Posts Tagged ‘ technology ’

Is The Money Worth It?

Recently, I read and article in Education Canada by Ron Canuel.  He reviews the issue of increased student learning and technology cost.

I have read more than a few articles on this issue and a few blogs as well.  Many schools are striving to become 1:1 schools where every student has a laptop or iPad.  Obviously, there is a cost to this type of programming and many educators and reformers think the money should go elsewhere.  Many literacy advocates have felt that this money was not available for libraries, but is suddenly available for technology.

Even the  people who value technology, believe money is not spent wisely.  The issue I read most about is, “should schools be using interactive whiteboards to the extent they are or be using the money to become a 1:1 school.”  Bill Ferriter has written a lot about this on his Tempered Radical Blog.

Mr. Canuel cites a study published by the Journal of Technology, Learning and assessment (JTLA).  Basically, it stated that technology used in a traditional manner will use traditional results.  Larry Cuban also noted this and has stated the use of technology was oversold and underutilized.

Canuel found the JTLA article also noted something very important.   Many researchers who are against tech. spending are focusing on the trees rather than the forest.  Their meta-analysis research found that “the creation of new-paradigm schools that are self-organizing…are creating a dynamic in the classroom where students become increasingly engaged in their learning.  The participation of students in the design of teaching strategies  and assessments does generate an increase student achievement.”

Simply stated, if we do not have specific purposes for technology use and integration, increases in learning will be minimal.  However, if specific learning targets are set, with proper planned use for tech., engagement of students in learning should increase.  If students are engaged in their learning, the results will show.  It does not matter if it’s a whiteboard, iPad or a laptop.  If the tool is not used properly, learning is minimal.  Is video used effectively in most classrooms, or the old filmstrips?

I believe technology (and its many platforms) can increase student learning, but like anything, it needs to be used properly and teachers need the PD to be able to do this.  I believe the creation of networks, PLN’s and administrator support can help teachers use technology to engage students and thus increase student learning.

Your thoughts?

Key questions:

How should schools and divisions purchase technology? Are we following best practice and research?

Are we influenced too much by tech. companies and just buy without specific plans in place. Does the planning take to long and then the infrastructure and tech. skills lag behind?

How should we use technology to effectively engage students?

Common Goals, Technology Advancement, and Staff Development.

I have been deliberating many things as we prepare for the start of the school year.  One of these items has been advancing the technological literacy of my staff.

With so much social media available, how does one prepare their staff to advance their technological skills commonly?  In many instances, teachers investigate technology on their own, developing a unique skill set.  What then happens is you have staff all over the map in terms of technological literacy.  Combine this with the technological change factor, and you have inconsistency in how technology is applied in classrooms.  School’s can plan specific PD sessions to develop the technology skills of teachers, but this can be very time-consuming.

I feel we need to develop our staff’s technology skills to a higher degree.  I believe my staff want to improve their literacy levels as well.  The best way to improve technology skills, I believe (at this time), is to develop a PLN.

If staff develop and use their own PLN, their technology skills and literacy can improve immensely.  They have for me. 

 So, how do we do this?  I think the plan may look like this:

1.  Use the tools available to us.  The school based PD session at the beginning of the year will be devoted to creating a PLN.  I have messed around with the idea of having a session before teachers officially return as well but that is to be determined.  If we did the latter, the school based time during start-up provides teachers with more time to investigate one or two areas of interest, read blogs, etc.

2.  Common PPGP goals regarding technology:  Each year our teachers need to state one or two personal/professional goals.  When reviewing these plans with staff,  I find most teachers have no problem stating one major area of focus.  However, a second goal (for some) is more difficult.  Probably, because their first goal is significant.   The principal can then help with the second goal.

So let’s take advantage of this opportunity.  Since most teachers want to increase their technology literacy, let’s use the PPGP to our advantage and have a common technology goal.  I am not saying we do everything EXACTLY.  Maybe our commonality is creating the PLN?  From there, teachers have more autonomy to delve into their personal and professional interest areas.  If we all have a PLN, the structure is created to improve technological  literacy from within.  Specialists may develop in certain areas, and that can help with staff PD in the future. 

If we create the framework for self-improvement with a common focus, teachers can use technology to a much higher degree in their classrooms.  I hope this would then develop into more specific, curriculum goals that will improve learning.

I suppose this is also why I wanted to do a session with our admin. group as well.   Help to develop peers and collaborate, then work to improve your school.

Let’s get started…

PD, Teachers and the Principal

Since the school year ended, I have been thinking a lot about professional development for my staff, specifically, how I can lead them in the growth of their own PLN.

I see the value of a PLN on a daily basis.  Subscribing in a reader, using Twitter, and reading blogs have been an incredible help to me over the last three years.  Now I wonder, “How can I help others create their own PLN’s?”  I did some work a while back with my staff, during after school sessions, but I did not achieve the results I had hoped for.  Many staff seem interested in developing a PLN, but time and other work commitments are significant factors.

During start-up for this school year I want to discuss technology planning with our staff in greater detail.  One element of this plan is creating their own PLN and I believe I can provide some leadership in this area.  Although I am not a true edtech teacher, I have learned and grown my PLN from the ground up and I hope this provides some comfort level for my staff as well.

Some benefits I hope to achieve with teachers developing their own PLN are:

  • Continuous PD.
  • Increased technological literacy – for them and the students.
  • Creating more global classrooms.
  • A common growth plan goal among staff.
  • Future leaders in technology.

The social media I believe are most important (to start with) are Google Reader, Twitter, Delicious and/or Diigo, and blogs.  If we can get teachers using these, I believe the basic framework will be in place.

In the months following, we can get together and add various social media to the list and continue to grow together.  I do not believe I should facilitate all new media.   Teachers could investigate one media and share with the group, hence they lead future sessions.

This plan is still in its infancy.  I welcome any input so I can make it better.

With technology so important in education today, this needs to be added directly to our Learning Improvement Plan.

More Reflections

Recently, I thought about some of the things I learned during this class,  Granted, instead of doing a mass amount of reading from a text, there were specific articles to read, but also gaining info. from a varity of other sources, like video, podcasts, TED  talks and a couple of live/online web chats.  It really goes to show how one can gain information and become knowledgable using technology.  I suppose this is part of what connectivism is all about.

I continue to think of my digital project and my contribution to the collaborative wiki.  Was it enough?  Did I do what was required?  Yes, I have learned many new tools and ideas over the course of this semester, but was it sufficient? For me, or for Alec?  I think one of purposes of this class was how things would continiue when the class ends.  Do we still implement the ideas we have learned, maybe just not as rapidly?  Is this all going to end?  I know my digital project will continue to evolve.  For instance, I started a class wiki for my Law 30 students and connect to the course blog through it.  This was NOT part of the plan when I first started.  I find I am taking the initial project idea and am wanting to make it evolve into something better all the time.  Not because I have to but because I want too.  This reflective blog should continue as well because of the contacts I have made all over the world.

There have been side projects as well.  In addition to the wiki I just started, I have one or two teachers connecting their students with students, who are children of Cirque du Soleil performers.  I have to thank Sharon Peters for this.  I have Skyped with Clarence Fisher and gained new ideas as well.  My tech. catalyst teacher and myself are starting a school blog or wiki and will hopefully be running soon.  I hope to have all staff with Delicious acounts soon as well, so more collaboration can take place. 

Basically, I am saying that in addition to my formal projects, there are many side projects being developed now as well, even though I did not put them as part of my formal course, but I think they needed to be mentioned.  Overall, I see some good things developing in the future.

The Brian and D’Arcy Show

Tuesday night was a bit of a “revival” for me, as Brian Lamb and D’Arcy Norman presented to the EC&I 831 group.  From the presentation, I noted a few items:

1.  Open-Connected Social Repositories:

I never really thought of this idea in the past, but I guess we can learn something new everyday.  I found their message on this topic consistent with other presenters we’ve had, regarding the openness and collaborative aspects of social networking.  The power of the network is in the users  and the sharing of ideas, etc. will only make it stronger.  I always wondered how the big library we call the internet can be effectively searched for information?  As discussed, Google has done this better than most, with other sites jumping on board.  I believe Technorati or Icerocket would be other examples.  Search engines that seek communities, formed around content make the network a powerful tool for learning.  Eg. Flickr and Delicious.

2.  Learning Objects:

I understood their example that anything is a learning object and one can form a community around it.  There are many examples of this on the net.  I guess the key question for me was, “What resources are we using in an educational context”, regarding technology. What can we find online?

Also, check out Connie’s blog.

I’ll leave it open for all of your comments.

The Social Web

The evolution of the internet has had a significant impact in education.  The amount of information readily available is literally astounding.  The ability to interact with people around the world, on a daily basis, has further developed the global community.

So far I have been able to have contact with other people around the world through blogging.  I started to blog about a year ago, but never had the drive to continue.  Part of it was because no one was reading my blog.  The “blogosphere” has changed this for me and has opened a whole new world of information and contact with others.  Some tasks that I had difficulty with in the first week were easily fixed with help from others, people who I don’t really even know.  Twitter and email helped me get direct contact and help from people.  I am becoming a fan of screencasts as well.  I knew the amount of info. on YouTube was significant and I believe this to an even higher extent now.

I believe the social web is a great tool for learning.  In PLC terms, we focus on collaboration to help teachers get better.  We should emphasize collaboration with students as well.  In constructivist terms, the social web enables students to interact with others from all walks of life, in a timely manner.  The “pool” of knowledge is vast and students should benefit from it.

Of course, this interaction needs to be monitored.  With the web expanding rapidly, we cannot keep up and track all the bad elements with the internet.  This is possibly why some educators are hesitant to incorporate technology.  The traditional way of teaching is much easier, familiar and safer.  However, I believe students are missing out on some fantastic learning opportunities if this approach is consistently taken.

I think Web 2.0 is providing great tools for learning.  I also believe some of the tools are actually easier for teachers to implement in their courses.  The difficulty is keeping up with all the new technologies.  Actually, we really have not kept up.  In fact, it is almost impossible to do that.  But educators can take one tool, learn it, and implement.  Starting small is the the key and gradually adding on. 

Other opinions to add?  Please leave a comment.