What issues were the most interesting for you and why?
It is clear across all articles in this book, that knowledge has not increased at the same rate as technology innovation has. New technology applications and platforms are being introduced faster that teachers and students have time to experiment with and dabble in. The important thing that Information Technology leaders in schools need to remember, is that it is not the quantity of technology or even the usage of current technology, but how it is helping the learners in the space. Just because a platform or software is new, doesn’t mean that it is the best thing to support students. There is no perfect delivery system, it depends on the individual what is going to work best.
“good usage is the usage that matches instruction and gets the best outcomes for students”
Something that really stuck out to me from one of the chapters was the idea that just because students are exposed to a lot of technology at home, we should not assume that because they are competent technology users. I have seen this first hand as a primary teacher. Students self-report extended technology access and programming at home. This usually entitles video games and YouTube. However, these applications do not help students develop skills to use technology appropriately. For the most part, they do not know how to type, do not know how to search information, use technology to make life easier, or what applications are outside of the gaming ones they are always on.
One thing that my district is quite interested in right now is assessment. As our curriculum in BC has changed, our assessment practices need to change as well. With the increase in technology, assessing the use of technology and using technology to assess has revolutionized assessment. As mentioned by one of the groups, assessment needs to be multifaceted. In our district, we have developed an assessment visual that shows the different things you need to consider when developing your assessments – insure its clear and intentional, timely and ongoing, inclusive, communicates student learning, and is a shared responsibility between student, teachers, and family.
Another aspect of technology that I found interesting was the use of game simulation to help solve real world problems. Students are building engagement through the use of this new approach and not only developing technology skills but also problem solving and collaboration skills. It is something very interesting in theory but something else in practice I think. I was in one of our Grade 6/7 classes last week doing coverage and I decided to bring in something fun. I decided to have the students do a Breakout EDU game. I made quite a few assumptions before bringing it into the class – such as, they had knowledge of breakout games and that they had strong problem solving and persistence. I was quickly shown otherwise. Students were quickly frustrated when the instructions did not tell them exactly what to do. And they did very little to move closer to the answer. I had to start providing hints in order to get them re-engaged and successful. For next time, I will ensure I start with an easier activity and maybe do one as a whole group before having them engage in small group work.
Technology is an interesting concept in elementary classrooms. There are so many opportunities to provide students in order to develop curricular and core competencies, however, it’s hard to know what is best.
Which issues have implications for you in your own personal situation (both in your current position and in your current research topic for your MEd project.?
I am coming to understand this more and more. I originally thought of my job as constantly bringing in new things to staff to explore. But that can be extremely overwhelming, especially for those staff members that are already uncomfortable with technology and are hesitant to change their ways. I am coming to the realization that instead, it is important that teachers feel that they have input, time to practice, and support from other teachers and admin in the building. Trevor and I’s chapter was all about Educational Leadership in the field of IT. The main message was about how to create the space for optimal learning and growing and how to foster that as a leader within a school staff.
This means spending time having discussions as staff about our pedagogy and values around technology in education. Until you do that, as a leader, you will not have a solid understanding of where the staff are coming from and will not be able to choose new technology initiatives that fulfill the schools needs, wants, and goals.
It’s also important as a leader, to understand what the possible factors for disruption there are, in order to mitigate as many as we can. There can be a lack of time given to staff to experiment and play with technology before bringing it into their classroom. As a result, there is a lack of experience which leads to being uncomfortable. And we all know that no teacher wants to teach from a place of discomfort. In addition, depending on what generation you grew up in – you may have more or less risk tolerance and self-help strategies when it comes to technology. Availability is a huge factor as well at schools around the world. It is a rarity that all students have access to a device. Therefore, it’s important to have some supplemental devices and activities that do not need to be completed online. And access to funds could either help or hinder this. In many schools in my districts, there are strong PAC’s which raise a lot of money to help buy and maintain technology. Whereas in other schools, that is not always the case. There is also the agendas of stakeholders to keep in mind. When technology is introduced to a school or a district, there are usually already agendas that administrators have before presenting. It’s difficult to get buy-in from teachers when it is an initiative that is being done to them and for them instead of with/alongside them.
One thing that I really liked from the K-12 Tech Usage Report linked below, was the Batavia district strategy in regards to technology integration. It consists of 3 levels:
- Core materials that get widespread use
- Supplemental materials for remediation or enrichment
- Materials that might just meet an individual school/student/teacher need *these are few and far between and often transition into the second section
This provides a good way to categorize technology apps and usage with staff in a way that is clear.
Something I would like to learn more about, connected to my M.Ed project:
- How to use technology to enhance assessment – especially when job sharing/have multiple teachers?
- How to use technology to share the learning that is going on in my classroom/community through digital portfolios for primary students?
- Where is the balance between technology use in classrooms and place-based learning outdoors? What skills can we develop with the use of the one over the other? Or both?
- How to harness students experience with social media/technology to share their outdoor learning experiences? (YouTube? Class Instagram? FreshGrade?)
- Voogt, G. Knezak, R. Christensen, & K-W, Lai (Eds.) Second Handbook of Information Technology in Primary and Secondary Education, pp. 3-12. Springer International Handbooks of Education. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-71054-9]