August 15, 2006

Reflections: School Technology Planning (Campus Week)

It’s interesting to look back on this class, after having taken the class, and completing my blogs on the reading assignments. Since blogging was such an integral part of the week, I though it was fitting to wrap up the class with a blog (plus, the semi-formality of a blog makes for easier writing, and, in my opinion, easier reading).

On the first day of the class, I thought I knew a lot about School Technology Planning, because a committee that I had worked on had just completed the revision of our School Technology Plan. The initial survey of students’ knowledge of School Tech Plans seemed to confirm my initial assessment of my skills in this area.

However, I quickly realized that if given the task to coordinate the School Technology Plan, I would be seriously lacking. That seems to be the way it is in life, though: You think you know all you need to know about a topic until you learn a little something about the topic, and realize just how ignorant you really are.

Now, although I no longer feel as if I have all of the answers, I do feel that I have the right questions, and in situations where I might not have the right questions, I feel as if I know where to go to find those questions. In the remainder of this entry, I will highlight some of the steps I would take if given the task of coordinating the development (or redevelopment) of a District (or school) Technology Plan.

Step 1: Current State of Technology - Description: In this step, I would be identifying where the entity (either a district or a school) is at in regards to technology. I would ask questions such as:
*Is there a technology vision and policy? (Does this vision/policy correspond to the district’s mission statement?)
*Is there an active technology plan? (How accurately does the plan reflect the current technology status in the entity?)
*What is the inventory of technology in the district? (How dated is the equipment?)
*To what extent are teachers integrating technology into their curriculum?
*What is the general consensus of technology in the entity by the stakeholders?
*What has been the history of technology in the district? (Including purchases, use, etc.)
*What is the organizational structure of the entity?
*What budgetary constraints are there?

In order to collect this information, I would form a technology committee (if one did not already exist). This initial committee would consist of representatives from key stakeholders. This committee would be small in number, and be the core of the larger committee that would be formed at a later time. As this information is collected, I would write up a summary of the current state of technology in the district, and present it to my (core) technology committee, and would revise as appropriate.

Once we are satisfied with the description, I would present this information to the board in order to obtain their reflections on the current status of technology in the district. (I would imagine that there would situations that could arise when what’s happening in with technology in the district is not what the board thought was happening.) I would then revise (or add to) the description as needed.

Step 2: The evaluation: At this point, I would assemble a larger committee that includes representative(s) from all stakeholders available to me. I would have brainstorming sessions, data collecting and fact-finding sessions, in order to obtain as many perceptions of technology needs in the district as possible. I would visit all schools involved (as I would have in the description phase as well), to inquire of each school’s technology needs. The purpose of this would be to obtain (as accurately as possible) a list of all stakeholders and their potential concerns in relation to technology in the district.

Using this information, I would create a list of questions my evaluation would entail (the biggest question would be ‘what goals should be in my plan’, however, I would want to identify several sub-questions to address in this evaluation/needs assessment). I would structure the data collection to be such that it could be easily repeated for subsequent updates of the Tech Plan.

Step 3: Plan Draft: After the questions are created and (hopefully) answered, I would start on the draft. I would use the ‘core’ committee to work on individual parts of the plan (or at least to outline key components of sections of the plan). I would then write the plan (or be in charge of editing), and bring various drafts to the core committee. Once the core committee agrees on a semi-final draft, I would bring this draft to the larger committee for review and feedback. Upon revision from this process, I would bring the draft to the board for approval.

Of course, this is only a highlight of large steps of the plan development process. However this would provide a rough outline for steps to complete the process.

Reactions to: Getting Our NETSWorth (Roblyer)

The article provided an overview and history of standards (in general), ISTE, and the development of NETS. These components along with the “NETS at a Glance? are a nice introduction for me, as I begin to take a closer look at NETS-T (Assessment – Resources for Assessment), NETS-S (Connecting Curriculum and Technology), and NETS-T (Preparing Teachers to Use Technology), which I had purchased for this class, but have heretofore only been able to browse.

Reactions to: For the Best Results, Schools Need Partners (GLEF Staff)

Not only will partnerships provide the benefits discussed in the article, but they have the potential of bridging learning and real world activities in a way not possible without those partnerships.

In this article the idea of Community Schools were discussed. Last year, the Stillwater School District began to look into the idea of a year-round school calendar. Initially, this idea was largely rejected by the community, however, it was noted from the results of the survey that they community felt uneducated about the topic. It is my guess that Stillwater will continue to look into this option. After reading some of the benefits mentioned in this article, I hope they do!

Reactions to: Getting the Most From Technology in Schools (White)

This was a good article. I had made some notes to myself as I was reading this article, and I will expand on these notes here.

Section 1: “Matching Technology with Goals?: It was good to read the summary of research stating that learning from technology (as opposed to learning with technology) was found to be beneficial when learning basic skills. As technology integrationists, we need to recognize the proper place for this type of learning (instead of just “throwing out the baby with the bath water?). If a teacher’s goals are to learn basic skills, learning from technology may be more beneficial than trying to design an activity to learn with technology.

Section 2: “Including Technology as 1 piece of the puzzle?: I highlighted two passages.

“In such classrooms, teachers used computers only when they were the most appropriate tool for completing the assignment, not simply because they were available.? As I have stated in previous articles, it is sometimes observed in my setting that teachers will use technology in their teaching because it is expected, not because it is the most appropriate.

“...teachers who took into account individual differences in interest and ability tended to maintain student engagement.? This makes since with what we know about constructivist learning (in addition to common sense). It is good to think, however, that with the use of technology, teachers can individualize student activity more to their interests.

Section 6: Making Equipment Accessible: Classrooms verses Computer Labs?: This seems to lend more credibility to a question I presented in a previous article: should schools that have 1:1 initiatives (or otherwise have a high computer to student ratio) get rid of computer labs.

Reactions to: Technology in Schools (NCES)

This article provides rich information that I would use when planning evaluation questions. The “key questions? focused on aspects that technology coordinators and/or administrators should take into consideration when evaluating a district’s current technology status. This article provided insights (and/or questions related to) areas of technology coordination that I am not as familiar with. For instance, since I come from the teaching side of technology (and not necessarily the technical and administrative components of technology coordination), I was interested in information related to finances, infrastructure, and maintenance and support. This article will be useful as a resource when planning an evaluation.

August 14, 2006

Reactions to: An Educator’s Guide to Evaluating the Use of Technology in Schools and Classrooms (Quinones)

This article walks the reader through the evaluation process (as I have discussed in a previous entry that are related to an Evaluation class I recently completed). The article even discussed topics from Michael Scriven (formative and summative evaluations). What was nice about this article, though, was the fact that it took evaluation theory and created a template for use in technology plan creation. This article would also serve as a good resource when building a new tech plan (or even when you have taken over a tech plan with several problems.)

August 13, 2006

Reactions to: Technology Planning (Porter)

When I filled out the characteristics of technology planning and assessment phases worksheet, I rated our district somewhere between Phase 2 and Phase 3. What kept me from finding our district to be solely in Phase 3 was the fact that not all kids (and therefore not all classrooms) have access to technology. Thankfully, those who are tech savvy have access to the technology, but other classrooms are lacking. Therefore, it depends who you talk to whether or not we are in Phase 2 vs. Phase 3. The 1:1 laptop initiative in our district has been highly controversial, however, throughout the campus week, I have begun to recognize what such technology access to children may do to transform our educational system, and am leaning towards supporting the initiative.

August 12, 2006

Reactions to: Technology Connections For School Improvement (McNabb)

As I was reading through this handbook, I couldn’t help but think of the similarities between this plan, and a class that I have recently completed on “Principles & Methods of Evaluation? (King). Although the steps did not match up directly (between the handbook and the procedures for conducting an evaluation), many of the steps and tasks recommended matched up. Therefore, if I were to write a technology plan from scratch in a school district, I would likely conduct an evaluation in order to facilitate the writing of the plan.

Reactions to: Successful K-12 Technology Planning (Barnett)

There are many things I could comment on this article, as it provided much useful information for technology planning and integration. In this entry, I will highlight a few.

1) Te on-line tools provided in this article were helpful, and I have highlighted them for future use.

2) Step #5 indicated that access, more than just “one or two computers or a weekly visit to the computer lab? are needed in order to integrate technology into a curriculum. With an increasing number of laptops in our school district, I have been wondering about the usefulness of computer labs. The primary benefit (at least that I see) of a computer lab is that someone can set up the computers for you prior to a class. However, the same person could be used to set up laptops. Computer labs give the image that computer learning is separate from classroom learning. I will have to learn more about the potential benefits of computer labs, but I may find that with an increase in laptops, computer labs may be a thing of the past.

3) Step number #7 suggested that, "setting single standards for software, hardware, networks and video equipment is crucial.? This is always been a battle with those who want to hang on to what they are used to, but, in the long run, I agree with the author or this article – one standard is better.

July 22, 2006

Reflections on Zhao's Article: What's In, What's Out....

“What is missing from all technology plans is the image of technology as a complex social practice that is "...involved in many ways in the construction and use of power." (p.13)

Unfortunately, not much has changed since the writing of this article (2001) with many educators. Technology integration is often thought of in terms of ‘how can I include the use of technology into what I am currently doing in the classroom’ (like an add-on feature) instead of ‘how can I use technology to improve what I am doing’. Instead of merely adding-on, teachers need to incorporate technology into their curriculum.

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“According to this view students will blossom as learners (i.e. reach new standards of academic excellence) under the reformed practices of teaching brought about by technology, the fruits of which shall be weighed and calibrated via achievement tests? (p. 15)

How can achievement tests accurately capture learning? At the very least, the achievement tests that I am familiar with do not. Since “answers? can now be quickly obtained over the Internet to most achievement-type tests, we are testing memorization, not mastery. I appreciate the definition of learning that one of my previous professors often stated: “you understand a topic when you are able to teach it to others.? Mastery is not defined as accurate recollection of facts, but as the ability to use those facts in a meaningful manner. Current achievement tests do not do this. It therefore begs the often-asked question, ‘Do we teach for school or for life?’

July 14, 2006

Reflections: 5th Day (Friday) - Tech Plan

If I were responsible for the writing of goals, indicators, benchmarks, and measures, I would first draft the goals myself (assuming that the needs assessments have been conducted with a large(r) group of people). Then I would take my draft to a small committee and revise, then I would take the revised draft to the large(r) group and revise again. The semantics of writing these goals are too cumbersome when a large group of individuals write every word together.

July 11, 2006

Tuesday's Reflections: State & Federal Plans

Our group reviewed the 2004 National Ed Tech plan. We were encouraged with the direction of the goals, however, little is stated as to how these goals will be accomplished. In fact, it appeared as if the federal government is providing (telling) the states where to go, but providing little/no resources to accomplish those goals.

July 10, 2006

Monday - Day 1

We had as interesting discussion on aspects of the Technology Planning Process. A large part of the discussion was on whether/not technology curriculum should go "hand-in-hand" with the technology plan. Ultimately, tech plans will be incorporated into larger curriculum plans, but as for now, separate tech plans are needed.

July 7, 2006

Reactions to: e-Learning

It is amazing to see the progress that was made between 1996 and 2000 with technology integration. (Even the readability of this plan was much improved over the 1996 plan.) The plan noted several resources (Virtual High School is but one example) that detailed the benefits of increases in the integration of technology into education.

Reactions to: 1st Education Technology Plan (1996)

The overall purpose of this article was influential: an attempt to inspire the reader to meet the challenges of the increasing use of technology in education and in the world. It is amazing how far we have come in the last 10 years with technology.