How can teachers and schools ensure are meeting standards in an integrated model?
At the beginning of this semester twenty-four new middle school students attended ‘technology boot-camp’ to ensure they would be able to function in their classes. A survey of their experiences prior to starting at ISB indicated a wide range of skills sets. How can our school ensure that these students are able to function in their classes? Does a boot-camp of this kind work or do students need more ongoing support? Is it even necessary to explicitly teach all of the things students need to know to operate (i.e. Google Docs, WordPress, etc.) because they are digital natives and will pick up on everything quickly anyway?
Perhaps, because there are so many factors that might prevent seamless integration, we should continue separate tech courses. I don’t mean traditional tech classes focused on a particular software, but rather, flexible time or modules offered to meet students’ tech needs. For example, student A doesn’t know how to use Google Docs or WordPress, so he takes a 1 or 2-week intensive course during his Tech Time on these. Then you have B who is a tech whiz and she is enrolled in a iMovie module and then something about some tech something I don’t even know about. Or Teacher C is doing podcasts in his Science course and would like students to have more time working specifically on the tech side. His students use their Tech Time to do that for a week. Sure, it could be a scheduling and logistical nightmare, but it could also be amazing with the right planning. As it is, I’m probably already dreaming, because this Tech Time would have to come from somewhere in schedules already pressed for minutes. Because the ability to adapt to and be comfortable with new technologies is an essential skill for students, we should ensure that they leave school with them.
These classes would be need to be taught in addition to an integrated model of technology throughout the school. Using the NETS as a framework schools can determine section (ES, MS, HS) or grade level expectations. These should be clearly communicated and reviewed. Ensuring that they are met is a difficult task, though, which requires a dedicated team and well-constructed plan. The Connected Learning Community Team at YIS seems to be off to a good start with these ideas which sprouted from their work with Dr. Mary Hayden. From Always Learning by Kim Cofino:
- Create a list of goals/desired results in practicalities, based on our Vision for the CLC (here’s how we developed our vision). Remember to focus on not just technology, but habits, including: social and emotional wellness, and digital citizenship.
- Create an audit or survey to determine if we’ve met those goals, consider running this at the beginning, (middle?) and end of the year to see where we’ve started from, as well as where we’ve gone.
- Create a form/format for all stakeholders to regularly record what they’ve seen based on the desired results – basically a way for us to continually gather evidence about our successes and challenges through multiple perspectives.
- Develop a case study group, to ensure regular reflection and feedback with a specific group composed of students, teachers and parents (similar to the team that worked together to develop our program).
- Add software to image that tracks when students are online and what they’re doing – we can ask students to run the software during orientation. (What does this mean for student privacy?)
- Use student blogs as a record of their development, interest and use of technology tools to connect, communicate, share and collaborate.
- Try some experiments: for example: run parallel classes: same class – one with tech, one without – to see the impact that technology is having on a day-to-day basis. Or use text messaging to see how students are using text messaging (What are you doing now? What do you think about what you’re doing?)
So often in education plans are implemented, but reviews of their success or challenges somehow get lost in the shuffle. This program seems like a multi-faceted approach that allows for reflection, evaluation, and experimentation. It will be interesting to watch as this vision gets translated into reality.