Category Archives: 3.4 Policies and Regulations

School Evaluation Summary

Reflection:

This assignment was difficult to begin as I was unclear about some of the terminology related to the maturity model benchmarks.  It would be beneficial to see examples of what was meant in each section.  Once I started going though, evaluation became simpler.  I got a better feel for the rubric and could easily pick up on examples within my district of evaluation.

Due to the lack of a technology plan and lack of administrative support in the form of training on implementation of new technologies I had a feeling this district would score low.  The low scores though are primarily because of the lack of training provided to staff.  I think if staff had more training, many areas that received marks in the Emergent or Islands stages would easily move toward an Integrated or Intelligent range.  The information gathered during this process could prove valuable in future arguments toward staff development in the areas of technology use and planning.  Without it, most teachers will be stuck on their islands with no way off.  Many will only see what is in front of them and will only use the technology for what they see as the intended purpose.  They will forever be stranded with no chance of advancement for themselves or their students.

Technology Use Planning Overview

Defining technology use planning is not easy because of its changing nature.  I found it best to put together a definition using the analogies provided by Anderson and using See’s suggestions for developing an effective technology plan (Anderson, 1999 and See, 1992).  I would define a technology use plan as a short term plan or map that details the desired outcomes in using technology and provides a suggested route to achieve those outcomes.  It is vital to have the entire map rather than one route to the destination.  A single route ties an institution into one form or one brand of technology that may be discovered as ineffective in achieving the desired outcomes.  As an institution follows its suggested route or working plan, they may also come across a cheaper more effective route to more efficiently achieve their goals.

Long term plans focusing on specific forms of technology simply will not work with the rate at which technological advances occur today.  A popular phrase one hears today is that the technology you buy today is obsolete tomorrow.  I recall purchasing my first big screen TV just last year.  The day it was delivered I came across better deals with larger screens and newer features.  This fact alone makes it challenging to even purchase new technologies.  There always seems to be something newer, bigger and, better and there always will be.  However, short term technology plans create the opportunity for easy accommodations to these changes in technologies and allow institutions flexibility in their purchases.

In conjunction with this idea I agree with Anderson and See that a technology plan must be about more than computers.  The central focus must be the users and creating the opportunity for those users to achieve the desired results with the best technology for the job.

When creating a technology use plan, the National Educational Technology plan should prove to be a valuable resource.  The NETP outlines the goals and outcomes educational institutions should attain with their technology.

Prior to this assignment I had really never heard of a technology use plan.  I’ve never heard mention of one in our district and I’m not sure if we even have one at this point.  If we do not have one I think it vital the district works to create one.  Right now it seems like the district haphazardly throws money into new technology when it has funding available.  There seems to be no consideration about what we would like students and staff to gain or achieve through using it.  A couple of people, namely the superintendent and technology coordinator get together and decide what would get us the most bang for the buck and they make a purchase and hand out the equipment.  There is no staff development, no guidance, just here is the equipment, this should make you a better teacher.  As I enter different classrooms I often see $300-$400 dollar document cameras gathering dust or being used as an overhead projector.  The principal wants each classroom to have a document camera and projector without any consideration to whether or not the equipment would even be used.  I see thousands of wasted dollars that could have been used somewhere else.  I’ve recently tried to turn the tech coordinator toward purchasing an alternative document camera for a quarter the cost of the current models.  If we have to purchase them and they are just going to sit there, why spend so much?  I think this quote from See in Developing Effective Technology Plans best sums up my thoughts on the current situation in my district; “Why not fund initiative, effectiveness, and success.”  (1992)

Anderson, L. (1999). Technology planning: It’s more than computers. Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/articles/tpmore.pdf

See, J. (1992, May). 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). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

Digital Inequality

Wow, I’ve learned so much through this assignment, but boy am I glad to be finished with it. On top of the hours and hours I spent researching and reading it doesn’t compare with what I could have done.  It seemed like each piece I read lead me to another or started me thinking about other questions I then wanted to research as well.  There just aren’t enough hours in the day!

As I mention in my presentation I had originally intended to research the inequalities in how the the internet is used among different genders, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, education, income, etc.  As I began my research I discovered the larger problem was the divide in access to high speed internet, an issue like most of the public I was fairly unaware of.

Maybe I’m too much of an optimist, but I do not like to think of our government as a corrupt institution where politicians and executives aren’t always in their positions for the good of the public, but instead seek what is most beneficial to themselves.  I am also stunned at the lack of effort by the government to provide the means and methods for all to have access to affordable high speed internet.

In the presentation below I highlight the current status of broadband access, the problems with providing the access, and some difficult but potential solutions to closing the gap between those with access and those without.