Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Educational Technology Issues

What are your personal concerns about education technology?
One of my concerns regarding education technology is that education technology is not and likely will not catch up with business technology. In preparing students for college and career readiness, the technology that schools are using is already behind that of business technology. Students may well be using technologies that businesses have already cast off. The endless game of “catch-up” that schools play to get as close as possible to using relevant business tools is a concern. However, if educators are addressing the 21st Century Skills, then students will have the efficacy to handle new technologies as presented to them.

My other concern getting teachers to accept the concept of life-long learning and create a culture where Personal Learning Networks (PLN’s) are the norm.

What technology issues are affecting your school/district?
While the district, like most other districts, is faced with the issue of funds for technology, the main issue is professional development for educational technology. There are so many web 2.0 tools available as well as cloud computing, that even hand-me-down computers/laptops are making do when necessary. The real issue appears to getting teachers trained to use technology that pertains to their curriculum and be able to use that technology to improve student learning. Professional development of the past has been a one-size-fits-all model that will not suffice any longer. McCombs (2010) discusses using “regular daylong collaborative planning sessions, [where] teacher leaders provide mini-lessons that highlight new technologies they have used in their classrooms since the last planning session” (p. 12). Administration and teachers at Pleasant Plains school district have just recently begun discussions for professional development activities similar to this.

Based on issues identified by your classmates, how have you resolved them (or how would you resolve them?)
Funding issues have been addressed by soliciting monetary or hardware donations from local businesses and booster organizations. Since the Pleasant Plains student population has a small percentage of low-income families, the district often does not qualify for any grants. However, several teachers have found organizations such as Donor’s Choose to be helpful.

As president of the Pleasant Plains Education Association the past two years, I strongly advocated for 21st Century Skills. I introduced both the faculty and administration to the concepts of PLN’s and pushed for collaboration between teachers. I facilitated Teacher Share websites at each building where teachers could post various project plans, rubrics, classroom management ideas, Web 2.0 tools, PLN nings to join, and, finally, twitter hashtags for collaboration. As I got teachers to start talking and sharing with each other, I started to have discussions with the administration regarding professional development. While the plan in the past for professional development has been to demonstrate a technology tool to teachers with the expectation that they will just “go use it,” the administration and I discussed the need for Teacher Technology Share Fairs where tech-savy teachers can demonstrate tools that they use. We then discussed giving teachers multiple professional development blocks of time to work independently or in teams to plan lessons that incorporate technology tools that make sense in their individual curriculums.

As administrators and teachers work together to build this model of professional development next school year, they will also need to look at collaborative evaluations of the professional development to allow for adjustments as they progress. Smolin and Lawless (2011) note that “by engaging stakeholders in both the processes and the outcomes of evaluation, professional development can be dynamic, responsive to the needs of a greater number of stakeholders, and sustainable over the long term”(p. 97). Professional development regarding 21st Century Skills is a long term need. Having a good plan going into the Professional Development and an evaluation tool to make sure professional development is effective only makes sense.


McCombs, Brenda. "Culture of Collaboration." Learning & Leading with Technology Nov. 2010: 10-13. ERIC. Web. 13 June 2011.

Smolin, Louanne, and Kimberly A. Lawless. "Evaluation Across Contexts: Evaluating the Impact of Technology Integration Professional Development Partnerships." Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education Spring 2011: 92-98. ERIC. Web. 13 June 2011.

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