Technology Use Plan

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Technology Use Plan: A Narrated Production

This project gave me an opportunity to take a deeper look at the planning process that is required when an educational entity is looking to develop a plan for technology implementation.  I found all the steps are very important to establish a clear goal or objective when beginning a technology plan in a school.

One of the most important reasons for organizing a thoughtful plan, is for accountability.  Technology plans will require schools to invest in expensive equipment, software, or web-based services.  This type of expense needs justification.  Therefore, the team of staff will set the foundation for the use of a technology plan, which will be followed by many others in the school.

Of course, the greatest objective lies in how it will benefit students and their ability to contribute to society.  A technology plan requires many steps prior to putting it in the hands of students for practical use.  The team will determine the appropriate technology, the area of focus, and the best way to train staff for the purpose of using a technology plan.  Once all of this established, the students can use technology to develop their own skills for learning.

As I considered the personal benefit of this project, I copied the following AECT standards that I believe are satisfied by the outcome.

  • 1.1.3.b Demonstrate personal skill development with at least one: computer authoring application, video tool, or electronic communication application.
  • 2.0.7 Contribute to a professional portfolio by developing and selecting a variety of productions for inclusion in the portfolio.
  • 2.1.3 Use presentation application software to produce presentations and supplementary materials for instructional and professional purposes.
  • 2.2.4 Use a variety of projection devices with appropriate technology tools to facilitate presentations and instruction.
  • 2.3.2 Design, produce, and use digital information with computer-based technologies.
  • 2.4.7 Use appropriate software for capturing Web pages, audio wave files, and video files for developing off-line presentations.
  • 3.0.1* Assess, analyze and design a media facility for optimal use and functionality to support contemporary educational goals of the school media program.
  • 3.3.3 Identify strategies to maintain use after initial adoption.
  • 3.4.1 Identify and apply standards for the use of instructional technology.
  • 4.1.1 Apply project management techniques in various learning and training contexts.
  • 5.4.2* Develop and update a long-range strategic school media program plan.
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Technology Use Planning Overview

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“Bob, I’ve called you in this morning because our company is falling behind in efficiency.”  Bob feels a cold shrill down his spine and suddenly sits a little more straight in the chair across from his boss.  He quickly gives an awkward response, “Well sir……, I believe if you give me a chance, I can show you that I can be more efficient in my work.”  Slowly a smile appears on the face of the boss.  “Relax Bob!  The problem is not with you or any other employees, it’s the company equipment and resources.  They are outdated and we need to revamp in order to compete.”  Bob shows a sigh of relief and leans back a little more in his chair.  “How can I help sir?”   The boss gives him a print out.  “I need you to put together a proposal for what new technology we can implement in our processes and production.”  He points to a number and continues, “This is your one time budget but I want you to also give me an idea what will be needed for long term maintenance.  Get the department heads together to get input from them.  Meet me back here next week, same time, so we can discuss your proposal.”

This scenario is imaginary, but it is a reality for many and one day, most likely, I will be given a similar task.  However, since I work in the field of education,  would my situation be very different?  Do school administrators tend to measure with efficiency, or are they more focused on results?  If students are the product and the education is the process, then who or what would be our market?  How far do we want to take this metaphoric comparison?  According to the National Educational Technology Plan 2010, in terms of technological advancement, the education sector is encourage to learn from the business and entertainment sectors of American society.  Therefore, my purpose with this entry is to begin to explore the considerations when the education sector wants to make a technology plan.

Which way to we go?

This week’s assignment focuses on a written response to reading assignments that relate to education forming a technology plan.  The readings range from objectives at the national level to putting a plan in place at the district or school level.  Two of the readings that we were asked to give more attention are: “Developing Effective Technology Plans” by John See and the before mentioned U.S. Government document “The National Educational Technology Plan 2010” (NETP 2010).  My professor, Dr. Schroeder, asked us to consider the following questions in our response.

  1. Start with defining technology use planning–how would you describe it?
  2. How might the new National Educational Technology Plan 2010 be an effective and powerful resource for technology use planning?
  3. Do you agree with See about tech use plans needing to be short, not long term?
  4. What do you think about his comment that “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology?”
  5. Do you agree/disagree?
  6. What experiences have you had with technology use planning and what have you seen for outcomes (both good and bad?)

After reading several resources regarding technology use planning,  I believe that I have been exposed enough to understand it, but at the same time I have discovered that it is a daunting task.  In my own words I would describe technology use planning as a research and information sifting approach to purchasing and implementing technologies to the education process.  At the heart of the matter is the money.  Districts and schools are given budgets for purchasing the necessary products to help create a learning environment.  Of course the goal of education has remained the same for the most part, preparing students to be able to contribute to society.  Therefore, since much of our society has taken to many technological trends, it is only logical that the schools should apply these trends.  However, many people believe that the schools have struggled to keep up with the rest of society.

The NETP 2010 is a broad document which sets goals for many levels of the education system.  Because it is a national document, some of the goals are beyond what one district can do.  As school administrators begin to look at their own need to implement technology as a tool in the curriculum, they could use bits and pieces of this document to guide them to a specific goal.  Some of the goals mentioned in the NETP 2010 are so radical to the current approach to education, that implementing them would likely require authorization higher than a school administrator.  Suggestions such as changing how the schools see student seat time and 24/7 access to education are hard to fathom for many, because it goes against a long established structure.  So as progressive teachers and administrators face resistance to change, they can use this government document as a means of information for the leery or a stronghold against the resistance.

John See, Technology Integration Specialist for the Minnesota Department of Education, wrote “Developing Effective Technology Plans” which was a journal entry published in 1992 in “The Computing Teacher”.  Ironically, despite being almost 20 years old, this writing has brought much attention to time sensitivity for making technology plans.  The principal basis for his statement, “Technology plans are short-term not long-term” is that technology is changing at such a fast pace that any district should be careful not commit to something on a long-term basis, considering that it could be an inferior product in a relatively short amount of time.  Even though it is a good point and in many ways is still relevant today, I don’t agree completely with what See wrote back then.  One reason is that in the last 20 years, technology products have been careful to develop timeless standards in their products that are either compatible with later versions or they can be updated to perform with newer technologies.  Another logical reason administrators should consider in making plans longer, is you will get more bang for the buck.  Companies would be more willing to offer deeper discounts for longer term contracts as well as they are more likely to negotiate maintenance services in the contract.  However, I do agree with See on the matter of reviewing, at least once year, the technology plan.  However, If a technology is found to be outdated, there is a strong likelihood that the company is already aware of it and may have developed a software base upgrade.  Schools can also negotiate with the company regarding on going developments and upgrades.  Most companies would welcome this if it means a prolonged business relationship with the school.  One study done at the Round Rock School District in Texas, shows these benefits as well as others, taken from their exclusive and long-term relationship with Dell Computers.

John See makes another good point when he says “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology.”  It is hard to say if technology has become more or less standardized in the time since See wrote this article.  It seems just as true today as back then when he suggests that different brands offer different features.  However, market demands have required the companies to innovate in order to keep up with the competition, or to make switch over components so that one product works on another system.  Regardless, I don’t want to loose sight of See’s most important point.  What do you want the students to accomplish with the technology plan?  Many administrators and teacher feel the pressure to provide technology to the students based on what they see in society and even in other schools, yet it does not mean that they necessarily understand how students will apply the use of technology.  I agree with See that it is important to identify the output goal in a technology plan, but in most cases it ultimately comes down to each individual teacher feeling comfortable enough using the technology in order to gauge the students on the application and use of it.  According to a study done by Research in Higher Education, teacher attitude can affect the implementation of teaching with technology.  One indicator is that teachers are less likely to engage in online interaction if they have not had a chance to test it out first.

At this point in time, I have not yet been asked to participate directly in the formation of a technology plan for a school.  However, I have had the interesting perspective of working in both private international schools and public schools within the USA.  In all the cases of international private schools, I have been told that I can make requests for resources but I have not been offered a budget to purchase them on my own.  Also, in the private schools I found that students already had access to important technologies that they could use to engage in the lessons.  However, one school discouraged the use of technology in the core subject classrooms because they were concerned with cheating.  In the other school, where I am currently, so far school policy has not stopped me from encouraging students to use computers and mobiles as part of the learning process.  On the other hand, when I worked with the public school in the USA, I was given a meager budget and I was encouraged to spend it as I chose.  Unfortunately, the amount was not substantial enough to purchase technology to put in the hands of the students.  Even when I bought software, the district limited and discouraged downloading it. In addition, I worked with a demographic of students that were most affected by digital divide and digital inequality.

Based on my experience, I do agree with the NETP 2010, when it says that the education sector can learn from the business and entertainment sectors in terms of technology use, but especially with resource spending.  When I first came into the public education sector, I had been working in the business sector.  One of the first things that caught my eye was the lack of control on the use of resources, especially print resources.  I had the task of sifting through resources that were purchased in recent years but now were unused.  I don’t doubt that the teachers had good uses for these resources, but I also knew that the costs for mass use of these resources was astronomical and in my heart I believed that there were more efficient alternatives.  Eventually I assimilated to the system and found myself doing the same thing.  When I was given a budget I often was caught up in purchasing whims, usually to satisfy a short-term goal.  Now that I am not there, I am sure that some of those resources are in the darkest part of a teacher’s storage cabinet.   I believe it is a dilemma that is not easily solved.  I know teachers need to have input in what is purchased because they are going to measure the students on how well they use it, but perhaps they need more guidance or training in resources that come from the administration.  At the same time it can lead to wasteful spending if teachers are given items that later are hardly used.  Worse yet, as a teacher, I have purchased items because it looks useful, but it gets little use because administrative goals or school policy limits its use.  Now, more than before, it is imperative that schools look at efficient use of their budgets and practical long-term uses of their purchases, like most businesses do.   John See, gave support as well to the idea that schools can learn from the entertainment sector.  He mostly encouraged teachers to consider using technology for students to create a final product, however the learning will take place during the process.  When we see entertainment’s final product, we don’t always understand all the work that went into it.  By using the approach that See recommends, students will understand that there is much to be done in order to reach a final product, and in most cases, learning will take place in the process.

Resources
  • National Education Technology Plan 2010 | U.S. Department of Education. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2011, from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010
  • National Center for Technology Planning. (n.d.). Retrieved November 5, 2011, from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
  • McLester, S. (2011). TCO and technology standardization. District Administration, 47(1), 18.
  • Tabata, L., & Johnsrud, L. (2008). The impact of faculty attitudes toward technology, distance education, and innovation. Research In Higher Education, 49(7), 625-646. doi:10.1007/s11162-008-9094-7

This entry meets the following AECT standards:

2.0.6 Use the results of evaluation methods and techniques to revise and update instructional and professional products.

3.0.1* Assess, analyze and design a media facility for optimal use and functionality to support contemporary educational goals of the school media program.

3.1.1 Identify key factors in selecting and using technologies appropriate for learning situations specified in the instructional design process.

3.2.1 Identify strategies for the diffusion, adoption, and dissemination of innovations in learning communities.

4.0.2* Establish mission, goals and objectives of the school media program that align with and support those of the local school district and community.

4.1.2* Use knowledge of school, district, state, regional, and national organizations to support efficient and effective operations in contemporary school media programs.

4.2.3* Prepare and justify a budget that supports standards-based curricula and that provides necessary resources to ensure the success of the school media program.

5.4.2* Develop and update a long-range strategic school media program plan.

Horizon Report Tech Trend

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Recently, my web-classmates compiled a list of available technology to use in the classroom.  Each of the suggestions listed were aligned with one of six technology trends listed in the 2011 “Horizon Report”:  electronic books, mobiles, augmented reality, game-based learning, gesture-based computing, and learning analytics.  Among the list of technologies, one in particular captured my attention as a potential technology tool that would promote whole student involvement and assessment in real time.  The technology I chose to plan a lesson around was “Poll Everyone”.

Of course, when planning a lesson it is more practical to plan within the current line of study of the students.  I have an 8th grade class, with whom I am discussing details of a student novel version of “Macbeth” by William Shakespeare.  Normally, when I pose a question to the group, there are a few factors that will not allow me to see who is and is not comprehending.  Usually, there are a few students that are overly eager to answer the question, while several other students appear indifferent, or simply did not understand and won’t speak out.  So I began to explore the use of Poll Everyone, a web based service, which would allow me to use mobile technology, which most of the students carry.  This would allow multiple students to answer the questions and perhaps they would not feel intimidated in responding, for fear of being wrong in front of everyone.

Poll Everyone is a layered service, meaning that there are more features if you are willing and able to pay.  Basically, the free service allows you to pose a question to the group and display it on the class screen.  The students will be given sufficient time to search for the proper response.  Once they have their answer ready, they have instructions on the screen for how to send their response via their mobile.  The question can be multiple choice or open ended. As students respond to the question, the responses begin to appear on the screen.  Up to 30 responses are accepted.

As I was organizing the lesson, I learned many useful details about Poll Everyone.  For example, it is supported in many countries around the world, but there are several countries that cannot access the service due to mobile service agreements.  Fortunately, Saudi Arabia is one of the countries that supports the feature.  The free service offered by Poll Everyone has many limitations.  In order to access features such as response identity, additional responder space,  grade reporting, and response segmentation, a money subscription would be necessary.  They have plans for individual teachers for $50 and they will negotiate school-wide and district-wide plans as well.

This lesson plan called “Poll Everyone on Macbeth” gives an idea how this can be used in the classroom.

Ethics in Writing Assignments

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The previous video was made as part of an assignment to address the issue of plagiarism.  Throughout this assignment I found myself in a tug-a-war between the teacher perspective, taking a necessary stand against cheating, and the student perspective, the frustrating second guessing in order to avoid unintentional plagiarism.

I suppose that my perspective as a student is based on my values, which were established in me through my environment and moral compass.  When it comes to cheating, I don’t look at it as an option.  I’m not afraid of the consequences of getting caught because it never really crosses my mind to cheat in the first place.  Even in the high stakes of “No Child Left Behind” and how the student performance directly  affects my teacher rating, I have not considered trying to taint the results.  However, not all students think alike so I understand that protecting against plagiarism is very important, though it may be tedious at times.

As a teacher, my view point is also skewed by my environment.  Mostly I have worked with students in upper elementary and middle school and who are English language learners.  Many of these students really struggle in developing their own voice for written expression.  Due to this, I have intentionally tried to develop the assignments which make it very difficult for students to simply copy text, and yet the assignments usually aren’t very deep. None the less, I have those students that attempt to copy something and turn it in as their own.  It irks me to see this, but fortunately it doesn’t take me that long to spot it.  Most of the time I have no trouble accusing them of turning something in that they didn’t write, but I do have to proceed with caution by giving them options to re-do the assignment.

I find some of the statements about plagiarism to be threatening to my good intentions, especially when it comes to the ambiguous wording.  Statements such as “rewording the author content” is very confusing to me.  Obviously when I do research, I will read someone’s writing in order to collect enough information to give an account of the matter.  Once I began to piece my words together, I have to be careful that it doesn’t say too much of what the author has written.  I suppose I could just cite his or her work, as long as I don’t use too much of what the author has said.  I do recall in college, while taking a news media class, the professor showed us how to use the news feeds that came from the Associated Press.  Our job was to reword the news story so that it could be considered our own and presented as a radio news broadcast.  I don’t recall any references or citation required for this assignment.

I expect that over the next 2 years I will be researching and writing papers related to the field of education, especially educational technology.  I welcome the challenge to sharpen my writing skills and even my research skills.  With the help of useful internet technologies, citations will be much easier than previously, so I hope that lack of citation will be a non-issue for me.

What is the Digital Divide?

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This is an information campaign video made by Internet for Everyone.  I used parts of this video in a team project for the Digital Inequality Assignment.  This is the full video version.

Digital Inequality Assignment

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Recently, my Beta group of Ed Tech 501 completed a collaborative project regarding the difference between digital divide and digital inequality.  Prior to this assignment, I was unfamiliar with both terminologies.  In preparation for the assignment I studied Dr. Barbara Schroeder’s online lecture regarding the matter.  I also did additional research on the internet and discovered some helpful information as well because there are active groups in society that are evaluating the effect and solutions of digital divide and digital inequality.  Among these groups are The Greenlining Institute and Internet for Everyone.

I also read about internet usage around the world.  Since I have had the opportunity to travel to different places in the world these statistics were of particular interest.  This issue of digital inequality is not only being addressed in the United States but it is an issue that many local and federal governments are considering because of the internet’s role in society and economy.  Many countries are taking steps to increase accessibility to the internet.  I have seen it in the state of Queretaro, Mexico, which decided to install free public access to the internet in city plazas and parks.  According to Taringa, an Argentinian publication, the Argentine government is implementing a similar strategy at the national level.

With all this new information I was able to see that there is a legitimate concern within the local and global societies concerning the individuals that have access or knowledge of digital technologies.  However, I also discovered that there are no easy solutions because it is not always a matter of physical resources available to the people, but the the mental and emotional attitudes toward the changing technologies is one of the limiting factors in moving forward a whole society.  Also, many that do have abundant access to digital technologies do not practice responsible use of the internet and it is very difficult to police.  Therefore, many who would otherwise be inclined to participate in online activities are reluctant because of the mistrust.

Here is a video copy of our project:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Digital Inequality Assignment , posted with vodpod

Elements of Educational Technology

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Students involved in a process that allows a hands-on approach

How would you feel if every few years they change the word that we know as “milk”?  What kind of implications would this have in societal coherence and comprehension?  What if some regions were slower to adapt to the change than others?  It seems that over time producers, venders, and consumers would find themselves in whirlwind of confusion and frustration.  Fortunately, the word “milk” is pretty concrete and has been around a long time and I don’t see the term changing anytime soon.  Unfortunately, the term “educational technology” is much more abstract and over the years this scenario of change has been a reality.

The Association for Educational Communications and Technology (AECT) is one of the primary standards for defining educational technology.  With regard to the definition, the AECT has made changes over the years.  So, does this mean we can blame them for any confusion in the term? Well, the reality is that the rapid advances of technology and its uneven distribution to society seem to be the main culprit to varied understandings of the term.  Meanwhile, the AECT is making their best effort to create a standard definition in a changing world.  In Chapter 1 of Educational Technology: “A Definition with Commentary”, the AECT admits that the definition will continue to undergo changes in the future. ( p. 1)

The current AECT definition states: Educational technology is the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources (p.1).  This definition was carefully constructed with careful thought on each word.  However, the rest of this post will focus primarily on the processes, as it relates to the definition, and my educator’s perspective of the teacher’s role despite the inequality in the distribution of technology.

The “process” in education can be seen as a collaborative strategy for how and what students learn.  In chapter 1 it is defined as a series of activities directed toward a specified result (p.11).  It goes on to inform that prior to the 1990’s the process of technology was seen more as a tool to be in the teachers’ hands to apply to the lessons.  Later, a slow shift began by empowering students to use technology for the purpose of discovering and developing their own learning.  However, this led to a debate in education that hasn’t been able to find clear answers; how much teacher control is necessary and/or appropriate in this process?  In the same way, producers of educational technology resources struggle between providing a process that presents  technology to inform the learner or providing a  process that allows the students to manipulate technology for their learning needs.  None the less, applying a technological process to either learning environment requires a specific plan.

Therefore, the teacher is often navigating his or her lessons to satisfy the approved process of the administration while tending to the learning needs of the students.  Unfortunately, in my experience as a teacher, sometimes I have been in the middle of a tug-a-war between both sides.  In referring to the process in chapter 1 (p.11) the systematic approach to learning involves the teacher implementing the process in which students are merely recipients of knowledge.  However, earlier in the chapter, in the section “Facilitating”, it states: “With the recent paradigm shift in learning theories has come a greater recognition of the learner’s role as a constructor as opposed to a recipient of knowledge.” (p.4).  Again, in the section “Llearning” it states:  “Pursuing deep learning implies different instructional and assessment approaches than surface learning, so this shift in connotation has profound implications for what processes and resources are “appropriate.” ” (p.6).   Interpreting this for the purpose of educational technology means that the process should allow teachers to more focused on facilitating the inspiration while students need to be more involved in creating with the technology tools.  Yet, even if the administrative process supports the teachers in their endeavors to empower the students, there are other factors that may limit the educational technology learning process.

One of the limiting factors for teachers in implementing a process for educational technology is the unequal distribution of technology.  In my opening paragraph I used the milk scenario to imagine how confusion would mount among regions and the supply chain if a simple term such as milk was changing regularly.  In essence that has been a problem for educational technology.  In modern educational environment the concept of using technology has such a vast interpretation.  Starting from the point of reference of how schools and districts across the United States vary with what they understand and/or can provide in the way of technology.  Then we could look within specific districts and schools and see that not all teachers have equal knowledge or access to technology.  Unfortunately it does not stop there, even the students have varying levels of knowledge and access of technology.  In “A History of Instructional Media (Robert A. Reiser p. 60) much data is given concerning the increase of technology installation over the last decade and a half, but he cites that not all teachers and students have equal access.  He goes on to say “as has been the case throughout the history of instructional media, an increased presence of technology in the schools does not necessarily mean an increased use of that technology for instructional purposes.”  In my opinion, this shows that lack of funds and/or resources is not the only limiting factor, but it takes time changing and disseminating a process among the participants.

In conclusion, it is necessary through the passing of time there is a need to continually expand and modify the definition of educational technology.  It is also important to establish the process of educational technology that allows students to work within a technology format, giving them the opportunity to apply real world application to the learning process.  Unfortunately, many schools and educators have struggled to develop or maintain a process of high level of educational technology.  In their defense, I think the pace of technological advances is much faster than the adaption pace of education and society.  The good news is that there seems to be advancement, but there will always be front runners and too-slow-turtles in this race we call educational technology.

AECT, Chapter 1 in Educational Technology: A Definition with Commentary.  Definition and Terminology Committee of the Association for Educational Communications and Technology.
Robert A, Reiser (2001) A History of Instructional Design and Technology:
Part I: A History of Instructional Media

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