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Saturday, January 26, 2013

The Tech Track?

The SAMR model is a popular method of integrating technology into schools. 

How do we weave the tech track through our school structures, schedules and curriculum?  Where is this track wide and inclusive and where does the track narrow?  Is it a slick easy-to-use track, a rough bumpy path, or a bit of both?

As I consider the tech track, I have the following thoughts. Please note that I updated this post on July 28, 2015. 

Integrate Tech into All Endeavor: Integrate tech into all endeavor, and consider all educators as tech integrators. While there's still a need for those who have expertise with tech infrastructure and tools, tech should no longer be considered a separate subject, but instead looked at as a worthy tool for learning throughout the curriculum. A focus on student learning is an optimal goal for all educators in every department, and the intersection of educators' work in all disciplines with and without technology is where that optimal learning will grow with greatest effect. 

  • How do we restructure tech departments of old so that they support tech use, but are not seen as a separate discipline?
Choose Streamlined, Efficient Tech: Mainly choose streamlined, efficient tools that emphasize the vitality, collaboration and intent of the learning endeavor. As we consider new tools, we should think about unmet students' needs and interests, global and community needs, deep, relevant, and meaningful learning, and new innovations. 
  • What tools currently in place, do teachers deem to be most effective? (I've listed my favorites)
    • Content creation tools such as iMovie, Animoto, Garageband, Google apps, KidPix, WeVideo, SCRATCH, SCRATCH, Jr., Khan Coding. 
    • Skills tools such as That Quiz, SumDog, Khan Academy, Lexia, Xtra Math.
  • What curriculum needs require greater attention, and what tech tools do we desire to achieve those goals?
    • STEAM: Explore/Investigation/Creation Tools
    • Language Learning/English Language Learners: More online tools to support that learning.
  • What kinds of tools do you want to investigate and explore with greater depth?  How do you include the teaching community in this inquiry-based activity? 
    • Gaming Tools: To learn specific skills, to foster inquiry based collaboration and to grow spacial awareness.
    • Open attitude, pathways and response to teachers' will to explore, innovate and implement worthy tech and other tools to further student engagement and learning. 
  • Who has the authority in a system to approve or deny new technology tools? Do the decision makers have regular responsibility for students' scores and learning success, and do they work with students regularly? What is the process?  Do educators have choice and voice when it comes to technology choices?
Dynamic Collaboration: Foster regular, dynamic conversation and learning design amongst educators at multiple disciplines and grade levels as a way of identifying and growing tech innovation and change. New tech should never be a surprise, instead make the learning community continually aware of the questions asked, research in progress, work, decisions and implementation. Also, welcome the outliers and naysayers through online and offline conversation and share. 
  • What are the best ways to foster dynamic conversation?
    • PLCs, PD, Online Conversations, Newsletters, Idea Streams (like Twitter), Blogs
    • Leadership support and involvement--leading the way and demonstrating that these conversations are vital to the growth of a system. 
    • Surveys and response. Sharing survey data with the learning community. 

Varied, Regular Tech Use: Provide students with lots of varied experience with tech so that they are able to use the tools with accuracy and facility to support collaboration, investigation, inquiry and communication. Early use of tech when students are most open minded allows students to learn and access the tools in a natural, integrated way. 
  • Continue the conversation and action with the learning community with regard to this effort.  
    • Involve family members in the conversation and learning efforts related to technology and other learning endeavor. 
    • Survey about best practices, needs, and transparently share and discuss the results of the survey with the entire learning team: students, families, educators, leaders, and community members. 
    • Choose the best tools, and create opportunities for 24-7 use. 
    • Host information on a shared website or social media thread that affords the entire learning team with updated information regarding what's available, questions posed, and new information. 
Early Start to Social Media: An early start to social media helps students to naturally embrace and successfully use the medium. It is important to consider the platforms available and guide students' use in developmentally appropriate and legal ways. 
  • Identify optimal social media platforms and use. 
  • Foster two-way conversation with the learning team i.e. families, students, educators.
  • Choose the best platforms for each level and create goals.
  • Involve families in social media use for young children--creating an online virtual classroom community. 
  • Use social media platforms in teaching and learning as a natural way to introduce students to social media use and protocols. 
Transparency and Communication: People learn well in innovative, open cultures of share, exploration and communication. Foster and embrace transparent, regular communication to build a vibrant, focused culture. 
  • Regular updates for the learning community
  • Updated websites and information resources
  • Simple, streamlined, effective and integrated communication systems
  • Open forums for innovation, exploration, share, and use. 
I am a fan of holistic education, a balance of many tools, structures and strategies.  I see tech as one integrated and important education track.  In this post, I've outlined ideas for weaving the tech track into schools at this juncture in the education evolution. What did I miss?  What would you change?  Tech has been an education enhancement in so many ways--it is a vital tool for learning, one that we need to continually support with a thoughtful, evolving approach.