As I Pondered The Most Appropriate Way To Address The Technology IssueDocument Transcript
As I pondered the most appropriate way to address the technology issue, my mind wandered back to a time when things seemed much simpler; much easier. I remember the original Star Trek series opening dialogue; “Space-the final frontier - Our mission is to seek out new worlds and new civilizations…to boldly go where no man has gone before.” Now please understand, I am not a “trekkie”, but there seems to be some real relevance to what was said way back then, and what we are doing today. The advances in technology are at times indescribable for me. I truly believe that we are exploring new worlds and new ideas through the advancements in technology. As I work with my students, I desperately try and explain to them that the things they have at their disposal today are so much more advanced than anyting I every had. But for them, these technologies represent ordinary daily life. Computers, IPODS, cell phones, smart boards, MP3’s, and scientific calculators are all part of their daily lives. I used a slide-rule and good, old fashioned lead and paper to work out my problems! Fortunately, my school district is very technologically advanced considering our small, rural status. Our goals have been to remain innovative in our approach to technology as well as enhancing what we already use. Our district does an adequate job of funding these goals as well. Our campus plan provides for the continued training and mastering of new techniques and new ideas. As faculty members, we are encouraged, and often required, to show proficiency in the latest emerging technologies. We have interactive web pages and we are provided training to assist in the proper maintenance of those sights. Our STaR Chart data as a district shows that we are essentially in a slowed form of progress. There has been little or no change in the data for the past three years. However, we have added two new computer labs for the students, and all core-subject teachers have a laptop computer provided by the district. Our campus SBDM committee meets every other month and always has an agenda item to discuss technology in the classroom and what needs to be done to enhance it. The sbdm committee has made numerous recommendations over the past years on areas that need improvement, as well as making suggestions and recommendations on how to adequately fund those ideas. Our campus also disaggregates the annual AEIS and STaR Chart data to determine patterns in our students learning. We work to develop and implement plans that will enhance the students exposure and understanding levels of certain TEKS areas that we are having trouble in. After interviewing several students, faculty members and our assistant principal there was a central theme that did emerge. Most agreed that we still do not have enough access to computers so that students can work at a pace to keep up with others. Many of the younger (9th, 10th graders) students have to wait for weeks to get a chance to work at a computer because we allow our juniors and seniors the opportunity to work first. That is an area that needs to be addressed. In my classroom, I have two older computers that I have set up as stations to allow the students an extra opportunity toget on-line and work. I also use my United-Streaming video service from time to time for visual enhancement of the subject matter. Many of the newer faculty members come to us better prepared for the advances in classroom technology, and that is a plus. Our administration works to insure that the new-hires have a solid background computers and advanced equipment. They also work to provide training for those of us that have been in the system for a longer period of time and are just beginning to incorporate technology advances into our curriculum. Our District is heavily represented in the technology department. For a school that is classified as Small and rural, we do a very good job of developing and implementing our technology plan. At the District level, we have a Curriculum coordinator who oversees the entire districts curriculum plan. Those duties include the implementation of the technologies that we currently have in place, and it also includes monitoring the faculty and staff’s use and inclusion of these technology applications. Our district currently employs a consultant whose responsibility is to assess our current level of technology applications and make recommendations on how to improve and in what areas that improvement needs to be in. We have a full-time IT person who remediates any hardware (and software) issues. Our district has four campuses and each campus principal is responsible for implementing the districts technology initiative as well as monitoring and assessing its usage. At the Jr. High and High school campuses, we have classes designed to familiarize the students with the latest technologies and their respective applications. The high school campus also requires that each core curriculum department head oversees the technology initiatives as it applies to their subject matter. I have included some bulleted items below to outline the areas that I have defined as problematic, as well as ideas for remediating those areas. I have also included some continuing education ideas and professional development criteria that I believe may have a positive impact on our campus.
Teachers and staff are required to operate and maintain individual web pages that are used as informational tools for parents and district web visitors. Principals and faculty use AEIS/STAR/ and campus plan data to determine areas of success and areas that need improvement with regard to technology implementation. Faculty are required to build and maintain a web page for informational purposes. Training is provided for Dept. heads on any newly installed software, and then dept. heads train individuals in their respective departments. All computers have had RAM added and windows 7 has been installed on MOST of the district’s computers. Additional training, evaluation, and assessment tools are needed to provide a quality understanding of the current operating systems. There is a need for assessment tools for administrators and dept. heads to be able to determine areas that need improvement and then any remediation efforts that can be used to achieve these improvements. As part of the annual rotation of staff evaluations, technology applications in the classroom will be evaluated and recommendations made to staff for improvements in their classes. Monthly faculty meetings can be used to generate data on how staff is currently utilizing the various technologies available to them; what problems they may be having; and what ideas they may have for problem solving. SBDM meetings should include an allotted time for discussing the use of technology on campus and what areas can be improved upon. Ideas for implementation and funding can be brought to the table for discussion. Form a separate campus committee to review current trends in technology usage and provide a guide for new ideas and timelines for implementation.