem university several years ago call "Effective Meetings" or something like that. It was one of the most powerful classes I've ever taken. The skills taught were immediately usable and incredibly powerful. My wife, in her work, has employed the skills far more extensively than I have needed to, and she is widely recognized in her work place as an expert meeting facilitator. I can easily recognize poorly run meetings, and can run a pretty good one when I need to.
As a practical matter, the leader of a tech planning group needs to have skills in this area as well. I hope the course is still offered and should be recommended for people doing tech planning.
How to assess the tech plan goals
The Rochester School district tech plan has an implementation plan with very assessable actions, who's responsible, and a time target, along with other elements. I like this.
July 12, 2005
Role of federal and state tech plans
Hmmm... This may not take long. As far as how these plans impact the classroom teacher, they serve very little purpose. One could argue that they should guide tech planning at the local and building level through the connection to grant funds, but we all know that playing the grant -fund-semantic game can be done quite easily. So is there a role?
Perhaps. Since implementation of technology to impact student learning actually exists in the classroom, then teachers should become aware of how planning their use of technology can actually be done to meet specific educational goals.
For example, in my geography class, I have to teach to specific state benchmark statements. I can't quote one right now, but a general idea would be to ensure that students can understand how economic locational decisions are made. (What are the factors that a company considers when deciding where to locate its activity?.)
I can teach this concept through the introduction and explanation of theoretical models, give examples, and do worksheet models of the decision making. There also exist GIS simulations that can do essentially the same thing in a more engaging way that encourages the students to problem solve and create original answers.
A tech plan at the classroom level would show how technology will be implemented to meet this standard and push the students to a higher level of thinking.
The national and state plans could model and exemplify how technology could be implemented in such a way. Instead they are meaningless, broad, politically driven platitudes without purpose and devoid of educationally researched rigor.