Thursday, May 9, 2019

Hindsight: How I *WISH* I had Supported Our Technology Rollout

According to wikipedia, the first iPad was released on April 3, 2010 ( Simon Sinek originally published his book Start with the Why in 2009. Oh to have read that book then! Mobile devices in education have been a messy journey. I find great comfort in knowing we aren't the only school that has muddled through this. I hear, see, and gain insight from people all over the country as I ask "What works for you in this situation?" as we finished up year 6 of a 1:1 plan that continues to develop and adjust to the ever-changing needs of our students. Our school started out as BYOT in middle and high school and we are slowly transitioning to chromebook rollouts over the next few years. Our elementary school started with a rolling cart of iPads and we have slowly added more and more into the mix for use and a chromebook cart as well.

In the beginning, we introduced Google suites and annotation options to our upper school teachers but there was never really a "why" that all our teachers feel comfortable hanging their hat on. Most recently, our upper school teachers have been held accountable for the following:

  • All mechanically scorable assessment items must be completed in Canvas.
  • Students must be allowed to submit written work (papers) electronically without having to submit an additional paper copy.
Over the last few years, we have created a Technology Integration: Goals and Outcomes for Students document. This document is based on the ISTE Standards for Students and it represents the technology skills and abilities we want to see a graduating senior from our school being able to accomplish. This is our why. These goals and outcomes prepare students for their future. It seemed we finally figured out the why but I will say even knowing that is a need, it is hard for educators to discern what that means to them and their classrooms. Heck, it is hard for technology leaders to discern how best to move forward in creating these opportunities for all students!

Our desire to set skill lists and minimum usage requirements for teachers is a feeble attempt at best to reform education with a tool. Google, MIE, and Apple have created leveled educator certifications to prove teachers know the tools and platforms but the question still remains...are we using technology in a transformational way? The last 2 years I found myself focusing on this. How do we help teachers to see how to use these devices in their classrooms for transformed learning. I found myself focusing on the ISTE Standards for Students because they seem to focus on reforming the educational process from the student perspective. I then looked at each of the 7 standards and broke them down into really hands-on applications for teachers to consider in a no tech, low tech, or high tech environment. All of a sudden I found myself writing a book. A book that I have not published but one that keeps pulling at me.

In November 2018 I led a session called "Tech Knowledge...Gee!" at the Tennessee Education Technology Conference that basically looked at the topic of my "book in process" and helped educators dissect each of the ISTE Student standards to look at ways they were potentially teaching each topic in their classroom in no tech, low tech or high tech ways. If they looked at the standard and couldn't think of an option, we as a group sat together to brainstorm ideas for them. Those that attended found the concept extremely helpful because they were no longer looking at the device or platform but more as a concept they wanted their students to understand. For teachers, this created a clarity that they did not have before. It is our nature to look for recipes that have the ingredients we already have in the kitchen. For educators, we often do this. "I have 5 chromebooks and Google suites, what can I make with this?" But often this means we are missing out on the gourmet meal that we could cook.

Over the next few weeks, I have decided to break down the chapters of this book into blog posts to help others look at technology integration through a different lens. I will say that some of the ISTE Standards for Students lend themselves to certain disciplines. Don't force yourself to hit every standard just so you can say you did if you are an English teacher BUT I do believe every standard can be supported in every classroom. Stay tuned for more!

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