Embedded below is the School Evaluation Survey that I completed for a school that I am familiar with. This project, which allowed me to use the technology maturity benchmarks to evaluate the technological maturity of this school, was an interesting project. I was able to evaluate the school and in doing so, met many of the AECT Standards. This project involved problem analysis in which I was required to analyze the current school and consider their areas of weakness and strength. It was fascinating because I had to carefully consider things that I had never before considered when looking at the technology use of this school. Additionally, my evaluation gave me the opportunity to take the information that I gathered and apply it to a plan, or idea, for further development and utilization. Throughout the course of this project, I considered long-range plans and how I could help to apply the things that I learned to the school in order to help them to better develop their technology use.
Overall, I feel as though by completing this project, I am better prepared for the future in which I will be required to look at and evaluate various schools and the way that they use technology. I will know how to consider the various points of their technology use plan and then make recommendations based on where they are and what their weaknesses are.
Technology use planning incorporates the “big picture” of technology use with the objectives of a district, school, or classroom. Technology use planning answers the question posed by John See in his article Developing Effective Technology Plans, “What applications of technology are available to help our students, staff, and administration work smarter, not harder?” (See 1992). Effective technology use planning examines what the applications can do, rather than what the technology can do. A technology use plan uses identified objectives to create a technological environment in which students can learn and teachers can teach in an interesting, collaborative, accessible, and productive manner. The National Educational Technology Plan is an effective resource to help schools to develop and implement a technology use plan. It provides goals that schools can use to help create a plan that is effective and useful. It also provides, most importantly, reasons why certain goals and plans are needed, as well as why they are effective. Overall, the plan provides technology plan developers with a tool as well as an example with which to develop their own plan that pertains to their own school district.
I enjoyed reading John See’s article about technology use planning, and yes, I do agree with him. I believe that he made some very valid points about technology use planning. He seems to have a very good understanding of the way that most schools operate when it comes to technology planning, and he had very effective arguments as to why those methods would not and were not working. When it comes to applications, I do agree with his points about the applications being what teachers and students need to learn with, not the technology. The technology (computers, tablets, etc.) are the foundation for the actual learning that happens in applications. What he is suggesting is that districts take a proactive, rather than retroactive approach. Plan for technology based on what the school’s needs and objectives are. Start with the defined objectives, and ask the question of what is needed to get there in the most effective manner. Opposed to approaching it from the opposite direction where the schools look at what they have and then consider how they can cram their objectives into that platform. The National Education Technology plan discusses the important process of planning and sets guidelines for educational institutions for planning that include:
- “Be clear about the outcomes we seek.
- Collaborate to redesign structures and processes for effectiveness, efficiency, and flexibility.
- Continually monitor and measure our performance.
- Hold ourselves accountable for progress and results every step of the way” (Atkins 2010).
It is important to choose the correct type of technology that can support the necessary applications, but what it comes down to is the goals, the objectives, of the environment. What do the students, staff and administration need and want to be able to do? Additionally, it is key that the structure is effective and that that occurs through continual monitoring and measuring of the system’s performance. There needs to be progress, but progress is impossible unless the effective guidelines that the National Educational Technology plan discusses are followed. The plan is a key element and resource for schools as they collaborate to develop their own technology use plans. Technology can be used for productivity, management of instruction, and curriculum all at the same time using a basic platform of Mac’s, PC’s, netbooks, or tablets. The applications are what builds those up to allow the elements to work together to allow our staff and students to work smarter, not harder (See 1992). I also think that in order for a school to have the most effective technology, an effective use plan would focus on the short term more than the long term. With my experience with school districts, I do think that there needs to be a long term “plan” in place, but I think that that needs to be a very loose and easy to change plan that provides a direction, but is flexible and always changing. Just like a good teacher is always changing their plan, so to do the technology plan developers need to be willing to change and adjust their plan based on new technology and results of assessments. We need to be constantly looking at how we can change things to create a better learning and teaching environment for our students and staff. It is all about change and adaptation.
As for me personally, I have had limited experience with technology use planning. The school district that I taught for last year was all the bad examples that John See used in his article. It was rigid, and focused on the technology itself rather than what the teachers or the staff could do with it. Most of the computers were dated and slow and frustrating to work with. The school seemed to focus more on teaching what the computers could do than teaching the teachers how to use the technology to use applications to help the students learn and the staff teach more effectively. There was little support and little forward thinking. The administrators in charge of the technology development were also rather dated and inexperienced with how to use technology in the classroom, and I felt that they were ineffective in the teaching the skills they were focusing on. I didn’t attend any professional development classes that helped me to be a better teacher by using applications in my classroom. Their focus was on how to use the technology, not how to utilize the technology and applications to help us become better teachers.
Atkins, D.E., Bennet, J., Brown, J.S., Chopra, A., Dede, C., Fishman, B., … Gomez, L. (November 2010) National Education Technology Plan 2010. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files.netp2010.pdf
See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
While RSS Feeds provide great advantages for a teacher, they also can provide great opportunities for students of all ages as well.
From a student’s perspective, RSS Feeds allow a student to collect information on a particular subject for a project, paper, or research. They could further demonstrate knowledge of the topic by organizing it into different categories, or folders. RSS feeds provide students with consistent access to news and current events very easily. It is often difficult for schools to provide economical and simple access to current events and news. RSS feeds provide a great alternative to newspapers and allow students to access and read information that they are interested in, which is key for student engagement and interest.
To summarize, RSS Feeds are a key tool for any educator that is wanting to integrate technology in the classroom. They allow the user to control what information they recieve, as well as the amount of information they receive. RSS feeds allow the user, teacher or student, to easily classify and categorize information. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, RSS feeds allow the user to easily locate information in a world that can easily make anyone feel inundated with information.
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This was a fascinating project. I enjoyed learning how to work with a group in an online environment as well as learning more about Digital Inequality and the Digital Divide. As an individual who grew up with access to technology, it was good for me to stop and think about what my life would look like without that access to technology. Additionally, not only do I have access to technology, but I also know how to utilize it to it’s maximum benefit. I know how to use it for research, job search, and education. As a group, we identified that the education on the many uses of technology is the most important aspect in addressing Digital Inequality. I strongly believe that this is true and that the way to close the gap between the “have” and the “have not’s” is through education.
This project aligned to the AECT Standards 3.2, 3.4, and 4.1. In this project, I examined the policies and regulations that affect the diffusion and use of Instructional Technology by researching the rules and regulations that are currently in place and examining how those could be changed and adjusted to make better use of technology. As part of the task force that examined the issues, I helped to develop strategies that could lead to the adoption of and change in the way that technology implemented and taught. Additionally, as part of the task force that examined the issues surrounding Educational Technology, I helped to plan, monitor, and develop projects that will lead to the improvement in the use of Educational Technology.
The use of the word “creating” in the definition of educational technology is essential in understanding not only the definition of educational technology, but also the requirements of both the student and instructor in the educational process. The Definition and Terminology Committee of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology defines educational technology as, “The study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources” (p.1). In reading the chapter and considering how each of the words enables a better understanding of the definition, I picked the word “creating” to focus on. From a teachers perspective, an understanding of what it means to create meaningful and informative lessons for students is an essential element in creating a successful classroom that incorporates educational technology. From a students perspective, creating is also a key word because in today’s learning environment, it is essential to be open, willing, and able to create one’s own learning.
“Creation refers to the research, theory, and practice involved in the generation of instructional materials, learning environments, and large teaching learning systems in many different settings, formal and nonformal” (p.7). The paradigm shift in learning theories has changed the role of the teacher to one of a guide and puts the student front and center as constructivist, rather than receiver of knowledge. With this shift, it then falls on the shoulders of the instructor to create and design curriculum that is not focused on simply delivering the information to the student, but rather creating a platform in which the student is allowed to do his or her own learning and discovering. This requires more creativity than the old way of recitation and regurgitation of facts. The teacher must think of the “whole” students and help guide students with different learning styles to meet the standards that have been established. Deeper, more authentic learning is the result, and with this, both the instructor and the student must be more creative in designing the lessons and in learning from them. As the committee says, “In these environments, the key role of technology is not so much to present information and provide drill and practice (to control learning) but to provide the problem space and the tools to explore it (to support learning)” (p. 4). Learning must go beyond the simple retention regurgitation of information and dig deeper to the use and application of the information. Again, this requires real, thoughtful, and creative lessons that incorporate a hierarchy of though processes and learning style. Lessons that incorporate the learner-focused, constructivist method of instruction are creative and thought provoking.
When considering the definition of educational technology, the concept of creativity in lesson and curriculum design stood out to me as a key factor in the success of this definition. From my point of view as a teacher and a student, it is easy for me to see how “creating” is such an essential element of a classroom that successfully incorporates educational technology.