Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tech Vision for Elementary School Students

Updated 6/26/2015

My system is creating a vision for elementary school tech-ed integration. System leaders have invited all educators to take part in this process. I've been thinking a lot about this, and this is my first attempt to create a vision for all elementary school students.  Essentially my vision represents a synthesis of the study, research, experiences, and conversations I've had related to the topic over the past several years.

I recognize that I am only one voice with one perspective so I look forward to the conversations to follow online and off regarding the creation of a collective vision to best effect student learning.

Before embarking on the vision, I have defined technology's potential for elementary school students' learning.

Technology has the potential to facilitate the following:
  • Make learning accessible.
  • Teach children the skills and mindset that will invigorate life long learning.
  • Engage and empower students. 
  • Track, modify, and enrich learning in streamlined, targeted ways.
  • Enhance our ability to differentiate learning.
  • Provide students with a greater, more diverse audience for their work which is important because audience builds investment, authenticity, care, and response.
  • Invite experts into our classrooms via social media.
  • Create a 24-7 platform for communication and learning.
  • Provide limitless content and information.
  • Minimize drudgery.
As we can see, tech has the potential to enrich and enhance student learning for elementary school students. With that in mind, what is important with regard to our tech-ed vision and work?  These are the vision statements that I currently believe are integral to optimal tech use at the elementary level. 
  • Digital Citizenship: Students learn about and practice their skills at digital citizenry in meaningful, real world ways. 
  • Essential Skills: Technology is identified and utilized in meaningful and engaging ways that make standards-based and project/problem base learning successful for all students. Specifically, we utilize venues that enrich and develop English language arts comprehension and fluency, math understanding and facility, and science and social studies knowledge, process and skill. It's best if this essential skill development is done with a menu of choices that include a variety of types of technology and student choice. 
  • Technology Standards: Students learn and master identified local, state and national technology standards. 
  • Learning Design: Technology is integrated in thoughtful, research-based, student-centered learning design that reflects cognitive research, students' passions and interests, and developmental studies by embedding integral tools to make learning engaging, empowering and successful for every student. Universal design elements should be considered in this process. 
  • Communication: Technology is utilized to relay the learning community's news, experiences, tools and activities 24-7 in efficient, transparent and responsive ways. Communication platforms include school websites, classroom websites, collegial blogs and more. 
  • Global Competence:  Integration of technology tools and activities broaden students' world view, interaction, understanding, and impact. 
  • Guided Social Media: Technology tools are utilized to guide students' appropriate use of social media to impact student learning in positive ways. Students utilize social media regularly in developmentally appropriate ways to both practice using the mediums in a safe space and to learn how to use the mediums effectively. 
  • Special Needs: Specific technology tools are identified and utilized to make learning accessible to all, particularly those with identified special needs. When possibly Universal Design for Learning is implemented in this regard. 
  • Professional Development: Through the use of multiple venues including webinars, Twitter, blogs, edcamps,  conferences, courses, system-wide training, teacher share and one-to-one coaching, the professional staff will develop and strengthen their technology facility and use. 
  • Review, Revision and Refinement: A regular inclusive review, revision, and refinement process will be instituted to analyze the tools we use; eliminate tools that are no longer useful and acquire new technology tools that better meet student learning goals.
  • STEM: Technology will be utilized more often in the areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics to foster students' exposure to, and experience with, multiple models, invention, process, and design.  SCRATCH, ebots and Lego robotics will be further used, and gaming sites such as Minecraft and others will be reviewed and possibly used in this endeavor since we know these platforms are becoming a mainstay in science and engineering endeavor. These platforms also allow students to learn in vigorous, engaging 3D ways, ways that they will learn and work in the future. 
  • Expert Visitors: We will utilize technology to employ the expertise and knowledge of experts related to our curriculum focus and work.
  • Digital Literacy: Students will become literate in understanding and utilizing digital tools.
  • Presentation: We will utilize technology in creative and responsive ways to showcase student learning and effort as a way of celebrating learning, fostering reflection, and motivating future endeavor.
  • Life Long Learning: In this age of ready information, the importance of teaching has shifted from information input to teaching students how to learn effectively.  The apt use of technology provides students with the skills, tools and mindset for life long, active learning. 
  • Gaming: Gaming is proving to be an awesome tool for learning, and should be researched, piloted, and embedded into learning endeavor regularly to maximize student engagement and learning. 
  • Learning Assessment: Technology will be utilized to assess student learning in efficient and informative ways. 
What have I missed?  What would you add, revise or take away?  How would you prioritize this list? As mentioned before, I'm one voice, and I look forward to how the voices of many will shape and revise these ideas. Debate, ideas and comments welcome. Thanks for your consideration.

It is important to note that technology is a powerful learning tool and venue, but it is certainly not the only important tool and activity when it comes to a rich learning experience for young children. Employing a multitude of responsive, developmentally appropriate tools and activities including events in nature, hands-on craft and creation, read aloud, math games, collaborative music making and more is critical to a holistic approach to optimal student learning particularly at the elementary school level.

Related Posts
The Whole New Educator

This is the link to Karen Cator's presentation as part of the Global Education Conference. As the leader, Cator discusses the focus of the Department of Educational Technology including her thoughts on guided social media.

George Couros Post on Innovation

Fran's Example of a T-Chart for the Vision Document (see comments)
Leverage Tech to Optimize Learning