The Implications for Education
The Implications for Education
In a district as large as Philadelphia (over 270 schools & about 180,000 students), it easy to feel isolated. I know it sounds crazy, but the larger the system, the more out of touch people become with the system. I have been teaching computers for 2 years now, and I have managed to survive thanks to an email listserv called the “PTRN” list (Philadelphia Technology Resource Network). It is a community of teachers that share information and help each other with technology problems on a daily basis. I have, on many occasions, sent out an email and received a response within minutes.
I recently attended an Elluminate session with Di Benard, hosted by Edublogs about protecting your Digital Identity. I logged into the room, not knowing exactly what to expect. I came out with my head spinning (in a good way!)
So yesterday I decided to go “Off the Grid,” or “OTG,” as I called it on Twitter. I got the idea from Vicki Davis‘ blog post in which she stated that, due to a vacation, she would be ‘off the grid’ for a while. After reading her post, I began to reflect on my use (overuse?) of technology and how it affects my social life and my relationships. Then, a few days later, I read Beth Still‘s post about the same topic (both blog posts have great conversation in the comment area, by the way). I realized that this was something that people are really starting to think about and become concerned about.
In a recent blog post, Scott McLeod asked “15 questions to ask about the technology leadership in your school district.” Many of his questions got me thinking about how we plan for technology in our schools and in our districts. Many of the questions of leadership can be solved through good planning. (you can read my response to his blog post about this, too) With good planning, questions of roles and responsibilities can be easily solved. So can problems with hardware-to-faculty or hardware-to-student ratios or whether technology is being used effectively to engage and instruct students.
With all the talk of Glogster recently, I decided to create a visual depiction of the planning process. There are 7 main steps to good technology planning:
1.) Create a team: Make sure the team consists of members of all stakeholders (parents, community members, teachers, administrators….)
2.) Assign roles: Describe the roles and responsibilities of all team members.
3.) Complete a Needs Assessment: Conduct surveys, conversations, observations to assess what your school/students/staff need to increase effective use of technology to promote teaching and learning.
4.) Set measurable goals based on the Needs Assessment: Once you know what the needs are, set a few realistic, measurable goals (goals with a timeline and with a way to measure effectiveness or success- i.e. test scores, observed behaviors…).
5.) Plan for tracking and monitoring of goals: Make sure that one of the team members is assigned to monitor the progress of each goal.
6.) Collect data: Have each team member collect measurable data about their goal for future use.
7.) Assess goals, revise, revisit and rewrite: Once your goals’ time period have passed, look back on whether they were effective. Keep good initiatives going, revise ones that were fairly successful but need some changes and scratch those that were not effective.
This cycle starts again at #3 (Needs Assessment). It is up to your school or district to decide how often you will go through this cycle. Usually it is from every 2-3 years.
Make sure you include a budget and budgetary concerns in the plan and that funding of the Technology Plan mirrors the school or district’s budget plan.
Please feel free to comment or add anything I may have left out!
Technology Planning resources:
National Center for Technology Planning
Guiding Questions for Technology Planning
Looking for your state’s plan? Just do a search for : “my state technology plan” and it should come up. These plans are public and should be available for viewing.
When I read Scott McLeod‘s call for a Leadership Day, asking bloggers to reflect on and advocate for preparing our students with 21st century skills and improving student outcomes, I was very excited. What a great idea to have everyone reflect on the same topic in their blogs. We were guaranteed to get many different perspectives because everyone comes from a different situation and/or different role in education.
I decided to review the newly released NETS for Administrators and choose some areas that I felt were important to my school and my district. I found these areas to be relevant to my role as a lab teacher and as a teacher in an inner city school:
c. provide learner-centered environments equipped with technology and learning resources to meet the individual, diverse needs of all learners.
c. recruit and retain highly competent personnel who use technology creatively and proficiently to advance academic and operational goals.
As adults, the children in our care are our responsibility. It is the job of administrators to lead effective schools and progressive districts. Our children are aware when they are under-served and they know when their teachers are not effective. And someday, these children will be the leaders, so let’s prepare them for that role.
A few hours ago I read Lee Kolbert‘s blog entry about vendors at NECC 2009. I wanted to comment, but worried that my comment would be too long. I decided to respond and piggyback on her entry with my own!
As a ‘Newbie’ to NECC, I had heard mixed things about the Exhibit floor. “Don’t waste your time,” some said, “they’re just salespeople.” “Check it out,” other said, “you can learn about new and upcoming technologies and get free stuff!” I decided to meet them somewhere in the middle by visiting a few booths, but trying not to get stuck listening to a sales pitch.
I found the Exhibit floor to be worth the small amount of time I spent there (about 1 1/2 hours over 2 days). I checked in with the Discovery Education booth where I met people who work closely with my school district. A colleague (Tracey McGrath) had brought me to the booth recommending that I become a Discovery Star Educator, which I am working on as I write this blog entry. We have a license in Philadelphia for Discovery Streaming, which allows you to access Discovery Education’s huge library of videos available for download and streaming for members. While I did not sit for a presentation, as a user of Discovery Streaming, I know what a great resource it is for teachers. This vendor was providing a great resource to NECC 09 attendees.
I also stopped by the Tech4Learning booth, where a presentation had just started. It was led by a real teacher who not only introduced us to the various softwares (Pixie, Frames, Twist, Image Blender, and more), but showed us examples of student work from her classroom using some of these tools. I have been trying to find an alternative to KidPix for the last 2 years, and by visiting the Tech4Learning booth, I now have a software that I fell in love with (Pixie) and can now present to the district as a new tool for the classroom. Tech4Learning also has tons of online resources as well as an online community for users of their products. Plus, after sitting through a short presentation, I was awarded a CD with free licenses to 5 of their software products!
I also attended sessions with SMART and sat in on a Promethean presentation. Both of these sponsors added content to the conference by stoking the fires of imagination about what can be done with Interactive White Boards in the classroom.
While these are just some of the examples of booths that I visited, I have to agree with Lee that vendors have something to offer NECC (ISTE 2010 next year). That is NOT to say that ALL vendors added something to the conference. What I think would be useful for 2010 is the ability for attendees to rate vendors based on certain criteria. For example: quality of presentations, interaction with attendees, relevance to ed tech and whether they add anything to the conversation and dialogue about ed tech at the conference.
If you did not visit the Exhibit floor in 2009 and are leery of vendors, please take 30 minutes in 2010 to check it out!
Please leave comments about vendors or tell me about some vendors I missed and should have checked out!
Thanks to Lee Kolbert for the thoughtful commentary that started me thinking about corporations and ed tech!