Karla Klyng, Literacy Coordinator, Alvin ISD, December 17, 2009 Reflection on Instructional Technology “If Digital Immigrant educators really want to reach Digital Natives – i.e. all their students – they will have to change” (Prensky, 2001, p. 1). After reading Prensky’s articles on Digital Immigrants, I realized I was one. Therefore, my outcome of this course was to get rid of my “accent” and learn as much as I could about technology so that I can incorporate it into the curriculum. This course did open my eyes to the vast amounts of information concerning technology that are important in schools. Learning outcomes that deal with the Texas Long-Range Plan, campus technology infrastructure, implementing technology into the curriculum, social, legal, and ethical issues, technology safety, and professional development are all vital in preparing students to become successful adults in a technology world, but are overwhelming for “digital immigrants”. For me to achieve all of these outcomes, I have to start small and work continuously and consistently in achieving these outcomes. Facilitating the design and implementation of curriculum that enhance teaching and learning to improve student performance is the outcome of the course that I wanted to achieve. Most students are already familiar with using blogs on sites like MySpace to record thoughts, meet people, and keep in touch with their friends. Not only are blogs useful for letting friends communicate and stay in touch, but in a classroom setting they might encourage student-to-student collaboration, allow communication between the teacher and the students, and generally make writing more exciting and fun for students and teachers. Blogging in the 21st century has many advantages. Using a blog makes learning independent of time and place. Teaching can be done at anytime at any location. Using a blog creates a student-centered environment where students can learn from peers and even themselves by discovery. Blogging keeps students active throughout an entire unit of study by initiating effective and creative problem solving which creates high self confidence and satisfaction. The learners are doing the teaching, trying out new knowledge, and discussing their experiences and reflections through blogging instead of watching videos, listening to lectures, and reading independently without collaboration. Blogging also helps with improving writing skills. When students blog, they are publishing their work more often in lesser quantities which helps to assess and improve continuously. Using blogs also allows for a change in thinking because of the collaboration involved. From a budget point of view, blogging can reduce cost by reducing the use of paper and pencils. Blogging also creates an environment of risk taking where students can try new things and think in new ways. It creates an environment of experimenting with new things and emphasizes trying and learning rather than plan and perform. Blogging is easy to implement because it only requires the internet and a computer. Even though, my school does not have a one-to-one computer to student ratio in the classroom, each child does have access to a computer in the computer lab. Blogging can be done during their computer lab times. Blogging can even be used to communicate with school stakeholders. Through blogs, schools can communicate directly with stakeholders. Because blogs can display pictures, video, audio, PowerPoint presentations, Excel spreadsheets, and Word documents, schools can collaborate with stakeholders. Effective communication and collaboration are essential is ensuring success of students. The concerns of blogging in a school environment involve safety issues. Parents and teachers are apprehensive about implementing blogging due to safety issues. Teachers must know their district’s AUP about posting student work and names online. Both must be educated in the values of using internet, blogging, and technology and how students will be kept safe when blogging. Our district requires a password for each student to publish. To facilitate the outcome of implementing technology into the curriculum, I developed a blogging network among a second grade classroom. Previously, this class wrote to their teacher and other students in letter form about the books they were reading. With the help of the district technology coordinator, we set up blog accounts for each child by using Moodle, an open-source software for collaborative learning. I am working with the teacher and after Christmas her students will start collaborating about the books they are reading by using their blog accounts. I have also established a book study in my literacy staff development class by using blogs. Each teacher set up their blog account and we are collaborating about our reflections on the assigned book we are reading. Richardson states that students learn by discussing their meaning and knowledge in authentic and relevant ways which prepares them for a digital, democratic society (2006). I see an increased excitement about the reading assignments resulting from blogging. I contribute the excitement to blogging and the elimination of after school discussion meeting about the readings. I hope to see the same excitement with the students when they begin their blogs after the holiday break. The success of establishing these blogging networks is relevant to the work that I do in my school. A staff development has been scheduled for February allowing the teachers to experiment with setting up their own blogs and incorporating student blogs in the classrooms. In working with the same outcome of implementing technology into the curriculum, my next goal is the establishment of pod-casting and finding resources to implement project based instruction. Again, this “digital immigrant” must start slow and work consistently and consistently, one step at a time. Learning outcomes that I did not achieve in the course was not due to lack of acquired knowledge, but rather lack of time. Implementing project based technology instruction is an area I want to research for my campus. Boss (2007) states that the technology project approach maximizes the use of digital tools so that students expand on real word experiences and become thinkers in a global society. Another area I did not achieve due to building limitations is acquiring knowledge concerning campus technology infrastructure and digital service. Our building is over forty-five years old and would require extensive remodeling to support full technology implementation. The new school we will be getting in two years, will be equipped with wireless technology, computers in all classroom, Promethean Activboards, document camera, and projectors. As a future administrator, assessing the Title 1 budget with the SBDM team will allow for implementation of technology in the new school that is aligned with the districts Long Range Technology Plan and District and Campus Improvement Plans. Because budgets are limited, this can limit technology implementation. The Texas Long Range Technology Plan states that we must prepare students for emerging global economies and it is the state’s responsibility to respond to educational technology challenges by providing direction and resources to students and teachers. If this is the case, the state must provide more funding to each school district to implement this plan effectively. School district’s budgets do not allow for full technology implementation. I have to admit that I was apprehensive in completing assignments for this course due to my limitations in technology. My first reaction to the assignments was negative because the information was new and change is difficult. I learned from a previous class, Schools as Learning Communities, that learning new things is a change in behavior. When you learn, you are able to do things differently than before and that is called growth. I saw myself going through Tuckman’s Stage Descriptors of Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing and eventually was motivated because of the new learning. The barrier that discouraged me was the unknown, but through the course lectures, discussions, and readings, I was successful in the course assignments. The most influential point I learned from this course was that I am a “digital immigrant”. I grew up in a world with limited technology and have entered a world based on limitless technology. Students today have no knowledge of the world prior to technology, therefore, I can learn from my students. My attitudes about technology have changed in that I realize the importance of implementing technology in the curriculum. Educator’s goal must be to prepare students for living in a digital, democratic society. We must change the way we teach. We are living in an age of information overload with the expectation that students will learn high-level skills such as how to evaluate, analyze, and synthesize enormous quantities of information. But at the same time, teachers are evaluated by their ability to have students pass “the test” that gives no value to these abilities. As an administrator, I must work with the district technology curriculum director and my staff to collaborate about technology implementation that promotes and develops state standards. My technology and leadership skills will assist me in implementing staff development in technology instruction and establishing a collaborative environment for implementing technology. References Boss, S. & Krauss, J. (2007). Real projects in a digital world. Principal Leadership, 8(4), 22-26. Crawford, C., Week 2 Lecture, Schools as Learning Communities. Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants: Part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5)., 1-6. Richardson, W. (2005). Blog revolution: Expanding classroom horizons with Web logs. Technology & Learning, 26(3).