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July 14, 2006

Writing Goals

OK, so writing measurable goals does not appear to be one of my natural talents. Operating at this level of detail is a bit frustrating for me, but it was an excellent exercise in understanding how important data is in writing goals. Finding data that is easy to collect is often not very easy. I liked the idea of having quick web based response tools after completing an assignment or meeting a certain goal.

July 11, 2006

Tuesday's Class

Today we looked at State and National Tech Plans. The State plans were studied by Zhao. In his article he talked about 4 dimensions-Technology, student, teacher, educational goals. In reading about these four dimensions, we found these main ideas:
• Technology- associated as deus ex machina, political document, discussed as utopian, ignores issues of ethics, social, and education
• Student- focused on technology’s ability to improve test scores, state that students become active, social learners simply by the presence of computers, no mention of how teaching and learning must change, individual-based instruction
• Teacher- categorized as gatekeeper, only one categorized as designer, focus on technology not on teacher, teacher acts as a filter, talk about teacher training needs to be a priority, should not be short term
• Educational Goals- focus on economic progress for the future, prepare for the workplace, no focus on equity issues
• Plans need to shift from political rhetoric to functional guides for success which include the resources to make them come true.

Next we looked at the National Educational Technology Plan for 2004. Below are the seven major goals of the plan.
• Seven Major Action Steps and Recommendations
• 1. Strengthen Leadership
• 2. Consider Innovative Budgeting
• 3. Improve Teacher Training
• 4. Support E-Learning and Virtual Schools
• 5. Encourage Broadband Access
• 6. Move Toward Digital Content
• 7. Integrate Data Systems

These seemed to be solid goals with many good examples of how states and districts are meeting them. What is missing are the resources to accomplish these goals. I would like to see the State Plans build upon this document to create some guidelines on how districts can meet these goals.

July 10, 2006

Monday's Class - Technology Planning

The discussion today centered around how broad a technology plan should be. The tech directors tended to be concerned that tech plans are becoming too broad, focusing too much on what to do with the technology. Others seemed to believe that prof. dev., integration, and vision were essential parts of the plan. I feel very strongly that tech people and education people need to work more and more in concert to help each other. Tech people need to provide information about what technology is out there and where we are headed with tech tools. Educators need to be involved, providing information about what is being taught and what students need to be able to do. If we remove one group from this equation, the remaining plan is incomplete.

July 9, 2006

National Ed Tech Plan

I am very excited that our federal government is making the call for schools to be transformed through technology. This is a giant step towards making districts, politicians, parents, students, and teachers take notice. The examples given for ways that technology can transform the way we do things is a good list: accessing primary sources, multimedia, simulations, interactive software, tracking student achievement and adjusting instruction more effectively. I agree with all of those ideas. But comparing NCLB to putting a man on the moon. Where is the support and teamwork that went into that challenge? NASA has access to the best and brightest in science. We do not. The government spared no expense in making the journey to the moon. Not so in education. NASA was not "held accountable" through testing that limited its ability to take risks, be innovative, and accomplish greatness. This was a poor analogy in my opinion.

The part about virtual schools was interesting. I liked the idea that students might only take 1-2 courses virtually that are not offered at schools, but what about taking parts of courses virtually to allow for more flexiblity in the school day. This already takes place in countries like Singapore, where students are given virtual assignments during certain weeks throughout the school year to free teachers up for professional development and committee work.

The action steps were also good. I especially like the concept of moving toward digital content. We started doing this at the school I worked at in CT in the 90's. We used WebWhacker to "whack" websites with appropriate content for science and social studies. Teachers were able to use internet content in their classrooms despite not being online, but more importantly, we could easily update the content as information changed. Textbook companies seem to finally be getting on board with this as well, offering digital content either through CD-Rom or subscription based websites that either replace or enhance textbooks.

July 5, 2006

White - Getting the Most from Technology in Schools

I liked the comparison of learning "from" computers vs. learning "with" computers. I have worked really hard on having students take a more active role in their computer projects rather than responding to software by simply clicking a mouse or keyboard.

The notion of 70% of the budget going toward "human infrastructure" is eye opening. I have banged this drum for a long time. We will make more progress if we focus on training and support than hardware.

I also liked the idea that part of effective prof. dev. includes time for teachers to reflect on their experiences as well as how to assess products. We are often shortchanged in these areas which results in kids being shortchanged.

Barnett- Successful K-12 Tech Planning

While I found the 10 steps to tech planning interesting, I found no real surprises here. The interesting part to me was the six barriers to effective integration. The lack of leadership is a big issue that can not often be addressed within a district. Leaders do not have anyone to tell them that they are not leading or are not heading in the right direction. It often feels like we are oars fighting the power of larger sails and a powerful rudder. The rudder must set the right path for the oars to have an impact.

I also thought the budget breakdown was interesting. The 40% for hardware, 20% for software, 20% for professional development, and 20% for upgrades and additional needs. We are very low in prof. dev. and software. I do wonder where support fits into this budget.

Porter- Technology Planning

I actually saw Bernajean Porter speak. She was very motivating. She spoke about defining what you can't do and then doing it anyway. She was also very clear about the need for districts to stop making technology optional. This was very motivating to me. I work with teachers everyday who say technology just isn't their thing or they just don't have time for it. I talk to them about replacing technology with reading or math. We can never say that math just isn't our thing. We need to make technology a basic expectation in every classroom. We have often heard the analogy of the computer being a tool like the pencil. We need to make computers as transparent as the pencil in our classrooms. It is an assumption that students know how to use it and we don't spend hours showing kids how to use it. It is the tool we use to create.

McNabb- Tech Connections for School Improvement

This was a good starting point for the reading. I have worked on Tech Committees that have done plans in three different districts. I have also worked on multiple school tech plans. At each place we have done some of these things well and neglected others. The key area that gets neglected is how to get all teachers to use technology effectively rather than a cadre or those who happen to be interested. Also, the plans rarely specify how to get teachers to use technology on a daily basis rather than a few projects interspersed throughout the school year. In my current district, building a technology infrastructure seems to be the highest priority while developing a vision and supporting professional development are lagging behind.

June 26, 2006

Initial Thoughts

Hi. My name is Dave Zukor. I am a technology teacher in Wayzata PS. In addition to working predominantly with students, I also work with staff on technology integration. I am excited for the upcoming week. I hope to learn about many different aspects of technology in education, including how to help my district move forward with tech integration and professional development. I hope to learn about new and interesting strategies for instructional technology. I also look forward to working with other people in the field and hearing about your stories, where you are and where you see yourself and your district moving. At the end of the week, I hope to come away with a renewed energy to work with my district administrators to help us make wise decisions going forward and to maximize our resources.