Category Archives: ISTE3

Module 3: Troubleshooting for All

Introduction to ISTE 3E and 3G

This week for my M.Ed. Digital Education Leadership program blog post at Seattle Pacific University. I’m reflecting on a different part of the ISTE coaching standard #3. For this module we are considering indicators E and G of Standard 3. Initially those two indicators and topics seemed unrelated but I think they really do overlap more than I first thought. Initially in considering the role students and teachers play in troubleshooting technology versus collaborating locally and globally with students, parents, peers and the larger community I decided to focus on troubleshooting. However, I think the two may be more connected than I originally considered. The question that chose to investigate was related to my school district. I wanted to know what tools or resources they had in place for teachers and students who need to troubleshoot technology so that they feel empowered to troubleshoot on their own. I also want to consider what technology coaches can do in order to encourage teachers to troubleshoot on their own.

Empowering Teachers

The first step that I see in helping teachers to become empowered users of technology who troubleshoot their own problems is encouraging them to begin to do that work. Perhaps even before providing that encouragement technology leaders will need to provide some modeling or sharing how we troubleshoot our own technology problems. I will plan to write a bit more about this later in my post. In order for teachers to be successful troubleshooters of their technology, however, they will likely need scaffolded help. In many of my previous readings and posts related to PD the idea that good teaching for students and  adults is the same has come up repeatedly. That is why I believe that some explicit teaching around troubleshooting is necessary for teachers. In my past experience working with teachers and collaborating in general the collective intelligence is far superior to the ideas of one person. Therefore, my hope in continually exposing the district staff to the idea of troubleshooting a device on their own and modeling with the  resources I use is that it will lead to a culture where it is natural for teachers to troubleshoot their own problems more often. My second hope is that by devoting a small amount of time to troubleshooting consistently will aid in creating of a community of resources related to troubleshooting to build a repository of solutions and resources for finding those solutions across an entire school district.

Troubleshooting Help – Some Resources

The next part of my research into troubleshooting tools involved actually looking for tools that were used in my district as well as other tools I could find around the web. I was able to find some pretty good resources but many, as happens with technology, seem outdated.

The first thing I noticed when looking for tools to help with troubleshooting technology within my school district is that there is a troubleshooting and PD website that does exist! It is just like what I was hoping to find, a place where collective intelligence is leveraged for the benefit of all. I was happy to see that they have a fairly advanced page with many working links that includes resources in a variety of formats. I saw documents, slideshows and videos depending on the topic you choose to learn more about. Some offered explanations or PD but others were basic directions on how to use a tool that would likely work for troubleshooting. Another positive aspect of this website is that it utilizes tools and resources that are already available from the web as well as incorporates tools and resources created by the technology leaders from within the district. I think this provides a good mix of showing teachers what is available and encouraging them to create and share their own knowledge. In addition to this webpage there is another page offered by the district that is an instructional technology blog. On the blog there is also a combination of different types of information. Some link to PD or other district websites and some are setup type tips that would be helpful to a teacher or student who was troubleshooting their technology. One point of interest for me is whether or not these resources are widely shared across the district or in trainings and how often they are updated. I hope to find out when I attend the new employee training later this month.

The next resource I wanted to share that I discovered in my search this week is from Pace University in the state of New York. Pace has an interesting idea in their website that is for troubleshooting all about computers for teachers or students. They have attempted to put the most important technology issues on their site and then further divided that into five subsites. The layout is great, and I like the subsites as well as the visuals on the homepage of the site. It would likely still be useful if it was current, but much of the information appears to now be out of date. I actually had a pretty difficult time finding a technology troubleshooting website, especially one made for teachers because I think much of this work has been taken on by districts, and probably also because so many specific problems can be solved by searching the web. Searching the web is one basic way to troubleshoot many technology problems but I wanted to provide two resources that might be more focused and powerful than a general web search. I want to talk about product forums and support pages. I’m choosing to discuss Google Forums and Google Product support because I use a Google account at work and students in my district use Chromebooks and have G Suite accounts.

Google Forums and Support

Google product forums is an extensive website that revolves around all of the products Google offers and allows users to ask questions and get answers from community members, volunteers or Google employees. I’ve found that each time I use the forums I learn something new, often in addition to the solution I was looking to find. As you can see the forum has an extensive list of products. Google Forum Homepage

I was look there today and was reminded that I can use the shortcut ctrl + ? to bring up the help menu on a Chromebook. One great reason to use these forums if that you often get specific step by step support tailored to your problem, or you can find past posts by searching that explain the exact topic you are trying to solve. Another similarly useful resource is the Google Support website.

Google's Product Help WebsiteFrom what I can see the support website is more general whereas forums are for more technical or specific problems. I’m not sure, so if you happen to know please provide a clarifying comment! The great thing about support and forum type of websites is that all major technology companies seems to have them. Whether you prefer to use Microsoft, Apple or Google products and services each of those three major companies has these dedicated websites. Now you don’t even have to go to the Apple Store! I think that because we do so much of our work on specific devices from one of these large companies, and because so much is now done online the best troubleshooting for most people will probably come from a major forum or product support website.

Empowering Students

Since the resources I’ve listed above are all free to use without any password protection or other restrictions I see no reason why those same sites should not be shared with students. If we are looking to empower students to be creative thinkers and problem solvers then troubleshooting should be a skill they acquire. It has been my experience that my former students are some of the most eager people to troubleshoot technology problems. When I reflect on my classroom practice from past years, I think if I had strategically provided them with these resources they would have been even more independent in their use of technology and in finding solutions for problems. I also wonder if more students would have demonstrated competency in troubleshooting. Explicit teaching and modeling can be used here with students and teachers alike. As I said above, there is a connection between encouraging local and global collaboration and confidence in troubleshooting. If you use technology sometime you will encounter a problem. Our students will continue to use technology just as students across the world will use technology. Students will collaborate with others who are far removed from their learning environments, when problems come up they should have some strategies for solving those problems. As Lindsay (2016) states, students should develop global competencies in order to be prepared for the global jobs they will be competing for tomorrow. Let’s work to help our students be prepared to compete globally by helping them become proficient users of technology. 

My Thoughts for Teachers Leaders

The way forward could help to shape classroom cultures, mindset and the entire environment of  a school or district. If we are willing to be patient, resist the urge to provide answers, model our own troubleshooting with both staff members and students, and encourage flexible solutions to problems then an important shift can continue to happen. Our goal as technology leaders should be to help spur this change. Change can happen, especially if we provide staff and students with some resources that they can use to move past the initial stage of just giving up. If we want students to persevere in their lives, shouldn’t we be willing to do the same in front of them and in front of our own colleagues? Certainly we need to test, prepare and do our best to ensure that our instructional time is spent instructing, but next time you have a technology hiccup maybe we should stop and think about what our reaction and solution teaches those around us. I would also encourage you to model if possible or share some resources that you use to troubleshoot technology to other teachers in a PD or in an informal setting. Finally, if you have resources from your school district or from another website that you would like to share with others below, please comment.

Resources

Computer Troubleshooting for Teachers and Students- Home Page. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2017, from http://webpage.pace.edu/ms16182p/troubleshooting/home.html

Edmonds – Instructional Technology. (n.d.). Retrieved August 4, 2017, from https://sites.google.com/a/edmonds.wednet.edu/imd/home

Google Product Forums. (n.d.). [Forum]. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!home

Google Help. (n.d.). [Forum]. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from https://support.google.com/

Lindsay, J. (n.d.). How to Encourage and Model Global Citizenship in the Classroom. Retrieved August 5, 2017, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/global_learning/2016/07/how_to_encourage_and_model_global_citizenship_in_the_classroom.html?cmp=SOC-SHR-FB

Miller, A. (2015, May 11). Avoiding “Learned Helplessness.” Retrieved August 2, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/avoiding-learned-helplessness-andrew-miller 

Be Prepared!: Troubleshooting by Looking at Current Issues and Problems in Education Technology (ISTE Coaching Standard 3 E&G)

“Be Prepared!” I’ve never been a Boy Scout, but I’ve always liked their motto: “Be Prepared.”  And as I was considering this week’s prompt, “Given the opportunities for students and teachers to collaborate globally, how can we help them develop strategies to troubleshoot and resolve issues that can come with increased use of emerging technologies … Continue reading "Be Prepared!: Troubleshooting by Looking at Current Issues and Problems in Education Technology (ISTE Coaching Standard 3 E&G)"

Module 2: Collaboration Across Districts in Technology Selection

Collaboration Across Districts in Technology Selection

ISTE Standard 3 for Coaches

This week for my reflection on ISTE Coaching Standard 3 we were using this question to frame our investigation: How do we evaluate, select, and manage digital tools and resources for teachers and students that meet accessibility guidelines and fit within our institution’s technology infrastructure? I decided to focus on part of that question with my own investigative question. I asked: What is an effective process to evaluate, manage and select digital tools that solicits feedback and buy-in from teachers and administrators? This week I didn’t choose to focus on accessibility guidelines because when I read the standard it wasn’t something that initially stood out to me. Over the two weeks I’ve seen what my colleagues are going to investigate and I think I will come back to accessibility in another post, hopefully in the near future. Also I know that one project I will be working on this year is working to help make sure all websites of my new district are ADA compliant. That will be new learning for me and I’m excited to put what I learn into thoughts in a future post.

This week I decided to focus on the structure of technology adoption and approval of apps, software, websites, add ons and other forms of instructional technology that affect teachers and students. I’ve only worked in one district so I have limited experience, but it sounds like in talking with colleagues and some informal surveys my previous district was ahead of many others in their processes for approval of technology use. The one thing I always thought about was that the process you were supposed to follow and the website to check for approval was difficult to get to and not known by everyone. That is part of the reason that I wanted to write about this topic. So that led me to insert the idea of buy-in into my question. I was not really shocked to learn that “nationwide 51% of teachers select up to half of the education technology they use” (Johnson, 2016). I was never sure was our district technology portion of the website under advertised or if teachers just weren’t interested in whether or not the district supported a tool and if it was ethical to use with students. Is it something that they saw as important? Additionally, how many administrators were asking teachers about the technology tools they used with students and whether or not they were approved by the district, protected student privacy, made an impact on student learning? Those are some questions that are still lingering for me even as I try to record my leaning around this standard and topic.

Making an Improvement

So what could districts do to streamline this process? What could they do to include more administrators and teachers and spread the word about approved and supported technology tools within a district? One idea I like is to have a building technology team. It could be incorporated into the leadership team but if an administrator made sure that the team occasionally revisited approved technology and communicated that with staff members perhaps there would be more widespread use of those tools. Of course, administrators would either have to be given new information from the technology department or remember to review that information themselves. I think building it into a method of communication that already exists within the district infrastructure would make the most sense and be the least burdensome to all.  

Many of my other ideas come from two resources that I came across. The first resource is my professor for this class Ellen Dorr, she has worked with the technology team in her district to develop an impressive process and system of evaluations and surveys that lead to a recommendation from the school district along with a designated level of support that the district will provide for that tool.

Denver Public Schools also has a website, called The Academic Technology Menu, with a layout that seems easy to navigate for teachers and other staff members. I’ve included a screenshot of the main page below:

The main reason I thought to include the DPS resource is because it seems easy to navigate for teachers. Speed is key, the website has clickable headings that expand and lead to related web pages. If you click on a category like Math, you can even sort resources based on many different categories.

If you clicked on a main page heading like Curriculum & Content Solutions: Career and Technical Education you can even sort the results in useful ways such as by approval status, grade level, cost and type of technology. Those are some features that seems to make this website very friendly for teachers. I would think that the district worked hard to develop it in this way so resources would be easy to access.

One additional feature that I saw from Ellen and from DPS was a flowchart that explained the steps of the approval process. The unique feature that Ellen talked about and that I saw from DPS comes in the final section of the flowchart, where results are listed there are more than two options. As you can see there are tools that are not allowed, tools allowed with cautions, tools allowed and tools that are supported. The biggest clarification this gives, in my opinion, is that you can clearly see if a district will support a specific tool with PD or if it will not. Since some of my previous posts have been focused on what is next for Professional Development, I think that the mention of a tool being supported with PD or not is important for buy-in from teachers.

The last resource that I found to be relevant to my question of how to get the district, administrators and teachers on the same page with technology adoption and implementation was an article that isn’t actually about technology. The title itself is provocative, Listening to Teachers: How School Districts Can Adopt Meaningful Change. The article chronicles how a district in rural New Hampshire first listened to teachers then fully committed to professional development across the entire district to support and sustain the change that they wanted to see. The key takeaways for me were that administrators and teachers were able to attend the same professional development sessions in order to learn together. Then administrators were able to function in two roles simultaneously, they could coach teachers as well as evaluating them as they normally would. It doesn’t sound like it was an easy process for them but I think it would be valuable to have an administrator function as a coach (thereby non-evaluative) and separately as an administrator normally would. One other interesting point that was made is because administrators were so familiar with the problem based learning program they had implemented, they could collect student data that helped them to know if students were getting to where they wanted them to be. Additionally, they had identified behaviors they might see in students who were participating in a well run problem based learning classroom. I imagine that all of this learning could be equally powerful if a district focused on the 21st Century Skills or any number of outcomes that technology could help students and teachers to achieve.

Conclusion

If the ideal is that districts, administrators and teachers are all working collaboratively to identify and use technology tools in the most effective way possible in order to support student learning then I think that there is still work to do to achieve that goal. Having a clear process that is accessible to all teachers within a district is one important step. That process could be communicated in new staff trainings, reviewed at the start of each school year or made known to building level leadership teams to spread the process across the district. A flowchart for teachers to be able to see the steps of the process is helpful so they know whether or not to request an application or tool, and what will happen when they do. A district website that clearly displays approved and not approved tools is necessary so teachers know where to look for tools. Collecting feedback via survey or through another method is a key way to find out if a tool really is aiding student achievement. Student feedback is important as well, providing them surveys or another way to give their own feedback would help buy-in across districts. Finally, I think if a district is committed to a tool or resource then professional development should be required for all staff including administrators. Cohesion will be more far reaching if everyone understands key terminology, learning targets, processes for evaluating learning with technology like the SAMR model or knows the ins and outs of technology tools that have been adopted and supported by each district. These are some ideas that I think would allow all levels of a school district to work toward the common goal of integrating technology tools in a way that has a positive impact on student learning.

Resources

DPS: ATM Approval Process. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://atm.dpsk12.org/process.aspx

DPS : Academic Technology Solutions Menu. (n.d.). Retrieved July 23, 2017, from https://atm.dpsk12.org/

Johnson, K. (2016, March 15). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 13, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-15-resources-to-help-you-choose-the-digital-tools-your-classroom-needs

Schwartz, K. (n.d.). Listening to Teachers: How School Districts Can Adopt Meaningful Change. Retrieved July 12, 2017, from https://appserver-ec711ff6.c.pantheon-dmz.internal/mindshift/2015/08/11/listening-to-teachers-how-school-districts-can-adopt-meaningful-change/

“All Aboard!”- Accessibilty Guidelines and Digital Leadership Coaching

Equal Access [to Digital Education] for All! When looking at the prompt for this week’s EDTC6104 question, I was struck by a seeming discrepancy in the text of the question for the prompt and that of the coaching standard itself (ISTE coaching standard 3, indicator F). The standard/indicator calls for digital education leaders to “collaborate … Continue reading "“All Aboard!”- Accessibilty Guidelines and Digital Leadership Coaching"

The Worst of All Possible Worlds – ISTE Coaching Standard 3 and the Dystopian Future of Education?

“In a world…” And so begins the introduction to countless movie trailers.  We’ve seen them: psychological thrillers, sci-fi classics, action-packed blockbusters all use that famous three-word tag-line.  It’s become so ubiquitous that it’s become a parody of itself and is often used ironically or in satirical versions of these somewhat-esteemed genres.  And it’s a tag-line … Continue reading "The Worst of All Possible Worlds – ISTE Coaching Standard 3 and the Dystopian Future of Education?"

Can We Get on the Same (Web) Page? ISTE Standard 3 and Coordinating Digital Age Media and Formats

Direction or Freedom? Finding balance between freedom and direction can be difficult for a teacher and it can be even more daunting for an administrator – especially where technology is concerned.  I remember one of the first technology committees I ever served on. It was the late 1990’s (I’m old) and I was teaching middle … Continue reading "Can We Get on the Same (Web) Page? ISTE Standard 3 and Coordinating Digital Age Media and Formats"

Module 3: Collaboration with Parents, Student Motivation, and Success

Collaboration and Success

This week we were looking at the ISTE Standard for Teachers, #3 and specifically it seems to deal with parent communication or collaboration with parents, peers or the community. So based on my interpretation of the standards and conversations we had in our class that led me to two related questions. How does collaboration with parents, peers, or community members support student success and innovation? How can asynchronous collaboration or communication be used to increase parent, peer, or community involvement in the classroom as an aid to student success? Those two questions are obviously big questions, with complicated answers, but I think it is something teachers are constantly considering. As teachers we have limited time with students. Taking into account the different subjects, changing classes in middle through high school, state testing, other required assessments, daily interruptions to the regular schedule, not to mention absences, appointments and behavior challenges and the giant chunk of time we think we have is whittled away like a piece of stone for a sculpture. Without vision and laser focus it turns into nothing more than chunks of rock on the floor, signs of a missed opportunity. I know I have had years like that as an elementary teacher. I reflect on my year with a particular class or my work with a specific student and ask, where did the time go? It is difficult to measure what I have accomplished and I can be left thinking about missed opportunities.

In that respect partnering with parents and other members of the community to aid student success is particularly interesting to me for a couple reasons. First, if partnering with a member of the community or a parent does in fact provide additional motivation to students then it would likely lead to increased student success during the school year. I would likely see results in the classroom. There have been rare instances where I’ve felt like this has worked, or almost worked. One instance was this year. I introduced a student to a series of books and he started reading them like crazy. He went from reading fiction reluctantly to being a ravenous reader. He read nearly 20 short chapter books in just a few months or so. I was excited and I thought I had clearly communicated that excitement with his parents. However, I didn’t know that at home his parents were saying that the books he was reading were too easy for him. They were concerned that he needed to be reading more difficult books. Instead of partnering we ended up battling about appropriate level of reading for this student. Honestly, I just wanted him to be interested in reading so I didn’t push the issue too much, and he is still finding books that interest him. He is just reading more slowly as he tackles more complex texts. This week I’ve been reflecting on that story and I can’t help thinking that it was a missed opportunity. It might be that because parents in my class were not more familiar with the reading curriculum, this particular parent didn’t understand that there is complex work to do in a text in spite of the level of that text.

The second reason partnering with parents or other community members is so interesting and intriguing is that it provides a path for students to continue their learning outside of the classroom and beyond the school year. Robby Desmond writes in his blog post about some exciting possibilities that could come from partnering with parents. His perspective is that of an online reading tutor, but I think that his enthusiastic approach to involving parents should at least cause us to reflect on our own involvement of parents and community members. He suggests that exposing parents to the goals of lessons and a curriculum then parents will become a part of the learning process (Desmond, 2013).

An added benefit of involving parents and authentic learning is shared by actual students in the video about Expeditionary Learning (EL) at King Middle School. The school is unique of course, embarking on a 4 month investigation that is supported by teachers of different disciplines allows for deeper learning. Students are designers, creators and problem solvers. Through this project they use many of the categories of skills for deeper learning (Kabaker, 2015). It is hard to say whether it is because the EL approach to learning in general or specifically because of the parent integration at the end of the project but two of the students who are highlighted in the video reflected on their presentations in a way that seems to show that they positively affected performance. “This is live, you’re showing what you’re learning to other people, which kind of gives you something more back I think.” said Emma Schwartz. “You have to be clear and concise. Giving presentations is so important because it really arms you with skills that you will need later in life” shared Liva Pierce (EL Education, 2013).

Portland Maine Problem Solvers from EL Education on Vimeo.

At King Middle School, an EL Mentor School, teachers have swapped traditional curriculum for an unusually comprehensive science curriculum that emphasizes problem-solving, with a little help from some robots.

Do I think that it is possible (or even helpful) for parents to know absolutely everything that is happening in my classroom? I don’t think many parents want that. I’m not even sure how to provide that kind of access based on my current teaching. I feel torn between providing more information to parents to extend the learning like Desmond suggests and reluctant because parent involvement is never universal.

Ultimately I think in order to provide some kind of consistent communication that is beneficial to parents, teachers and students it needs to be a school wide implementation. I find that my communication is usually lacking often because of a lack of time. Maybe I haven’t given it enough of a try to see the way it can transform learning. In her article Linda Flanagan provides some ideas that really resonate with me as an elementary teacher. She says, “To make outreach more attractive to teachers, schools need to make communication central to the teachers’ work, not just an add-on to their growing list of responsibilities. In practice, that means making time during the school day for teachers to contact parents, Kraft says (Flanagan, 2015). That would help. In the meantime I have seen some beneficial aids to communication in recent years, Flanagan mentions text message based communication in her article and I think that Remind.com is a tool that is doing a great job of connecting parents and teachers through text messages. To me parent communication is one of those measures that is tricky to quantify. I know it positively impacts students but I’m still left searching for the best way to reach parents in a meaningful way while focusing on all of the other responsibilities we have as teachers.

Resources:

Desmond, R. (2013, March 12). Asynchronous Teaching, Helping Parents, and the Connected Teacher [Blog]. Retrieved from http://rossier.usc.edu/95468/

EL Education. (2013). Portland Maine Problem Solvers [News Video]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/68323188

Flanagan, L. (2015, November 17). What Can Be Done to Improve Parent-Teacher Communication? [Blog]. Retrieved from https://ww2.kqed.org/mindshift/2015/11/17/what-can-be-done-to-improve-parent-teacher-communication/

Kabaker, J. (2015, February 11). Supporting Deeper Learning in the Classroom. Retrieved from http://digitalpromise.org/2015/02/11/supporting-deeper-learning-in-the-classroom/

 

The Curious World of Curation – ISTE Standard #3 “Knowledge Constructor”

This week: a drink from the fire hydrant. For this module’s question we were assigned to look at ISTE Student Standard #3, “Students critically curate a variety of resources using digital tools to construct knowledge, produce creative artifacts and make meaningful learning experiences for themselves and others.” It was in this context that I was drawn … Continue reading "The Curious World of Curation – ISTE Standard #3 “Knowledge Constructor”"

Module 3 Reflection: Empowering Teachers to Create Effective Learning Environments

Overview

In my studies for my digital education leadership master’s program, I have frequently been reminded that effective teaching strategies are not dependent on the learners or the environment.  Specifically, many great teaching ideas I come across for my ninth grade classroom are just as relevant to a group of teachers learning about technology.  This realization has been especially apparent I as have been studying ISTE Coaching Standard 3 (Performance indicators e and g), outlined below.

ISTE Coaching Standard 3 – Digital age learning environments: Technology coaches create and support effective digital age learning environments to maximize the learning of all students.
E – Troubleshoot basic software, hardware, and connectivity problems common in digital learning environments
G – Use digital communication and collaboration tools to communicate locally and globally with students, parents, peers, and the larger community

These performance indicators call for technology coaches to help educators create effective digital learning environments.  To do so, classroom teachers must feel confident enough with digital tools that they can use them independently in their classrooms.  I initially responded to this standard as I normally do, thinking the solution was as simple as just showing teachers some cool digital tools and assuming that alone would be enough for them join the digital learning bandwagon.  With this in mind, I started my research by exploring the question: how can digital video, audio, and social media be used in professional development (PD) in hopes of modeling these platforms so educators can use them comfortably on their own?  However, I soon realized that the second part of this question, getting teachers to use digital tools comfortably on their own, was the essential point to address.

To create such an environment, technology coaches must first consider the end objective, to help educators feel motivated and empowered to embrace educational technology.  Coaches must also consider their learners who are teachers that may or may not embrace technology. With this in mind, coaches can work to create PD opportunities using the effective teaching methods educators rely on in their classrooms. If successful, coaches can empower teachers to confidently explore and implement digital learning tools independently.

Teachers as Students

Teaching teachers is scary.  Anyone who has had the opportunity to lead professional development for educators likely knows this to be true–if you disagree, please tell me your secrets!  Many educators, myself included, can’t help but judge “teachers of teachers” on their presentation methods, learning activities, and management strategies. How can we not when our own careers revolve around creating killer lessons and learning opportunities?  If we assume that most teachers get hung up on the delivery of professional development, it becomes clear that teachers of teachers must consider effective teaching practices used in the classroom when creating PD. When teachers are students, they expect to be engaged and leave motivated.  To help foster this, some questions to consider when before developing PD opportunities might include:

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Know your Learners

Professional development opportunities require a lot of forethought in order to be successful.  In the planning stage, it is vital to think think about the unique needs of your learners.  In any given PD session, the learners are not simply educators, but rather a diverse group of people with varying learning preferences and needs. Some may require accommodations to access the material, some may have significantly more prior knowledge of the content than others, some may be unmotivated to learn, and so on.  When providing PD, I have noticed a few common trends in participants which appear to hold some back from embracing new learning.  Below, I outline these trends and provide possible suggestions to address each.  While applicable to any learning environment, the trends and suggestions specifically consider learners participating in technology PD.

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Combatting the “Curse of Knowledge”

Technology coaches, among others who lead PD for teachers, are typically current or former teachers who have demonstrated exceptional confidence with using digital tools effectively for learning. These coaches, who often have a wealth of resources to share and enthusiasm to boot, also commonly share one potential fatal flaw, the curse of knowledge.  “The curse of knowledge”, as described by Christopher Reddy in Edutopia’s article “The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About”, is the phenomena that occurs in educators when they have such a strong base of content knowledge that they overlook the difficult and time consuming process it takes to acquire this knowledge.  Reddy explains that educators, “do not remember what it is like to not know what they are trying to teach” and therefore “cannot relive the difficult and lengthy process that learning [the] content originally took” (2015).  In creating technology PD, coaches must consider how the curse of knowledge might be negatively impacting the participants. Does the coach meet the learners at their level and build them up, or is the learning process overwhelming the learners? To address the curse of knowledge, Reddy offers several thinking points which are outlined in the Coggle mind map below.  While these points relate to teaching in a K-12 classroom, they are applicable to any learning situation. 


 

Future Questions

  1. For this module I had intended look at methods to empower educators to use video, audio, and social media in the classroom by using these tools in professional development.  In my research, I came across several resources (included below) on the topic.  I ended up shifting my focus a bit and would like to look back at my guiding question and address it more fully in the future.
  2. I ended up reflecting professional development as a whole rather than just on technology PD.  I think that most of my resolution is relevant to technology PD, but wonder what other points technology coaches should consider when creating PD opportunities.  

Resources

Arora, D. (2014, June 25). How to Use Social Media for Professional Development. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.socialmediatoday.com/content/how-use-social-media-professional-development

Davis, M. (2013, February 26). Social Media for Teachers: Guides, Resources, and Ideas. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/social-media-resources-educators-matt-davis

How to Encourage and Model Global Citizenship in the Classroom. (2016, July 19). Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://blogs.edweek.org/edweek/global_learning/2016/07/how_to_encourage_and_model_global_citizenship_in_the_classroom.html

Raths, D. (2015, June 17). 6 Ways Videoconferencing Is Expanding the Classroom — THE Journal. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2015/06/17/6-ways-videoconferencing-is-expanding-the-classroom.aspx

Reddy, C. (2015, December 18). The Teacher Curse No One Wants to Talk About. Retrieved August 18, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/the-curse-of-knowledge-chris-reddy

Frameworks for Selecting, Evaluating, and Managing Digital Tools

Overview

The Association for Educational Communications and Technologies defines educational technology as “[…] the study and ethical practice of facilitating learning and improving performance by creating, using, and managing appropriate technological processes and resources (Januszewski et al. 2008).  While mostly straightforward, this definition begs the question of what processes and resources are deemed “appropriate”, who determines them as such, and what is the process for doing so?  The “who” seems easy enough–according to ISTE coaching standard 3 it is the role of the technology coach to “select, evaluate, and facilitate the use of adaptive and assistive technologies to support student learning”.  Additionally, coaches should create collaborative spaces for teachers and administrators to select and evaluate digital tools and resources (2016). So, if it is the role of the technology coach to facilitate tool selection, how is this done?  

The “how” was much more tricky to answer. I know that technology coaches in my district share digital tools amongst one another and with staff, but I don’t know that there is much of a process besides, “I found this cool, maybe you would too?”  I’m sure many educators have come up with mental checklists for what they do and don’t want in a tool, but I have never been in a scenario where that was openly discussed.  In considering this, I choose to explore the question “What frameworks and tools are available to educators to select and evaluate digital tools?”  My ultimate intention is to start a conversation within my district on our process for selecting and evaluating tools.  To support this, I have compiled some of the main points I have come across in hopes of creating a foundation to start this conversation.

Selecting

In the rapidly growing atmosphere of digital learning, it can be extremely difficult to know where to begin when looking for a digital tool.  As is outlined in my Coggle mind map, one great place to start may be a website, such as the EdSurge Product Index or Common Sense Education.  These sites offer reviews of digital tools by educators and allow users to sort the tools based on subject, standard, platform, and cost, among several other factors.  With or without a specific tool in mind, a few ideas to consider are to…

  • Start with the end in mind.  What standards are you hoping to address?  What do you want the learners to produce?  Does the tool help you reach the intended outcome for the lesson or activity?
  • Ensure all learners have access to the technology. Do all students have access to devices?  What tools work well on those devices?  Will students need access to the internet at school?  At home?
  • Check your district’s technology policies.  What tools are aligned with your districts’ policies?  Does your district already subscribe to tools perform the given task?  Are there restrictions on which tools you can use?
  • Keep in mind learners that need accommodations and modifications. What digital tools will help you better address students who need accommodations and modifications?  Will the tool be valuable for these learners, or will it present new challenges?
  • Make a Checklist. While you may have heard about a really cool tool on social media or from a colleague, don’t forget that you need to choose one that works for you.  It is all too easy to try to force use of a tool because it is exciting, only to realize later that it was not appropriate for the task at hand.  It may be useful to make a checklist of the first factors you need to consider when looking for digital tools to help maintain focus.

My “checklist” is included below, which is from my recent blog post on selecting and evaluating digital tools.

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Evaluating

In addition to helping you find great digital tools, sites like the EdSurge Product Index or Common Sense Education provide extensive ratings and reviews and have therefore done a lot of the evaluating for you.  If their rating system is compatible with yours, you may be ready to experiment with the tool.  For a more individualized tool evaluation system, LearnTrials, an educational technology management system, is an AWESOME resource.   This site allows users to create a library of the digital tools, approve or deny tools for use, write reviews and ratings, explore new tools, and collaborate with other educators.  I see this as a great fit in my district as it could create a platform for teachers to keep the tools they use organized and share them with one another.

Another possibility for evaluating digital tools is to use a rubric or checklist. One of the best rubrics I have come across is the one below, based off of the SAMR model and created by Andover Public Schools Digital Learning Office.  I don’t know how realistic it is to assume that individual teachers would consult a rubric each time they looked at a new tool, but it could provide a good frame of reference.  Rather, a rubric may be more appropriate for a committee to use when making a group decision on whether or not a adopt a new tool.

Future Questions

  1. I am eager to learn more about the tool selection process in my district.  Has a rubric or evaluation process already been put into place?  Who is involved in the tool selection process for the major tools we use, such as our online gradebook or our learning management systems.  How often do these tools come under review?
  2. How can I compile my findings on evaluating digital tools into a resource for educators that is easy-to-use?  Would a rubric be sufficent?  Would simply sharing online resources be enough?  Is it better to give a few options for tool selection and evaluation, or stick with one framework?

Resources

ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards/standards-for-coaches

Januszewski, A., & Molenda, M. (2008). Educational technology: A definition with commentary. New York, NY: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Johnson, K. (2016, March 15). Resources to Help You Choose the Digital Tools Your Classroom Needs (EdSurge News). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-03-15-resources-to-help-you-choose-the-digital-tools-your-classroom-needs

Teachers Know Best: What educators want from digital instructional tools. (2014). Retrieved August 3, 2016, from http://k12education.gatesfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Teachers-Know-Best_0.pdf

Technology Integration Rubrics – Andover Public Schools Digital Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://sites.google.com/a/k12.andoverma.us/aps-digital-learning/technology-integration-rubrics

Zielezinski, M. B. (2016, June 25). What 7 Factors Should Educators Consider When Choosing Digital Tools for Underserved Students? (EdSurge News). Retrieved August 03, 2016, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-06-25-what-7-factors-should-educators-consider-when-choosing-digital-tools-for-underserved-students