Thursday, February 19, 2009

Technology and Equity

Interesting discussion this evening facilitated by Steve Langford, CIO at Beaverton School District.  The concept of 3.8 students per computer being the national average seems amazing to me.  I consider our school to be in pretty good shape technology wise, and I'm certain we don't come even close to this number.  However, I do believe our richness is in how our building uses the technology we do have.  Each year more integration of technology into teaching and learning is taking place.  It has stepped beyond the word processing world.  We still have a long ways to go, but it's progress.

But does the use of technology get figured into the equity equation?  If you have a building full of "Robin's old teachers"  that don't want to use the technology anyway, should they be granted more "boxes",  just because the magic formula says they should?  I would like to see buildings do some prioritization activities on how they would use the technology and what is important to the building.  (in relationship to the building's vision and the district's)  This of course is assuming we still have funding for technology.  Maybe enough for those projector replacement bulbs this next year, at least.

But maybe if you replace one of "Robin's old teachers" with a new cheap teacher, (with enthusiasm, desire to use technology, and some teacher training on using technology in the classroom) the difference in salary could be made up for with some technology for the classroom/school.  Even a portion of this salary would provide some great technology.  These would be the catalysts to spread throughout.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Web sites in Review 2/12

I appreciated the opportunity (and guidance) to look at some pre-existing site web development sites.  In my brief review of them, they seem pretty straight forward and easy to use.  Somewhat limiting, though, when you compare them to the fancy websites.  I quickly found that I have nothing of interest to start my own web page.

Part 2 with Don Woodward, graphic designer, gave me some great things to think about when designing web pages.  I appreciated his examples and nonexamples and will continue to use this information to review our school and district website.  It seems so simple and obvious when he talked about it, but obviously it is missed by a lot of people.  Good stuff!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

WEB as a tool

Paul Navarre a web developer from net interaction spoke to us this evening about using the web as a tool.  I appreciated his comment of just considering it a tool, and not, as an educator trying to figure out how to use the technology in the classroom.  I do think in the beginning just learning a form of technology, if has to be much more intentional, though.  Once a person become more used to the tool, and more comfortable, it can more easily be incorporated into an instructional tool.  Soon it becomes the white board in the classroom.  In my own building, I have watched this evolution of document cameras and smart boards.  They are becoming second nature in many of the classrooms.

The use of the web as a communication tool is invaluable.  If you visit my school's web page and go to the 7th grade team, check out Mrs. Wood.  She has many examples that Paul was recommending.  The challenge, is parents comparing teachers.  "Why does Mrs. Wood have all this information on their web page, but no other teachers do?" The question for many teachers is finding the balance between enabling students and teaching responsibility.  Even our current world, with so much information available, I can't believe this is enabling.  A lot of work, yes, but not enabling.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

video technology and learning

Scott Hacke from Beaverton School District shared some great information about student video productions and how it has fit into learning.  One of these examples was the Signal-to-Noise contest and festival.  What a fabulous showcase and celebration of student learning.  The use of technology itself is often a source of motivation for students, but the addition of the contest portion adds another layer of motivation for students.  The competitive spirit comes through.

Video productions certainly provide an opportunity for students to demonstrate student learning.  Creativity is wide open and I'm sure products are produced that no one imagined possible from a student.

I think the actual production itself improves student learning in a variety of areas.  An individual couldn't produce these type of products without planning, organizational skills, and writing abilities.  Is there a correlation between successful video productions and successful students in other academic areas?  I imagine there would be, but only if there was student choice in demonstrating their knowledge.  Of course if the student is successful in this medium,  maybe they can have a future with this alone.  Something to ponder......

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Sugata Mitra on

This presentation comfirms where our students are today. Many of them need little direction to be able to figure out technology. For instance, how many of them do you think have read the instruction manual for their video games. (Do such things even exits anymore??!) They just start playing. Soon they are addicted experts working they way up the top of the video game pyramid. A little bit of exposure goes a long ways -self taught and they can figure it out.

Contrast this to adults. We have a lot to get in the way of learning technology. We have to be shown every step, every click, every button along the way. Many times we over analyze every step trying to figure out the right way to do something.

Is this just the nature of adults vs children? The "No Fear" factor? Maybe it's not just technology, but every aspect of life. Or is it the teaching an old dog new tricks philosophy?? Probably all of the above. I think everything else in life gets in the way of devoting time to understanding technology. The younger generation hasn't had their brain clogged yet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Technology love/hate relationship

Technology has provided access to so much more information. Personally, it has assisted in travel planning by researching as well as booking and finding the best bargains. Professionally, I have information easily attainable without as much work. For instance, tracking student assessment data is becoming faster and more detailed all the time. We are able to use this data to immediately inform instruction instead of waiting for the autopsy report after the fact. At a basic level is the cell phone itself. Just being able to communicated in open space is huge. Now adding all the other extras to it is amazing. (internet access, and others I don't even know about) Ease, access, new frontiers.....all things to love about technology. (where does shopping fit into this???? That's easier, too )

The frustrating part of technology is that I don't know enough to deal with things when they go wrong. While I can navigate through programs and do incredible things with data, if the basics of the computer go down, I'm lost. I don't believe it is anything you can keep up with either. Everyday there is more to learn. The only satisfying thing is that experts become frustrated, too.