School Evaluation Summary

This project was a very good learning experience for me. The school I chose to survey is a virtual school. Since it is a virtual school, it is dependent on technology. The survey process helped me understand what procedures are used in the technology decision making process.

I started by using the Maturity Model Benchmarks to formulate questions that I would use in interviews and teacher surveys. I enjoyed interviewing a school board member, principal, and vice principal. I learned a lot about how and why decisions are made about the technology for the school. Even though each interviewee had their own perspectives, they all had a clear vision of where the school is technologically and where it is going in the future.

The surveys completed by the teachers helped me understand their perspective about technology used for online teaching. They use technology to communicate, conduct synchronous lessons, monitor progress, access grade books, grade student work, and provide interventions. At times, it can seem overwhelming especially the first year being an online teacher in a K-12 school.

I used the information I gathered in the interviews and the surveys and used them to rank the schools technology use using the Maturity Model Benchmarks.

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Technology Use Planning Overview

Technology use planning offers a path to help institutions establish where they are and provide a road map to help them get to where they want to be technologically. A technology plan is implementing changes continuously to work towards technological goals. Stakeholders, budget, time, and planning are some of the factors that affect technology use planning. There are several other matters to take into consideration, how to find planning resources, how to provide ongoing evaluation, how to assess for the greatest need, and how to divide the responsibilities. In order for technology use planning documents to be effective, attention to details must occur. (Al-Weshail, 1996).

In Al-Weshail’s article, there are five phases of the technology planning model. The first phase is to recruit and organize a planning team that represents all of the stakeholders. The second phase involves researching needs of the organization and identifying how to meet those needs. In the third phase, the technology plan is constructed based on what was learned in the research. This plan should form a vision and mission, and define goals and tasks that will lead the organization to fulfill their vision. The fourth phase is where the planning is formalized. During this phase, the document will be created based on what currently exists, the vision of the organization, and how to achieve the goals. Phase five is to continually implement, evaluate and revise. The plan should be a living document that must be reevaluated and revised since there will be changes in technology, funding, staff support, and other factors that affect the plan.

According to See, technology plans should be short-term, preferably less than one year in length.  I agree with See because technology changes very quickly and a plan that goes beyond one year will be ineffective.  If the plan is longer than one year, it should be reevaluated annually.

Technology plans should focus on applications rather than technology which will lead to a plan based on what students, staff, and administration can do with technology. This will make the plan output based rather than input based. To do this, start with learning goals and performance expectations and then decide what technology sources can be used to attain that goal. Effective technology plans go beyond enhancing the curriculum. Think about using applications of technology that allow students and staff to work smarter not harder (See, 1996).

Another component of effective technology plans that See points out is defining technology as more than just computers. The plan should include integration of technology into the curriculum. See gives an example with writing. The writing process should to be taught using technology, rather than teaching word processing separately (See, 1996).

Staff development is an important component that must be tied to productive technology plans. Implementation of technology will not occur without sufficient staff awareness and training. Teachers must know what types of technology are available and their limitations before they can move toward the applications that can be utilized to help students become more effective learners. Then, teachers will be able to learn how to use technology to help them teach the curriculum and enhance the use of technology in their classroom. It is essential to an effective plan to accomplish all steps of the staff development in order for teachers to have the help and support needed to use the technology efficiently.

The National Education Technology Plan 2010 can be a useful resource for technology planning because it can be used as a model to create plans on a smaller district or state-wide scale. The main goals of this plan is to raise the amount of college graduates in the nation to 60% of the population having a two-year or four- year degrees and to close the achievement gap so that all students will be successful in college or careers when they graduate from high school. Technology will play a significant role in providing our students engaging, thought provoking experiences that lead students to think critically and excel in school.

The National Education Technology Plan focuses on the following areas:  learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure and productivity. Districts and states will be able to use the National Education Technology Plan as a model in creating their plans. The national plan includes using technology to “enable, motivate and inspire all students, regardless of background, languages, or disabilities, to achieve. It leverages the power of technology to provide personalized learning instead of a one-size-fits-all curriculum, pace of teaching and instructional practices,” (NETP, 2010).  I agree that using technology for differentiated instruction is effective and allows learning to be student centered. The focus of this section is on individualized learning and connections with a goal of teaching students to use the internet resources properly in order to be functional in our society.

Technology based assessment is emphasized in the assessments portion of the plan. Assessments can provide data that is used to make decisions and improve education. The goal is to design technology based assessments that will measure problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration. The purpose of the assessments is to use them to drive instruction.

Connecting educators and ensuring that they have proper data, tools, content, and resources that will enable them to create and assess relevant student learning experiences is the emphasis of the teaching portion of the plan. Teachers will also have access to resources to improve their teaching practices. The goal is to connect educators with each other and enable them to be facilitators of student learning. Connected teaching allows opportunities for collaboration that will provide teachers with access to resources and knowledge.

A comprehensive infrastructure is needed to move education past the traditional model. This will allow students and teachers to have the resources they need no matter where they are. The learning infrastructure is always on.  This gives students and educators a new way to learn and share knowledge. With the learning infrastructure, access to people and online communities as well as information is always available.

In order to reform the education system in our country, technology must be used for productivity. Through the use of technology, businesses are continually changing and adjusting for productivity so education should do the same. In order to change educational productivity, basic assumptions need to be rethought. Our educational system is based on out of date assumptions such as seat time, age determined groups, structured separate academic disciplines, classes of equal size, and students working at the same pace. The entire educational system will have to be changed in order to move away from these outdated teaching practices.

I have not had the opportunity to work on a technology use plan but I believe the actions that are recommended in the National Education Technology Plan 2010 will be helpful for school districts to use as a model. There are many visions in the national plan that districts can take into consideration when developing their plan. Since districts will be working on a smaller scale, they will need to narrow their focus to fit the needs of their students.

References:

Al-Weshail, A. S., Baxter, A., Cherry, W., Hill, E. W., Jones, II, C. R., Love, L. T., . . . Woods, J. C. (1996, May 7). Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan: Version 2.0.Mississippi State University. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf

See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher,19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

RSS Feeds Assignment

 

RSS (Really Simple Syndication) is a format used to deliver web content that is updated regularly. RSS allows people to stay up to date on the news and blogs they view often. A RSS reader is used to subscribe to feeds of interest.  For my RSS feeds, I am using Google Reader. Here is a link of the teaching resources bundle I created.

RSS feeds can be beneficial in the educational environment. I might use this with my students when they are doing research for a project. I could create a bundle for the topic they will be researching and share it with my students. When students go to the link I provide, it will bring them up to date articles they can use for their research.

Another way I could use RSS feeds with my class is with student portfolios. Students could create a blog to post their written assignments. After their blogs are created, I would create a bundle of the all my students’ blog pages so they would be easy to access from one place. I would be updated when they post a new assignment, and they would have a portfolio of their work for the school year.

I also thought that I could create a blog page for parents of students in my class to keep them up to date on school and class activities. Since I did not know the benefit of RSS feeds until completing this assignment, I would send parents a document explaining RSS feeds and how to use it.

Tech Trends Assignment

Horizon Report Tech Trend

While reading the NMC Horizon Report, I was inspired to try to find a way to use an iPad app in a lesson. Since a lot of students already use this technology, I thought this would be a great way to engage students. I will be working on figurative language with my class soon so I decided to look for apps that I could use to help enhance the lesson. I stumbled upon the Idioms app. After downloading it, I played with it for a little while before I figured out how I could use this in a classroom setting. In the lesson, students will use the Idiom app to look up the meaning and an example of the idioms they are provided. They will also take a quiz and send the results to the instructor. 

I also wanted to incorporate a technology standard to this language arts lesson. I have used Media Chalk with my class before and my student loved it. This program is used to create digital animated movies right from the computer. It has backgrounds and characters to choose from. Students can also record their voice or add music to their movies. In my tech trend lesson plan, students will use Media Chalk to share what they have learned about idioms. 

Digital Inequality Assignment

Digital divide refers the gap between people who have access to technology and those who do not. As this gap closes, digital inequality becomes a bigger issue. Digital inequality refers to factors that relate to technology use. There are many people that have out of date technology and software, inadequate internet speed, or the lack of skills needed to use the technology effectively. In our society today, we use the internet to apply for jobs, apply for benefits, and network with others. Digital inequality is something I did not think about until this project. This assignment helped me realize the need of digital equality. Little things I take for granted such as my computer, internet connection, and smart phone are tools I use daily that many people are not familiar with.

The digital inequality assignment was a group project. It was nice to work with others on this project. We had people from all over the world working together. For this project, we needed to provide the State Superintendent of Public Education information on seven different options to address digital inequality in the state. We chose to use the state of Arizona for our project since it has a diverse population. I live in Arizona and did not know that recently, Arizona Public Computer Centers project spent approximately $1,600,000 to increase the number of computers in Arizona public libraries. This project brought more than 1,000 computers to the public libraries in Arizona. This program was designed to help citizens that have no access to computers or the internet.

For this assignment, we used Google slides to create our presentation. This is a great way to collaborate on slides with others. You can see what changes have been made by each team member and you can send an email to the group from the presentation.

Zotero Library Assignment

Google Scholar and Albertson’s Library are very useful tools to use for online research. Google scholar has large database of resources. The nice thing about Google Scholar is that I can set it up to link to the Boise State Library. This saves me a step when I need to find the full article. I can also set up email alerts in Google Scholar for my research topics.  The feature I liked best in the Albertson’s Library is that I can filter search results to show only peer reviewed articles. Both Google Scholar and Alberson’s Library were easy to navigate.

Zotero is a tool used for online research. Articles can be saved in folders in Zotero. The folders are very helpful to keep research topics organized. The best part about this program is that it is a citation manager that can be used to cite references. I found that even though I set my Zotero citing to APA, I need to double check the format. There were a couple of things that I needed to change in the formatting that was created from Zotero.  I am grateful that Shannon pointed this out to me so I could make my corrections.

I think this tool will be useful for me when I am conducting research but I don’t think this will be useful for me to use with my students in the elementary level.

For this assignment, I researched effectiveness of technology in education. My references are below.

Giovanni, S., Berger, D., Saw, A., & Mary, J. (2011). Effectiveness of computer-assisted instruction in statistics: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 81(1), 97-127.

Heinecke, W. F., Milman, N.B., Washington, L.A., & Blasi, L. (2002). New directions in the evaluation of the effectiveness of educational technology. Computers in the Schools, 18(2-3), 97-110.

Lu, J., & Zhang, Z. (2012). Understanding the effectiveness of online peer assessment: A path model. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 46(3), 313-333.

Thomas, M, & Hofmeister, D. (2002). Assessing the effectiveness of technology integration: Message boards for strengthening literacy. Computers & Education, 38(1-3), 233-240.

Watson, S. L., & Watson, W. R. (2011). The role of technology and computer-based instruction in a disadvantaged alternative school’s culture of learning. Computers in the Schools, 28(1), 39-55.

Learning Log Assignment

I am using WordPress for my Learning Log. This was a new program for me so I had to take some time to play around with it in order to learn how to use it. I am still finding new things each time I open it up. This has been a great learning experience.

WordPress is a great program to use for this assignment because I can post the artifacts I create in different classes in one place. The Tag Cloud widget makes it easy to sort the posted artifacts. This is a great way to organize and reflect on my learning.