Teaching and learning over the past decade has seen an enormous paradigm shift in the way computers are used in the classroom. Teachers use them more for administrative tasks, and students go to the computer more often than to the library for research. The purpose of the first asignment for EDLD5362 was to explore one teacher’s experience with Internet resources in her classroom.
During the past ten to fifteen years, the availability of resources on the Internet related to teaching and learning has blossomed. Before the Internet, teachers had to rely solely on what they learned in preservice training and what was available to be shared among peers or in staff development. With the maturing of the Internet, new tools and resources are constantly made available. According to his 1998 survey, Henry Jay Becker found that 68 percent of teachers were using the Internet to find information for use in building lessons, and more than 28 percent accessed the Internet to do so at least once per week. (1998)
Findings are likewise with students. Before the Internet, students had to rely upon the availability of resources in the school or municipal library. They also had to trust that the information being shared by teachers was accurate and above reproach. As the Internet has become more readily available in school and home-life, students have had a much more robust resource opened to them. According to 2002 research conducted by Douglas Levin and Sousan Arafeh, 94 percent of 12-17 year olds who report using the Internet have used it for school research, and 71 percent used the Internet as the major source for their most recent school project. (2002)
When originally contacted for the week 1 assignment, Becky Christenberry, German teacher at Irving-Nimitz High School, replied that she wasn’t a “big fan” of the Internet, but she agreed to help. Having taught for 28 years, and also a former volleyball, cross country and track coack, Christenberry is not one of those stereotypical grousing teachers who simply shows up each day, sits a the desk, and collects a paycheck. Her drive to help students achieve is evidenced in her performance, and is evidenced in her acceptance and use of technological standards. For Christenberry, the ideal Internet resource she would design, if given the opportunity, would include interactive, language-use games. She would use such games for virtual trips to a German-speaking country where students have to interact using German. Fortunately for Christenberry, Second Life has already been invented. Education administrators just need to learn the potential for its application in order for it to be allowed in the classroom.
In week two, two networks were evaluated as to their usefulness for me in my current position. This was definitely a very helpful exercise in analyzing technology and determining it's applications for my duties. I've often heard older administrators seem to refer to technology as a thing to be loaded upon a child, or for teachers to plug in and all of a sudden they are successful.
"Too often school districts invest in technologies because of their high-tech, 21st century appeal without fully considering their impact on student learning and long-term total cost of ownership. The technology accelerators described here are neither particularly new nor innovative, but when combined with sufficient training and support, they will make a significant difference." (Matthews, 2004) I don't think of technology as a thing to be bought and used like deodorant or toothpaste, but the elements listed in this article are exactly the kind of expendable items that I believe our administrators often refer to.
These administrators often think of technology as wires, blinking lights, computers etc. The accelerators referenced in this article are necessary to make technology work, but they are not the whole of technology. As the article states, "...when combined with sufficient training and support..." These are the key words of success with technology. School districts have to provide the infrastructure of technology as well as the training and support in order for technology to be used successfully in the classroom. Technology isn't a thing to pick up and throw at a kid hoping they'll get it, technology is the sum of the parts necessary to make 21st century learning happen!
The week three assignment involved evaluating Irving ISD student information systems (SIS). One of the more "dry" assignments, this week did offer the opportunity to learn more about how student information is stored by our district and information is uploaded to the state. Since I didn't grow up in Texas and attend Texas public schools, I didn't have to take the standardized tests required of our students. It was interesting to learn how our district's pentamation department shares student data with the state, and how the student information system purchased by the district has to be compatible with state guidelines.
Learning this information also opened up the opportunity to learn the processes used by the district to train and certify employees on the SIS. When the system was purchased in 2000, the vendor provided initial traning. Since that time, training has been conducted for district personnel by district personnel.
Week four involved analyzing the 2009 K-12 edition of the Horizon Report and develop a vision of instructional technology for the next five years. My report involved collaborative environments, online communication tools, mobile devices, cloud computing, smart objects, the personal web, and infrastructure and safety. Ultimately I surmised that in five years the classroom will become more collaborative, will be more integrated with increasingly smaller portable and web-enabled devices, and will be more secure for students.
In doing this project, I was particularly interested in learning more about what the Horizon Report terms as the "personal web." Of particular interest in Web 2.0 was the use of widgets to personalize a users web experience. Widets can be used by students to create interactive, individualizeed instructional materials, discussion boards or calendar reminders. (Guess, 2008) Also through completing this project, I experienced for the first time what it means to visualize how the future of instructional technology will look based upon resources that are available at present.
The questions I have for future research include how students may make more use of their wireless handheld devices, such as smart phones and digital music and video players. More than laptops and netbooks being available, in the future it seems as though more students may arrive with personal handheld devices, or schools may find purchasing such devices more economical than laptops. These devices can be used to make podcasts, take notes, organize schedules and homework, use as classroom-response devices, and send text messages while collaborating with classmates. (Trotter, 2009) Future research can include shaping district acceptable use policies to account for students expanded use of such devices.
Finally, week in week five the assignment involved creating a multimedia presentation about the IISD Long Range Plan for Technology (LRPT). The analysis required for this presentation allowed me to gain an increased understanding of how our district plans for and implements technology in the classroom. Also included in the plan are the three-year goals for district technology.
It was interesting to note that the plan is required to obtain e-rate funding, and required as part of No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. The Irving ISD LRPT was created by a 52-member committee. The plan was created through a needs assessment from committee meetings, teacher and student surveys, staff development needs, and findings from the district and individual school STaR charts.
As a potential instructional technology facilitator, this document would be very helpful to keep me on task with regard to what the school and district planned to do in my field. As a technology leader, this document would help me identify the needs of the district as identified by the very people who use the technology on a daily basis. Since the IISD plan is developed largely through needs assessments and written by such a large committee, if I was the technology leader for my district, it would be very helpful for me and my department to allocate resources according to the real-world needs in the classroom.
Finally, this assignment represented a paradigm shift in my thinking toward how technology integrates into the classroom. The enstate of the IISD LRPT includes students being able to evaluate and apply information; think critically; problem solve; write for an authentic auidence; and become well-rounded in academics, fine arts and athletics. One would tend to believe that these functions were being met in traditional classrooms, instead of being part of an instructional technology plan. As we discussed in week two, many administrators believe technology is a thing to be used in a specific setting, then left when one moves to the next setting. However by analyzing the IISD Long Range Plan for Technology, one begins to see how technology is an integrated concept that helps to develop students accross the curriculum.
Becker, Henry Jay (1998). Internet Use by Teachers. Teaching, Learnnig, and Computing: 1998, A National Survey of Schools and Teachers. Retrieved January 2010 from http://www.crito.uci.edu/TLC/findings/internet-use/startpage.htm
Levin, D., & Arafeh, S. (2002). The Digital Disconnect. The Widening Gap Between Internet-Savvy Students and Their Schools. (2002)The digital disconnect. The widening gap between internet-savvy students and their schools. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from http://pewinternet.org/~/media/Files/Reports/2002/PIP_Schools_Internet_Report.pdf.
Mathews, J.B. (2004, April). Why statewide educational networks are important to state and educational leaders. Southern Regional Educational Board. Retrieved on November 17, 2009, from http://www.sreb.org/programs/EdTech/pubs/PDF/04T02-Statewide_Ed_Tech_Net_Important.pdf
Guess, A. (December 8, 2008) A Widget Onto the Future. Retrieved February 8, 2010 from http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2008/12/08/widgets
Trotter, A. (January 7, 2009) Students Turn Their Cell phones On for Classroom Lessons: New Academic Uses Challenge Restrictions. Retrieved February 8, 2010 from http://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2009/01/07/16cellphone.h28.html&levelId=2100
Irving ISD Long Range Plan for Technology, 2010-2013. (n.d.) Retreived February 10, 2010 from http://www.irvingisd.net/technology/documents/lrtp.pdf
Texas Long Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020. (December 2006) Retrieved February 12, 2010, from http://www.tea.state.tx.us/technology/etac