Technology Use Planning Overview

Technology has been around us for decades. However, the rate of change and development is now growing exponentially. With new technologies and methodologies, we often find ourselves, as educators, unsure of how best we should utilize new and old technologies both in our personal lives and as instructional tools.

Technology Use Planning aims to address such concerns by institutions proactively coming up with a carefully constructed plan of action. The Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan explains that the purpose of technology planning is, “…not only to create a document, but also to provide a foundation on which an effective curriculum of technology use in education can be built and maintained.” (1999). Such plan would allow its designers (for our purposes, the educational institution) to reflect on, and better understand, the institution’s current standing. In addition, based on where the institution envisions itself in the future, they create a detailed plan including benchmarks and timeframes in order to achieve the desired goals. Lastly, the means to measure success would be established (1999).

Such plan is needed in order to transform individuals from mere consumers of information to active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in this global networked society. The NETP 2012’s Introduction page offers an excellent reflection point for where schools should direct their efforts in order to accomplish such education reform:

 “…schools must be more than information factories; they must be incubators of exploration and invention. Educators must be more than information experts; they must be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students. Students must be fully engaged in school—intellectually, socially, and emotionally. This level of engagement requires the chance to work on interesting and relevant projects, the use of technology environments and resources, and access to an extended social network of adults and peers who support their intellectual growth.” (2012)

Image source: http://douglasschunk.files.wordpress.com/2011/11/image1.jpg

The new National Educational Technology Plan 2012 would be an excellent place to start such endeavor. This is a detailed plan of action carefully designed by highly qualified educators (teachers, learning and assessment experts, ICT Specialists, etc.), while taking into consideration the feedback received from many teachers, industry experts, and the public (2012). By using the NETP, schools can get insight into the government’s desired direction and goals, and create their own technology use plan based on that. Although it may require changing budgets, creativity, personal investment, and a lot of time, by understanding the larger goals, and being given implementation guidelines, each school can begin to create their improvement path at their own pace.

The NETP suggests 5 goals and outlines recommendations for each of them. These goals relate to: an engaged and empowered learning; careful and appropriate assessment; teacher preparation/ training; accessibility to infrastructure; and, re-designing and transforming productivity (2012). In order to properly utilize this information, schools should form committees, and review, discuss, and create and implementation plan for each goal in their own level, and according to their school’s needs and abilities.

John See, a Technology Integration Specialist from Minnesota Department of Education, believes that technology use plans must be short term (up to one year) due to the rapid changes in technology (1992). I believe that when educators sit together and plan the direction in which they would like to see a particular aspect going, they should create both a Vision and a Mission Statement. The vision would describe the direction in general terms, the “desired goal”, while the mission would outline how to get there, what are the steps of implementation. So the plan can continue to change through frequent reviews, but the end goals (the “WHATs”) will always be there to guide the implementation steps (the “HOWs”). So a vision can be written for a long term, but the implementation plan must include mandatory yearly reviews under the assumption that due to the nature of technology, at least some aspects of the plan would be revised every year.

This also ties to John See’s comment that effective technology plans should focus on applications rather than technology (1992). One of the important lessons I learned from the assignment on the digital divide and digital inequality was that access to technology alone does not guarantee the creation of informed, creative, and ethical citizens. If we design our plans based on the number of computers we “should” have, we run the risk of overlooking our end goals and wasting valuable money, because we need to think what technology would allow us to satisfy our needs/goals rather than grappling with the question “what can we do with this computer?” That said, having technology around is better than not having it. However, if we focus on the kinds of citizens we wish to produce/become, we can then deduct that in order to achieve these goals we would need certain technologies, or in certain cases decide that technologies are not necessarily needed.

The experience I am having at the moment is interesting. Our previous Director was proud to declare to us (during our interview) that there are so many computers at our school, that it is almost a one-to-one situation. He continued by saying that our computer labs are “top-notch” and that our technology would allow us to teach better. However, the reality has proven to be not so exciting. Aside from Microsoft Office Suite, the computers are equipped with simple and outdated applications, which are incompatible with other applications or formats (for example, Windows MovieMaker™); the computers are extremely slow and internet is pretty much worthless in the afternoons; the list of blocked/unauthorized sites are endless; ordering of technology takes many months (if it is ever approved); and, the grievance process is lengthy and unpleasant…

Luckily, our new Director is willing to start a dialog, and has employed a qualified IT Coordinator who would hopefully create a technology use plan for our school. He is a  PhD candidate at Boise State, so I have faith…

I addressed AECT standard 3.4 (Policies and Regulations) under standard 3: Utliziation, by reviewing and synthesizing government-initiated programs and documents, and by offering my ideas as to the implementation of a technology use plan.

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Sources:

Anderson, T. J. (2008, November 8). Technology use planning. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/tja33/technology-use-planning-presentation

Graduate Students at Mississippi State University. (1999). Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan. Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook35.pdf

See, J. (1992, May). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher19, (8). Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

Tech Trends Assignment

It took me a while to decide what lesson I would like to create for this assignment. What was the most challenging for me was to choose which technology to utilize. My choices were not easy. It was either using my school’s computers with pre-installed software, or the iPads (which the younger students currently use as a part of a pilot program). I initially had a great idea for using the iPad for our new unit “Materials and Matter”, but it all dissolved when I found few apps on this topic. In the absence of “specialized” apps, computers would be much more useful for a group of 5th graders.

I then decided to utilize what I have already been doing with/for my students. A couple of years ago I came across Only2Clicks– a great “visual bookmarking” service, where anyone can access your published URLs (there is a snapshot for each URL). In order to make my life as a “resourceful teacher” easier, last year I created a page for my students and their parents. It was an immediate success. Upon deciding to use this service, it was clear that my lesson would include research (perfect for our inquiry-based curriculum!)

When I was planning the next math unit (decimals and fractions) with my co-teacher, we decided to start with a pre-assessment of multiplication and division. Then it was clear! I could connect our previous unit (about Learning Styles) and the Learning Pyramid to get the students to show their understanding by teaching others how to multiply.

The plan would be: Starting with a pre-assessment, continuing with viewing instructional videos, and having the students create their own instructional videos (which connects perfectly with the ICT plan of using MovieMaker to create and edit videos!). To show their understanding, I decided to create a survey using the free site Survey Monkey, which I planned on students using next month anyway. It all came together beautifully!

I must admit that writing the lesson plan has felt like a waste of time. The last time I wrote such lesson plan was when I was still in college, and was never required to write them ever since. Although I see the importance of knowing how to write “wholesome” lessons, I feel that the activity is suitable to teacher-training occasions rather than real day-to-day teaching situations. As teachers, our daily schedules are full of activities and tasks, and we always feel like we are falling behind. “Stating the obvious” every time seems  unnecessary.

I chose to not use Scribd to embed my lesson due to the fact that since I have not taught the lesson yet, I may still need to tweak things. Embedding the lesson using Google Docs allows me to update the lesson so the changes are reflected in the document when it is opened later on. Although the formatting of the lesson is a bit off (see the multiplication problems in the worksheet) I am leaving it as is because the lesson can be downloaded with proper formatting from my Google Docs site. I may still decide to use Scribd once I taught and reflected on the lesson.

The standards this lesson reflects are 1 (Design) and 3 (Utilization). Standard 1 refers to the design of instructional systems (the process of creating the lesson plan) and standard 3 refers to the use of media in the classroom (in my case Only2Clicks, videos, and SurveyMonkey) as well as the implementation of the instructional systems designed (the lesson) and the institutionalization of the lesson plan as a community resource.

This is my Tech Trends Lesson:

RSS for Education

The above image (from: http://comingupforair.net/2008/01/rss-icons/) is the RSS bundle I created (click the image to be linked to my bundle). I added several education-related websites to my Google Reader account, bundled them, and now they are joined together into one link. How convenient!

RSS feeds and Bundles can be used in a variety of ways in the classroom. They can be used by students or teachers to organize their own work, and as a collaborative tool.

As teachers we always look for new and exciting information to use with our students. By locating useful websites and other web resources, creating RSS feeds, and bundling them together, we can be notified when new events and resources are added to our chosen sites. In turn, we will be able to add these resources to our “resource bank”, or alternatively share them with our students. Another way teachers can use these resources are by choosing resources to “bundle” and share with their students.

Students can use the RSS feeds and Bundles in a similar way to collect information about topics of interest or for research purposes. In addition, students can create these “bundles” together (each adding the sources they find) or even share “complete bundles” with each other.

Lastly, teachers can use RSS feeds and Bundles to monitor student work in a variety of ways. For example, if students have their own websites or blogs, teachers can be notified when each student updates his/her website or blog. Another example would be for teachers to monitor the contribution of each student (i.e., when researching) by looking at and commenting on individual bundles.

RSS feeds and Bundles are a part of standard 4.4 (Information Management) because they  allow you to manage information in a convenient and efficient way. Instead of constantly  searching for new or updated information, the information is organized and delivered to you, patiently waiting for you to view it.

Introduction Video Assignment

For this assignment we were to create about a 3-minute video and include information about ourselves and our education, why we chose Boise’s EdTech program, and what our future goals are.

I filmed myself in my classroom, and edited my video using iMovie. All in all it was a simple assignment with moderate time investment (+/- 3.5 hours).

In the past year I have been frequently working with iPhoto and iMovie to create slideshows and videos for my school and my class. What I like most about these 2 Mac programs are their already-made templates, which help create visually pleasing presentations with little effort.

I need to find an excuse to learn about and use more advanced movie editing software such as Final Cut Pro. Until then, here is my Intro to EdTech video. Enjoy:

Initial Reflections…

So… here it comes… My first post.

As it looks now, this Master’s with Boise is going to be lots of fun. Some repetitive work, but overall lots of new, exciting, and useful stuff.

The pace of the course is a bit too slow, but understandable. I am very excited to get on with it. I am wondering if it would be possible to complete the course at my own pace. There are lots of discussion, peer reviews, etc. that need to take place, so I guess the answer would be… “No”.

I like what Barbara Schroeder (the Prof.) has done with Moodle. We should probably send our school’s IT dept to learn the potential of this mostly open-source program. I am impressed.

Too many school e-mails to read and reply to. I will adjourn for today…