School Evaluation

School Technological Evaluation

There are those who hear the term “private school”, and envision tweed uniforms, polo ponies, and snooty parents with over privileged children. Although, as we generally know, this is usually not the case. When I got a job at a private school that we will call “Town Academy” for the sake of this piece, I thought that I would be entering a school that was on the cutting edge of technology and educational tools. I myself went to a private school in Houston, Texas and it was a wonderful experience. However, when I went to work at Town Academy I was surprised to see that technologically speaking, the school was sorely lacking. I had previously taught at a public school in Florida that had all the latest technology, large classrooms, and plenty of tech help and support. That school however, had funds available from taxes and the “Adopt a Classroom” program. Town Academy depended on tuition and fundraisers. The technological evaluation made me realize where we were lacking and why.

Demographic: Private school in a rural area. School population was approximately 80% White and 20% Black, Asian, and Hispanic.

Administration

Policy
Behavioral – islands
Resource/infrastructure – islands
Planning
Behavioral – islands
Resource/infrastructure – emergent
Budget
Behavioral – islands
Resource/infrastructure – islands
Administration Information
Behavioral – islands
Resource/infrastructure – islands

Although there was technology available many did not utilize it. There was a policy in place and certain criteria such as having lesson plans that integrated technology, but it was never followed up on or enforced. As for planning, behavioral, was mainly an island since there was one administrator who really tried to integrate technology, but even then, it remained isolated to a certain subject and not across all subjects. The resource/infrastructure of planning was emergent since there was no formal plan for using technology. For the most part, the administration left it up to the teaching staff. There was a technology budget,  but it was mainly on paper. Most of the fundraising meant for technology would end up being used in part to build new classrooms. As for administration information, behavior and infrastructure is listed as an island. There are many resources that were used by the staff, but not on a regular basis.

Curriculum

Electronic Information
Behavioral – emergent
Resources/Infrastructure -islands
Assessment
Behavioral – islands
Resources/Infrastructure – islands
Curricular Integration
Behavioral – emergent
Resources/Infrastructure – emergent
Teacher Use
Behavioral – emergent
Resources/Infrastructure – emergent
Student Use
Behavioral – islands
Resources/Infrastructure – islands

Many of the educators at Town Academy did not know where to begin in using technology in the classroom. Many stuck to the notion they were from the “old school” and if it’s not broke don’t fix it.  The school had electronic resources available for teachers through Internet and one smart-board. Teachers had to plan way ahead of time to use the smart-board, but the Internet was readily available. Using technology for assessment was used, but mainly for reading in math. There was hardly any exploration in using technology is assessment. Any curriculum integration that went on depended completely on teacher interest and motivation. Many teachers were not able to see the relative advantage of using technology, and some simply did not understand how to integrate technology. As with integrating it in the curriculum, many were just unaware with how to use technology in their classroom.  Students knew how to use technology, but the access was limited. If there were computers for students to use in the classroom it was usually not connected to the Internet and it was hard to get slots in the library to use computers that were online.

Support

Stakeholder Involvement
Behavioral – islands
Resources/Infrastructure – emergent
Administrative Support
Behavior – islands
Resources/Infrastructure – islands
Training
Behavioral – emergent
Resources/Infrastructure – emergent
Technical/Infrastructure Support
Behavioral – emergent
Resources/Infrastructure – emergent

The next category deals with support. The stakeholder involvement is listed as an island in behavioral because they were beginning to understand the importance of technology and a push towards implementing it more. However the resources/infrastructure were emergent since no one really knew how to go about it. It was more talk than action at that point. The school leadership wanted a cutting edge school, but were not sure what all that entailed and believed that enlarging the physical school was more important. However, they were supportive in the use of technology.  There was no training in the use of technology. We would have professional development, but it dealt with how to implement student centered projects and work. Of course this is vital, but professional development never covered technology use. Each classroom usually has one computer that is connected to the Internet. Unfortunately, students are not allowed to have access to that computer. There was no formal training or a designated IT person.

Connectivity

LAN
Behavioral – Integrated
Resources/Infrastructure – Integrated
WAN
Behavioral – Integrated
Resources/Infrastructure – Integrated
Internet Access
Behavioral – Islands
Resources/Infrastructure – Integrated
Communication
Behavioral – Integrated
Resources/Infrastructure – Integrated

The LAN networks at the school both behavioral and resource/infrastructure were integrated in the schools. As well as for WAN networks. They were the main sources for communications between colleges and the leadership. Internet access resources were integrated and readily available for teachers and students if computers were available. During my time as a teacher there, the school went “wireless” which made it easier for teachers to bring laptops into the classroom and work with the Internet in a more mobile way. Behavior was labeled an island since many teachers were trying to learn how to integrate it into the classroom curriculum. Communication systems are also labeled as integrated both in behavior and in resources. The main form was mass and individual emails.

Innovation

New Technology
Behavioral – islands
Resources/Infrastructure – islands
Comprehensive Technology
Behavioral – islands
Resources/Infrastructure – islands

New technology as well as comprehensive technology are labeled an island both behavioral and resource/infrastructure. The administration began to really look into new technology, especially after they installed a smart board in the library and realized all the advantages for using it in the classroom. After the installation of the smart board, there were requests by more teachers and parents for such technology in the individual classroom.

Even though Town Academy did not have much in the way of technology, I don’t want it to seem like the school was bad academically. Kids were still challenged, and the school was going through a period of growth.  Parents were beginning to see the advantages of having technology integrated into curriculum, but have been slower pushing the topic because they feel like their children are getting an adequate education without it. With more teachers putting technology into their classroom, usually by using their own money, parents were hearing their children talk more about what was going on in the classroom and how engaging or “fun” it was to learn. When I arrived at the school, they were trying to move away from using worksheets and  having more project based learning. There is a lot to be said for that. I just hope that they continue to see the advantage of using technology in the classroom as well.

Advertisements

Edtech 501 Term Paper

Technology and the 21st Century Educator


        Education evolves with time.  It is vital that educational practices be reviewed and revamped when the need arises. For the 21st century, education has been ushered into the age of technology. Students in today’s classroom have been brought up with technology all around them. In order to engage the technologically saturated generation, educators must use what is relatable to their students. They must become 21st century educators in order to effectively instruct 21st century learners. If educators are trained to create a authentic learning experience for their students, students will in turn take ownership and create a deeper meaning in their learning. Technology can improve classroom activities, assessment and differentiation when used in conjunction with effective Teacher training.

       Technology gives teachers a way to engage students like never before. Of course it helps keep a student’s attention and makes class more interesting, but the most important advantage of using technology in the classroom is how technology can help relate a topic to the “real world”. Technology is everywhere everyday, especially for the youthful demographic. Students in today’s classroom are being raised in a technological era. Technology is their reality, and by bringing it into the classroom, we are bringing in the world around them.

        In the journal article entitled “Technology and Classroom Practices”, it discusses the findings of research done on the effects of technology in the classroom. The research showed that in classrooms, which use technology effectively, the students collaborated and searched on their own how to solve problems. This higher order thinking skill is the “holy grail” of education. It is a crucial skill to help students will their future success in their educational careers. They would pick their own tasks, which show they are taking control of their own learning. Creativity and communication as well not only improves among students but teachers as well.

        The Internet is everywhere, and there is more opportunity than ever to make the most out of planning lessons. That is not to say that technology should be integrated in every single lesson. If a lesson works and the desired effect is achieved without technology, it may be best to leave the technology out of it. If there is a lesson that does not have the desired effect or the students are not engaged and get nothing out of it, then technology could be the answer to make it more effective. In the article, “Integrating Technology in Teaching and Teacher Education: Implications for Policy and Curriculum Reform” it touches on how important implementing technology into the classroom is crucial since it is everywhere outside of the classroom. The article is discussing how important it is in schools all over the world to incorporate technology.  Technology allows for more effective peer teaching opportunities among students. Peer teaching is more prevalent in classrooms with technology, which in turn creates a more authentic learning experience.

        Not only is creating activities involving activities important, but technology use in assessment is as equally crucial. Immediate feedback is important to the development and understanding of students. The faster a student can receive feedback, the quicker corrections to learning can be made. Not only summative and formative, but across standards and benchmarks, which will create a more conducive learning environment. It helps the teacher as well see where adjustments need to be made for students. It helps them to realize what needs to be retaught before too much time has passed to make the assessment irrelevant.

       Teachers realize that assessment is not only for the students, but for themselves, as well. If there is an assignment that a single student or a group of students have problems with, then the Teacher can step back a figure out if it is the student who needs reinforcement, if the lesson needs to be retaught as a group, or if the lesson needs to be scrapped altogether and the concept in question should be taught in a different manner. All of this can happen in a short span of time instead of days. Being able to reteach or correct a student while the concept is fresh in their mind is reason enough to integrate technology into the classroom. The article, “Perspectives on Integration of Technology and Assessment” asserts that the new era of assessment is learning-centered. Technology improves on the quality of tasks presented to students. It will only get better in the future.

        Another important benefit to using technology in the classroom is individual instruction. When educators discuss the benefits of technology they use word such as “authentic” and “personal”. One of the hardest things to accomplish as a Teacher, especially if there is a large class size, is differentiation. It is hard to focus on one or two students needs when there could be 30 plus students to teach. With technology, using online tools such as tutorials and games help those students who need extra time and more review that a teacher may not have the time for. At least not without taking away from the other students. It works the other way as well. Gifted students sometimes get overlooked and not challenged enough so they are never able to meet their full potential. Technology by being a creative outlet for gifted students. Online activities can help gifted students to extend on a concept and help them take it further.

      Technology has allowed differentiation to go even further, through a still new concept of online schools. Now a 21st century educator has the choice of where to work, a choice that Teachers have never had before. Use to Teachers worked in a classroom, and that was the only option. Now Teachers can work from anywhere and there is a flexibility that has never been there before. In the article, “Schools That Technology Built: Evaluation of a Program to Train Teachers for Virtual Schooling” online education and teacher preparation are the topic. The article comments that upside for student is that online schools can be the answer to students who struggle in a more traditional class setting. It also has a flexibility that some families may require or want. It is also a great tool for parents who home school. Their children work with certified teachers and parents feel more confident knowing that standards are getting met. For this reason demand for these types of educational institutions are on the rise. With this new avenue of schools, the realization is dawning that Universities have to take another look at how they are currently training soon to be teachers. Teacher education must evolve as well to keep up with the growing integration of education and technology.

     As stated in the article by Roblyer and Davis discusses the importance of re approaching how Universities education up and coming Teachers. The argument is that technology should become a requirement for all education majors and not just an elective. This way, if the Teachers are prepared, they can then prepare their students for life in the technological era. The authors believe that Teachers should receive hands on training as well as go into the classroom for hands on training with technology. According to the article, there are many Universities that have already started implementing technology into their education curriculum as a requirement They assert that in order for teachers to understand how to use technology properly in their own classroom when they get one, they need to see how it is done out in the field. Doing this, according to the authors will ensure that graduates know how to implement technology in the classroom in the most effective way possible and to prepare them for the future role of technology in education.

Success using technology in the classroom must start with Teacher training meaning both up and coming Teachers and those who have been in the classroom for any length of time. In an article entitled, “Can Teacher Technology Integration Training Alone Lead to High Levels of Technology Integration?” it states that most of the time training deals more with administration and less about how to use it as part of the curriculum. The paper states that 58% of teachers still do not use technology in the classroom and that after “training” the number does not improve by much.                                                             This asserts that it is not the lack of training, but the type of training. Teachers need the type of training that makes technology use both relevant and authentic to them, terms that are used when describing using technology for student learning. If the type of training used can’t convince teachers who teach core subjects, how can it be used to any success in the classroom? It makes sense, that like classroom assignments, technology training for teachers need to be geared to be more individualized. One solution could be for more schools should have a full-time technology coordinator who is able to show teachers how to use technology in the classroom. If more technology is to be used by teachers in all subject areas, there must be better training geared toward making it more relevant and personalized so that teachers can see the benefits and how it can apply to their classroom. Otherwise, it will be viewed as another thing they have to do and another standard that needs covering.

In order to create 21st century students, we must have 21st century teachers. Technology helps students and teachers create an individualized and authentic learning environment. Through immediate feedback, students can correct learning sooner and more effectively. Technology also can help in differentiation in the classroom as well as through online schools. With proper and relevant training, teachers will be able to use technology effectively and appropriately in their classrooms. They will have the understanding that only when used in conjunction with standards can it reach its full potential to create a technological savvy student. Teachers must remember that the goal for technology use is to enhance what is already there, not to replace it.

References

Brush, T., Brinkerhoff, J., Igoe, A., K, Heng-Yu, K., & Smith, C. (2003). Lessons from
the field: Integrating technology into pre-service teacher education. Arizona
State University, 16.

Davis, N., & Roblyer, M. (2005). Preparing teachers for the  “schools that technology
built”: Evaluation of a program to train teachers for virtual schooling. Journal
of Research on Technology in Education, 37(4), 399-409.

Pellegrino, JW, & Quellmalz, E. (2010). Perspectives on integration of technology and
assessment.  Journal on Research of Technology in Education, 43(2), 119-134.

Kozma, R. (2003). Technology and classroom practices: an international study.
Journal of Research on Technology in Education (1523-1539), 36(1), 1.

Vrasidas, C., & McIsaacs, M. (2001). Integrating technology in teaching and teacher
Education: Implications for policy and curriculum reform. Educational Media
International (0952-3897), 38(2), 127.

Professional Learning Network Plan

Summary of PLN Plan

I cannot write about a current PLN because there is none. For the future, I hope that I get a chance to implement such a plan to a school that is waffling with technology, much like the one where I taught. The participants are everyone from the school leadership to the community to the students. Everyone has to be involved in order for it to be a success. There are three phases: Phase 1 will last three months for organizing and planning, phase 2  will also last about 3 month to procure funding and organize budget plan, and phase 3 will last three to six months to implement plans, assess and adjust. All of the length of these phases are estimates it could move faster or slower depending on outside variables.

The most important thing after budgeting for teachers to receive proper training on how to utilize technology in the classroom effectively through professional development and practice in the classroom. Teachers should be assessed to make sure they are using technology in an effective way. This will be difficult since some will utilize it more than others, and since I feel that technology is not needed for every lesson. There are many effective teachers that do not use technology at all, and I would not want them discouraged. This is why some leniency should be given here along with feedback and modeling if needed.

After creating a PLN plan, I was really able to see how important planning technology use is. In everything there is a need for a game plan and this is no exception.
Without one, there can be no way to assess how well the technology is enhancing learning. I realized how important it is to let everyone know what is expected them and what their role is. It is also important to lay out a time line to help all of the participants stay on track and also be able to see how far they have come.