Thursday, June 23, 2011

I Made It! Reflections from my first Master's course: Concepts of Educational Technology

Reflection #1:
As I complete my last week of EDLD 5306, I am pleasantly surprised at how much I actually enjoyed being a student again!  As far as what outcomes I expected from the course, I knew I wanted to learn more about how to integrate technology into the classrooms.  And this course gave me so many simple, yet effective ways to do that.  I also wished for affirmation, I suppose, on my belief of the importance of technology integration.  I found myself, so often, shaking my head “yes” to the articles I was reading and the videos I watched.  I actually learned so much more than I envisioned.  It wasn’t just about simple tools to use, but also about things that benefit a technology leader: online safety, data assessment, ethics, public relations.  I am so pleased that the actual outcomes not only aligned with what I envisioned; they exceeded my expectations.

Reflection #2:
The course outcomes are definitely relevant to the work I will be doing.  I have the awesome opportunity to split my day between teaching and performing duties as a campus technologist.  So, not only will I be assisting teachers in the integration of technology, I will be able to practice the same concepts within my own classroom!  What better way to determine whether a specific technology is applicable and effective than to use it with my own students.  I believe this will benefit me and my position because I will be able to evaluate the appropriateness of the concept along with the teachers using the same concept.  It will also help me iron out any issues that might arise to save others time and frustration.  I also believe that my principal will look to me to assist her in encouraging technology integration because of the research and data the course provided.

Reflection #3:
I suppose I was looking for a “quick fix” for technology integration.  So many teachers (I used to be one of them) believe using a PowerPoint for a lesson or having students type an essay using a word processing software is integrating technology.  While this is definitely a beginning, I was hoping to find a way to help our teachers begin integrating technology into every lesson, every day.  Fortunately, I learned some tools to begin not only using, but also sharing, immediately.  But probably more importantly, this course taught me that it will take time to fully integrate technology into each and every classroom because technology integration is not just the use of technology -- it also involves something even bigger:  it will require a mind-set change (and stepping out of a comfort-zone) on the part of teachers to begin implementing collaborative learning where technology use is its most effective. 

Reflection #4:
While I was successful in carrying out all of the assignments, I definitely endured some frustration.  My login information didn’t come until Tuesday evening. Gone were 4 days of working on the assignment.  It was the last week of school for us, so an event every night took away the rest of those weekdays.  On Saturday morning, our family left for a nine-day vacation.  Luckily, we had wifi at our first destination.  When I went to submit (albeit last-minute!), error message.  It finally submitted.  At our second destination, we had “free wifi” but it was awful! So, I purchased an AT&T MiFi, and had issues using it with my MacBook. I made a desperate last minute dash 20 miles to the nearest HotSpot to join the required web conference. Yikes!
Other than a Java upgrade I needed to see my Animoto video, everything since the first two weeks has been great!

Reflection #5:
I am a Guardian!  At least according to Keirsey’s Temperament Sorter. I try to do what’s right while staying within established parameters.  This will help me in dealing with others who may fall into a different temperament. I also learned that my MIs are interpersonal, kinesthetic, and finally self/intrapersonal.  While I agree with the first two, I don’t necessarily agree with the last because I don’t prefer the trial/error approach to learning new things.  
My strong leadership skills are organization and communicating, but I need to learn about resolving conflicts and project budgeting. Technology is my strongest area, but I could use some help in understanding the differences between and the fees involved with freeware, shareware, and commercial software and which site licenses our school holds.  I also need to learn more web publishing skills, and, thanks to EDLD 5306, I have learned more about Web 2.0 tools!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Technology Plan and E-Rate

The presentation will show our current Technology Plan -- which is based upon the Texas STaR Chart data -- as well as explain E-Rate and how these elements tie together.

Click on this link to view the presentation:

National Educational Technology Plan

The Obama Administration has developed a plan to enhance technology education.  This ambitious plan has, by plan’s end, 60% of the population holding at least a 2-year degree. The plan breaks down the goals into several major focal-areas:  Learning, Assessment, Teaching, Infrastructure, Productivity, and Research & Development.  While goals are stated in these areas, there are also recommendations and lists of the roles of government.
In the area of Learning, the push seems to be for life-long learners.  It also touches on the fact that not all learners will learn effectively in the same way.  According to Howard Gartner’s Multiple Intelligences theory assessment that I completed last week, I’d have to agree!
For Teaching, it seems that the Plan is in support of providing whatever means necessary for teachers to implement technology into their classrooms to build those 21st Century learners.  Also mentioned is the fact that the teachers need to be prepared/taught just as the students do. And this learning needs to continue in various forms -- not just staff development provided locally, but allowing the creation of teacher connections so that teachers can learn from each other.
It is suggested that schools prepare themselves for the new wave of technology and learners.  While budgets may be tight, suggestions are made for free/inexpensive ways to enhance technology, for example, open-source software.
Ultimately, the goal is to produce more than just graduates of higher education, it’s to produce Americans who can continue to learn so that we can continue to compete globally.

Our Technology Plan

The District’s technology plan encompasses four goals so that school employees, students and members of the community can work to “master technology skills (p. 3).” 
Goal #1 is to ensure that the district’s technology is a fundamental part of the total education process.  Objectives 1, 4, and 5 focus on how the plan will assist teachers in reaching the goal.  Objectives 2, 3, and 6 target students and community members.
Goal #2 has the district providing an infrastructure to meet the district’s needs.  Objective 1 focuses on maintaining current equipment and upgrading as needed while Objective 2 provides a safe environment (Internet use) for all.
Administrators are the focus of Goal #3 where the responsibility for integrating technology falls with them. The two objectives within this goal are for training administrators and providing teachers the technology needed to communicate.
Professional development for all teachers is addressed in Goal #4, and the only objective is to provide requested technology training.  The responsibility for offering any training falls with the superintendent, campus principals, and the technology director.  While there appears to be enough financial resources within the plan, the only mention of ensuring the time necessary for staff development is for offering summer training.
For evaluation/assessment, the plan uses items like TAKS results and teacher/administrator evaluations, but there is no mention on how to make mid-course corrections/enhancements as needed.  The total budget value sufficiently rises each of the three years of the plan to cover non-discounted elements.

Implementing Technology: Where Do We Start?

I was recently asked by a superintendent, “How would you start the process for integrating technology?”  My response included the fact that a school must first determine its needs -- what type of technology is needed? what type of training is needed? what do the students need to learn? Creating assessments targeting specific areas will give the information to begin integrating technology.
It’s rather easy to see the main advantage of technology assessments: a clear picture is painted of what the teachers and students do/do not know and what they feel comfortable in using.  Assessments can create a road map of exactly where a district needs to begin in terms of training its teachers to assist their students in learning and using technology.
On the other hand, assessments take time.  It is time consuming to, first of all, develop an assessment.  Luckily, there are assessments available for districts to use.  For example, teachers could take some online assessments including NetCorps ( Technology Literacy Self-Assessment, Lo Ti Digital-Age Survey (, and SETDA Teacher Survey. 
For software, districts could use (for both teachers and students) the pre-course assessments that come with textbooks that normally are used by teachers to assess where they should begin in their classes.
A district must understand where their teachers and students stand in terms of technology knowledge and skills.  Administrators and their teams cannot know where to begin with technology implementation if they do not have a grasp on what their teachers and students already know. 

1st Web Conference (Thursday)

Aside from the fact that my timing for vacation was poorly planned, in the end, it all worked out as I successfully joined the web conference on Thursday. As I sat in front of the AT&T store (the "free" wireless where we stayed was awful), I experienced some anxiety in the beginning because I could hear only a few, choppy words, but rested a bit easier when I realized it was not just me.  Finally, about 10 minutes into the conference, the sound was fully restored (at least most of the time).  
While I chose to not use video (remember, I was on vacation!) and audio but rather respond through chat, I did appreciate those who did -- it was nice to put a face with a name!  
Even though there were technical difficulties, I found the information to be helpful -- especially regarding the Internship. I will secure a mentor ASAP!