Category Archives: technology

EDTC 6106 Module 5: Extending Tech PD Beyond Educators to Support Wider School Community

As I reflect on this quarter of my Masters in Digital Education Leadership, I feel I’ve truly come to question more behind the scenes operations of Professional Development in my district and become more inquisitive to answer questions not only for myself, but also for colleagues and our school community.  For my final blogpost this quarter, I again look at ISTE Coaching Standard 4b:

“Design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment”

This quarter has led me to consider not only how I can contribute to creating more meaningful PD for educators, but has led me to question how to improve collaboration with our community as well.

How do we move beyond school-based PD to engage local stakeholders and increase on-going opportunities to explore tech tools as a school-wide community?

What can we do?

As mentioned in my previous post, admin can create a tech team within the school.  This team may begin with the educators who actively use tech, but then should also include other interested stakeholders such as volunteers, parents, and community members (could be from tutoring or after school programs).  This also involves assessing what software is being paid for by the district and which licenses are being funded through the school budget. By having the tech team assess which software is being used, by whom, and the frequency, they can help administration make budgeting decisions for the upcoming school year and reassess future tech needs, PD for teachers, and support for families.

Collaborating with Parents and Community

Once schools have a clear picture of which teachers are using specific educational programs, the time comes to invite parents and community members to learn about how they can further support their children.  Creating a collaborative partnership with other stakeholders who work with our children not only reinforces the African proverb “It takes a village to raise a child”, but it also provides multiple opportunities for discussion.

Recognising the importance of collaboration in my own building, after recently hosting an event for ELL parents on technology, our initial focus was sharing how to log in to free district resources as well as academic programs teachers are wanting students to use at home.  With 17 parents attending our first session, they all had questions. With three staff members available for translation, we provided each family with a laptop, pulled their children in to show their parents what they know, and provided handouts on how to access resources again from home.  None of these parents had accessed the free district resources before, nor did they know some could be translated into their primary language. Having parents practice logging in with staff support was critical. In addition, a member from an after school tutoring program (outside of district) also attended.  She was ecstatic to learn which reading programs were available online for our students to use after school and wanted to also learn which resources she could recommend to families in our district.

Understanding that teachers may only meet with parents once or twice a year, but many of our families receive outside services, there’s work to be done to increase our partnerships to support student learning.  Recently I attended a conference with parents where we questioned if the student’s lack of oral expression is due to comprehension or language acquisition, we had a team of six people all wanting to see this young girl succeed.  In attendance were her parents (non-English speaking, but literate in Spanish), her tutor from an after school program who works as a liaison with many of our Spanish speaking families, a bilingual assistant from our building, her classroom teacher and myself. I came prepared with resources in Spanish that the parents could use at home to reinforce the reading questions we ask at school as well as made sure they know how to have their children log in to a reading program when away from school.  I quickly became aware that I need to work on collaboration when both the tutor and our bilingual assistant asked for copies of the resources and log in information to share with our other Spanish speaking families.  After our meeting, they both expressed how much it helped watching me model how to log in and how to use questioning at home.  It was a great reminder that simply sending resources home is not enough.

One strategy that is gaining momentum with Tech PD is micro-credentialing.   As districts use badging to encourage educators to take on more personalized learning, this provides another opportunity to review what tech is being used, it’s relevance, and how to share it’s value with stakeholders. Micro-credentialing also works as evidence for evaluations, which many educators are striving to identify each year. This is where administrators can also remind staff about family engagement and support.

How to Engage Stakeholders

In Saomya Saxena’s post, How to Involve Various Educational Stakeholders in Education Improvement, she refers to a 2008 policy brief released by National Education Association (NEA).  These recommendations really rang true for me as reminders of what we need to do beyond staff collaboration and PD.

 What’s Next…

Looking ahead to next year, I see several ways that the partnerships in my school can be enhanced in order to better align how we are serving our students.  I feel fortunate to work in a community that truly values diversity and that we have so many bilingual support staff available to translate.  After looking at a software analysis this Spring and what tech support our ELL families expressed wanting to learn, I feel my building is moving forward to meet more of the recommendations listed above.

Resources

Saxena, S. (2014, January 29). How to Involve Various Educational Stakeholders in Education Improvement? Retrieved March 10, 2018, from http://edtechreview.in/trends-insights/insights/894-how-to-involve-various-educational-stakeholders-in-education-improvement

Snyder, J. (2018, March 09). Software Asset Management Helps IT Pros Get the Most from Their Software Licenses. Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2018/03/software-asset-management-helps-it-pros-get-most-their-software-licenses

“3 Steps to Revamping K–12 Professional Development” (2017, December 01). Retrieved March 11, 2018, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2017/12/3-steps-revamping-k-12-professional-development

Van Roekel, D. (2008). Parent, Family, Community Involvement in Education. NEA Education Policy and Practice Department. Retrieved March 16, 2018, from http://www.nea.org/assets/docs/PB11_ParentInvolvement08.pdf

Project Evaluation of Edmodo Certified Trainer Course (ECT) at Edmodo

Project Evaluation of Edmodo Certified Trainer Course (ECT) at Edmodo – 2017-2018

ECT SWOT Analysis.jpg

This project is being conducted by Autumn Ottenad, Community Growth Manager at Edmodo. I am trying to figure out if the new Edmodo Certified Trainer (ECT) program which I recently revamped taking it from six to four weeks is successful because Edmodo wants groundswell, massive growth for the betterment of the community.

Executive Summary

This evaluation is formative in nature, which means that this information I’ve gathered and which I now present is not intended to determine the overall worth of the program.  Instead, this data will allow me to make some recommendations and comment on perceptions surrounding the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the Edmodo Certified Trainer program at Edmodo.

Important points that will be reviewed in depth in this report:

  • Educators feel comfortable to “train-the-trainer” and present about Edmodo and know that there are staff and peers who support them there.
  • Educators becoming Edmodo Certified Trainers (ECTs) would like to have colleagues and figures to whom they can turn for conversation and advice in their profession. 
  • Educators have high confidence in their ability to succeed in the classroom with Edmodo.
  • Educators who become ECTs have a high opinion of their influence/participation in their community and professional learning network.
  • The Instructional Facilitators and mentors of the cohort have communicated to the cohort that high achievement it is crucial and they are striving to provide it.
  • When these educators become ECTs, they would like more information about how Edmodo functions as a product and company.

Recommended Next Steps

Thinking ahead to future cohorts the decision at hand becomes how do we strike a balance between quality and quantity of the ECTs who graduate from the course? We saw the same drop off after week two of the previous cohort with a number of the participants as we did in the in this current cohort.  Kate B., the instructional facilitator, began to speculate a few different options for the future cohorts. Suggested Option A. Keep the same design of four weeks, producing high caliber, but few ECTs. Suggested Option B. Redesign the course again and trim it down to two or three weeks to create more, but potentially not as high caliber ECTs. Trimming to three weeks is doable, but trimming down to two weeks total may be problematic.  “Other than having to encourage Bobby, one of the mentors, to keep up with the scoring (again, I’m so disappointed in his lack of engagement), this cohort went very smoothly, and I think that the participants enjoyed it. Lidia, the other mentor from Argentina, was wonderfully engaging and the more active the mentors were in the group, the more the participants engaged with us. It would be interesting to reach out to those who did not complete the cohort and ask them to complete a survey about their reasons for lack of completion. I’d be curious to read their responses.  I was very thoughtful in the design of this course, but I also recognize that folks need to be motivated and stay motivated to complete the work.” I did reach out to those who did not finish the course or dropped out early on. My responses from those who dropped out first were mostly that they did not have the time to invest in the class at this moment or that they do not hold the product knowledge at this time to complete the ECT program at the level that they would need to find the course fruitful. For those who it was a wrong time I will reach out again for the next cohort to see if that one is better, and I wonder if the Summer would be better because they will have more free time.  For the few who stated they did not have the right amount of product knowledge I sent them the link to join the Certified Learner course which is our base level of the community and it is a self-paced 12 module course. I think if they went through this course on their own time they would become sufficiently knowledgeable about the product to then become an ECT.

Overall the changes that were made to the ECT program were positive, proactive modifications in my perception but we have to be able to scale the number of graduates without compromising the content and quality of the program.  I come with the educator background, so my guidance is always swayed by the fact that we are asking these educators to represent the company in the world without much supervision after this process and Edmodo needs to trust that the ECTs will serve the product well to any audience.  But I can also see the need for groundswell and the incorporation of a large ground army for the product so that Edmodo can have as many people trained sufficiently on the product as possible.

Bringing Computational Thinking to Educators Professional Learning

As I begin to wrap up my studies in EDTC 6106 Educational Technology Leadership for the DEL program our last inquiry asked us to explore; what does the ideal technology-rich professional learning program look like? From there I began to contemplate Computational Thinking again which is a common thread throughout my studies in SPU’s DEL program.  As Google for Education defines it computational thinking (ct) is “is a problem-solving process that includes a number of characteristics, such as logically ordering and analyzing data and creating solutions using a series of ordered steps (or algorithms), and dispositions, such as the ability to confidently deal with complexity and open-ended problems. CT is essential to the development of computer applications, but it can also be used to support problem-solving across all disciplines, including math, science, and the humanities. Students who learn CT across the curriculum can begin to see a relationship between subjects as well as between school and life outside of the classroom.” Applying CT to professional learning is an easy leap to make, and therefore my question became; how do we challenge K-12 stakeholders to take on the role of problem solvers in designing solutions for the next generation? I want the responsibility of integrating technology into the educational curriculum to be a shared job between everyone who comes into contact with the students.  It cannot only fall on the shoulders of those who are tech coaches or district tech leads because they are spread so thin.  All stakeholders must take a problem-solving approach to the issue of tech integration. 

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Furthermore, in Jennifer Groff’s OECD report Technology-Rich Innovative Learning Environments she explains under the heading of opportunity that, “once thought of as just a part of resources‘, we‘ve come to see how technology can be so much more than that. It can play a key role and at times a leading role, in all elements of the teaching and learning environment. Technology can shape, and reshape, who is the learner and who is the teacher. It can open up knowledge and content that otherwise would be less accessible, through access to open educational resources for example. It obviously is part of resources‘, but it is clearly integral to the 3 organization‘ component insofar as it offers a critical mediating medium for those relationships of pedagogy and assessment inherent in an organization” (2013, pg. 3). Therefore, we establish the crucial element of technology into the classroom and Groff goes as far to say that it should play a key or leading role because of its transformative nature.  If it takes a village to raise a child why is the goal of tech integration into curriculum put on just a few shoulders?  Digital Promise says As we bridge the digital divide in schools and homes across the country, we also should build educator capacity to ask students to take part in new and transformational learning experiences with technology. This will require more than sharing tips in the faculty lounge or after-school professional development for educators.” I think stakeholders who should get into the solution game are teachers, district admin, students, parents, interested companies, and government think tanks. 

Demonstrating the Scale:

The Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) illustrates how teachers can use technology to enhance learning for K-12 students. The TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, collaborative, constructive, authentic, and goal-directed (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). The TIM is an interactive rubric that shows the scale of integration from Entry level to the Transformation of a school to fully tech-integrated. The entry-level states that it is when “The teacher uses technology to deliver curriculum content to students.” Contrasting the transformation stage is when “The teacher cultivates a rich learning environment, where blending choice of technology tools with student-initiated investigations, discussions, compositions, or projects, across any content area, is promoted.”  If we know the problem and we have a rubric to compare our schools and districts against why then can’t we work towards a solution?

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The matrix is designed to assist schools and districts in evaluating the level of technology integration in classrooms and to provide teachers with models of how technology can be integrated throughout instruction in meaningful ways. While tech companies around the world are getting into the game of helping schools and districts out with tech integration. The Verizon Innovative Learning Schools directed by Digital Promise initiative for example “provides teachers and students in U.S. middle schools with always-available access to technology and empowers them to be content creators, adept problem-solvers, and responsible consumers of digital media and learning resources. We fully document the process so others can learn from the experiences of these schools.” 

Professional Learning Goals for Faculty now

  • Teachers should know how to leverage the device to increase student engagement, increase STEAM engagement/opportunities, increase tech proficiency (student/teacher)
  • Implement PBL model
  • Implement school-wide literacy strategies
  • Implement AVID strategies

Eventually, educators should know and be able to…

  • To utilize and demonstrate/model the use of schoolwide tech applications.
  • Identify additional tech applications that will enhance our practice and student learning.
  • Champion the integration of technology into student learning tasks.
  • Synthesize the school-wide initiatives into a comprehensive program.
  • Collaborate with other team members to develop schoolwide plans for improvement and accomplishment of goals.

So students feel empowered and be able to:

  • Create products and applications to demonstrate learning.
  • Lead learning around the use of technology.
  • Solve real-world challenges while demonstrating knowledge of content and skills that are required at each grade level.
  • Identify and explore careers that are applicable to STEAM topics/activities.

What are the next steps for developments of tech integration?

As we all know by now technology changes at a rapid pace. It is my idea is that if everyone involved takes a problem-solving approach to the issue and understands that they all share responsibility then the process can be a living process.  Continually updated lesson plans and videos added months and years from now will look completely different than they do at this moment. Districts and schools will be encouraged to use tech integration in professional learning and in the context of goal development and associated professional development planning. As we engage learners, technology needs to be woven throughout the curriculum so it becomes an integral part of the daily learning. Through regular classroom observation and targeted professional development activities, it is our hope that over time teachers will be able to effectively monitor their progress through a continuum of technology integration levels.

Resources:

Groff, J. (2013, February). TECHNOLOGY-RICH INNOVATIVE LEARNING ENVIRONMENTS. Retrieved March 14, 2018, from http://www.oecd.org/education/ceri/Technology-Rich%20Innovative%20Learning%20Environments%20by%20Jennifer%20Groff.pdf

Office of Educational Technology, Conclusion. (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2018, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/conclusion/
Verizon Innovative Learning Schools. (n.d.). Retrieved March 06, 2018, from http://digitalpromise.org/initiative/verizon-innovative-learning-schools/

Administrators Role In Tech Integration

This quarter in my Masters in Digital Education program, I’ve truly begun to question decision making behind the scenes and how those decisions are both shared and acted upon by district staff.  Continuing to look to ISTE Standards around Professional Development and Program Evaluation, I further wanted to explore how administrators advocated for technology needs in their building and create opportunities for all staff to actively participate in Tech PD.

A recent study conducted by SAM Labs surveyed 250 teachers in the United States and concluded that 78% felt they lacked adequate training needed to meet the demands of technology in their classrooms effectively (Bolkan, 2017). Of those surveyed, 82% felt classroom technology helps prepare students for future careers.  However, only 37% surveyed claimed to learn how to use technology during their free time.  This means that 63% of the teachers surveyed rely on Professional Development opportunities and coaching to explore how to effectively implement new technology in their classroom.

Administration Retention

A study shared by The School Leaders Network, found that principal retention is a national concern.  Their 2014 survey found that 1 out of 4 administrators leave their schools each year (Cohen & Pearson, 2018).  In addition, 50% of new principals quit during their third year.  With these trends, it’s easy to see how teachers are left waiting for strong leadership, or someone to advocate for what their building needs.

Not wanting to get too much into why this is an issue, I would like to add that our nation’s largest district, in New York City, has taken action to better support administrators.  Starting in 2014, they created a program that makes leaders out of veteran principals who take a year leave from their building to serve as a coach for other new administrators in their district. Each coach provides 8 hours of support per new administrator each month. This strategy not only offers support to the new administrators but allows the veterans to experience what is happening in other buildings as well.  In their first year of the program, they were able to raise retention of third year administrators to 75% returning for the fourth year ((Cohen & Pearson, 2018).

Again, this scenario of coaching administrators, is not necessarily happening nationwide.  Therefore it is important to understand that many districts still have high turnover, or frequent shifting of administrators from one building to the next.  This creates barriers for teachers feeling supported with new curriculum, tech integration, and the sense that someone is advocating on their behalf.

What can administrators do to better support their staff’s needs?

Given the data from NYC, administrators who feel supported are more likely to remain on the job.  Districts need to provide professional development opportunities for administrators in order for them to become or remain effective leaders. Administrators need to understand how to empower their staff to take risks and explore new ways of thinking and teaching.  Eric Patnoudes, a former teacher and instructional technologist, states that districts must have a unified vision for technology use that is explicitly shared with administrators and educators.  In his post Professional Development Isn’t Just for Teachers, he raises three questions for administrators:

  1. Are teachers required to integrate technology during classroom observations/evaluations?
  2. When we say “paperless classroom”, what is the actual goal?
  3. How should a district define student engagement, and can it be observed?

(Patnoudes, 2016)

Now assuming districts are offering Tech PD to administrators, how can they further support their staff? Edtech Magazine shared 6 Strategies to Help Principals Become Technology Leaders. Although this article was published more than a decade ago, the data above indicates we need administrators to offer more Tech support to staff.

Six great tips towards a shared vision of tech integration:

  1. Establish the Team – principal identifies teachers who are pro-tech and creates a tech leadership team to serve the school
  2. Assess Facility’s Needs –  Create a needs assessment for the school to guide the direction of the tech leadership team for Professional Development (working on this through a needs assessment right now with Instructional Assistants in my building.)
  3. Model Tech Use and Practices Principals can use PD sessions to model technology use (the article recommends admin model effective tech use on a daily basis)
  4. Recognise Effective I.T. Use Reminder that technology use should enhance student learning and is simply a tool.  Tech integration needs to connect to the student learning outcomes and be seen as a way for students to express their understanding in a way that would not be possible without the tool.
  5. Encouraging Excellence Admin should encourage tech use and promote best practices through having teachers share lesson ideas or create a video of what they’re doing. Some schools offer other incentives for best practices as well.
  6. Provide Support and Training Admin need to ensure staff feel fully supported with tech changes being placed on them.  Training needs to be on-going and provide multiple opportunities for staff to feel technology is effectively working for them, not just adding to their work day.

Looking Ahead

Administrators have such an important role in the climate of the school. For staff to take chances and be motivated to try new technology, they need to feel supported by admin.  In turn, admin need to feel supported by their district.  The stakeholders, whose tax dollars often fund technology, need to be part of the vision of the future.  Most importantly decisions need to be made in the best interest of the the student learners, how will technology enhance/support their learning in a new way.

When districts support administrators with opportunities to learn from each other, they can in turn model technology use for their staff and share the district’s vision for tech integration.  If needs are not being met, it requires administrators to speak up and advocate for change, to seek out alternatives that may better suit their student population. Too often technology is introduced through an email or one day PD session.  As PD becomes more personalized, staff need to feel their administrators are approachable and available for further training and support.  We know technology is not leaving the classroom any time soon.  It’s time for districts to be transparent with their vision of technology and encourage more collaboration around effective integration and support.

Resources

Bolkan, J. (2017, October 26). Most Teachers Say Classroom Tech Helps Students, but Teachers Need More Training. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from https://thejournal.com/articles/2017/10/26/most-teachers-say-classroom-tech-helps-students-but-teachers-need-more-training.aspx

Camera, L. (2017, December 20). Educators: We Need More From Education Technology … Retrieved February 24, 2018, from https://www.usnews.com/news/education-news/articles/2017-12-20/educators-we-need-more-from-education-technology

Cohen, E. D., & Pearson, M. (2018, February 19). Heeding the voice of school experience. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from https://www.districtadministration.com/article/heeding-voice-school-experience

Morrison B. (2006, October 31). 6 Strategies to Help Principals Become Technology Leaders. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2006/10/6-strategies-help-principals-become-technology-leaders

Patnoudes, E. (2016, July 07). Professional Development Isn’t Just for Teachers. Retrieved January 14, 2018, from https://edtechmagazine.com/k12/article/2016/07/professional-development-isn-t-just-teachers

Starr, L. (2009, September 23). The Administrator’s Role in Technology Integration. Retrieved February 24, 2018, from http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech087.shtml

Changing the Mindset of School Leaders Through the Empowerment of Instructional Coaches

I have recently explored ISTE Coaching Standarto try to understand how professional learning impacts explicitly the use of education technology. This week specifically I looked at the influence of school leadership or administration and how they influence the professional learning and educational technology adoption process of the staff.

Taking advantage of technology in the classroom makes the support of a proScreen Shot 2018-02-28 at 10.34.37 PMactive school administrator who should help facilitate, and organize along with the district instructional technology task force. Within chapter three of the Project Evaluation Report Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State entitled Professional Learning Requires Attention to School and District Culture Attending it states that “the “culture” of a school or district organization requires careful attention to a variety of indicators. Desimone (2009) articulates that professional development is not one-size-fits-all that can universally be applied across contexts.  As school leadership is examining how they approach professional learning they need to keep in mind that adults learn need to have the opportunity to approach the content in a variety of contexts.  Moreover, as administrators must take on several roles in the building they can’t always be focused on these different approaches to learning.  Therefore, how can district instructional coaches (or whatever you call them in your district) be seen by administrators to hold more of a leadershiprole. Renewed+Vision+for+Leadership_+Leadership+for+Learning

When I was perusing my latest installment of English Leadership Quarterly that is a part of my NCTE membership I found an article entitled “Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership” by Luke Rodesiler, Indiana University–Purdue University Fort Wayne.  This piece had a few gems in it regarding the thought process of leadership.  I know it mainly pertains to English teachers, but I think it can be applied to all educators Pre K thru Higher Education. Here is a quote “ I recognize leadership not as the product of a formal appointment in a top-down, authority-driven model but, like Lambert and colleagues (2002), as a reciprocal process embraced by those who see the need or the opportunity. This vision of leadership is not about rigid and unchanging hierarchies; instead, it promotes the boundaries of leadership as porous and flexible, allowing teachers to carry out acts of leadership as they see fit and as they are able. Additionally, for the purposes of this article, I recognize English teachers’ online participation as the creation of new content on the Web in an exploration of issues at the center of an English teacher’s work: teaching, learning, and literacy” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3).

Admins – Let Instructional Coaches Be your Marketing Team

Leaders who believe they can delegate the articulation of a vision for how technology can support their organization’s learning goals are those who will be the most successful in this reciprocal process. As district officials and school administrators do not have press relations managers nor do they employee marketing directors, they still need to communicate the districts message and brand.  It is important that those looking to move to the neighborhood understand who the school’s leaders are and how they will help their children. Rodesiler goes on to explain that when leadership is delegated one can “draw(n) from a content analysis of collected artifacts to document three acts of leadership embedded in the routine online participation of [English] teachers in the study: (a) making teaching practices public; (b) speaking out on topical issues in education; and (c) creating platforms for others” (2018, p. 4).  I think these three acts of leadership can lead to better job satisfaction for the administration, better community advocacy and involvement, and in the end teacher retention. 

Making teaching practices public

Before I started the DEL program at SPU, I was in need of finding people who were public about the teaching practice.  As an educator, it became crucial for me to communicate with people who were like-minded and I could find mentorship for my future.  This task required me to go online and seek these people out myself.  As I got more and more involved with Twitter and other public practices I witnessed how teachers “participated online, teachers in the study spoke out about topics tied closely to their work as educators, including curriculum decision-making, professional development, and the de-professionalization of teaching. In doing so, they took on the responsibility of adding their voices to conversations that all too often seem to be dominated by those outside the field of education” (Rodesiler, 2018, p. 3). As documented, the Web offers teachers multiple and varied avenues for exercising their influence and inviting others to do the same.  This evidence of influence can only help administrators and district officials make a case for the power of their school and their vision. 

Speaking out on topical issues in education

Although leadership in technology is needed across all levels of the education system, the need in PK–12 public schools is acute. Getting technology in schools is a multi-layer systematic change that takes budges and board members approval.  But it needs to begin to move quicker because as of 2017, twenty percent of school-aged children media consumption comes from mobile devices. Children’s use of electronic media is increasing, resulting in significant part from tech transformations, easy access to mobile devices, especially cell phones. Which meansThe majority of students may not be able to stop by the classroom after school but could interact with school while using some sort of technology. This can allow for real-time access to resources, due dates, and feedback.  On top of that  Did you also know…Only 58% of parents of school-aged children carried smartphones in 2010. Now 94% of parents of are smartphone users.  This means that the topical issues and the information being shared are happening online and on mobile devices. 

Creating platforms for others

Whichever tools the administrators condones for the educators to spread the great news of the district in school be it Twitter, Edmodo School Pages,  Facebook, Linkedin, or perhaps something like WordPress or another blog system like Medium. Demonstrating how administrators have used some of these platforms for positive career development should help persuade reluctant educators of their importance.  I believe that instructional coaches could take on the role of also demonstrating how educators can become their own advocates, self-promoters, and networking gurus if they are only willing to make their practice a bit more public.

Student Communication Tools

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA. http://www.k12.wa.us/CurriculumInstruct/WA-TPL/pubdocs/2016-WA-TPL-Evaluation-Report.pdf

Rodesiler, L. (2018). Toward Online Participation as Teacher Leadership. English Leadership Quarterly, 40(3), feb, 3-6. Retrieved February 25, 2018, from http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/ELQ/0403-feb2018/ELQ0403Toward.pdf

Educators Digital Citizenship through Global Collaboration and Competency

At the center of my current studies with the Digital Education Leadership program at Seattle Pacific University is ISTE Coaching Standard 4, which focuses on how professional learning can best support teacher practice and, ultimately, student learning.  And as the country recently suffered another tragedy in a public school shooting rampage.  I think that this post is poignant as it will talk about teaching digital citizenship and global competencies for educators is essential for the future of our students.  Both of these expectations help to create empathy and global awareness for our students and teachers which with this recent tragedy is relevant.

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In my early exploration, I derived that a big part of “digital age” best practices comes from digital citizenship.  Moreover, I recently was given the opportunity to speak at the TCEA Global Education Day alongside Dr. Ariel Tichnor-Wagner who is the Senior Fellow of Global Competence at ASCD. From her presentation, I learned how heavily ASCD has invested in creating a vast amount of materials that could influence educators to take on global collaboration. On top of that, when I think about the phrase “digital age” it makes me think of digital citizenship and netiquette which we all talk about in the classroom, but sometimes students feel freer when on a website to cyberbully a classmate or troll them.  So, therefore how can I make digital citizenship an important aspect of professional development with adult learners?

To bring it all together, I am going to approach digital citizenship through the lens of global competence.  I want to take into consideration the respect piece and know that professional educators are adults who understand at a logical level what should and should not go on the internet.  But perhaps they do not feel like teaching these aspects should be a part of their teaching practice.  Global competence is a way to connect my two ideas if teachers are influenced to push their teaching onto a worldwide platform by helping their students they will need to in-turn learn some newer components of digital citizenship.

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html
http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html

Because the competencies are multi-faceted and can get a bit overwhelming, I want to focus in on one under Knowledge: Understanding of the ways that the world is interconnected.  The fundamental connection piece in my mind is the word “interconnectedness” because the only way we will achieve this element is through our modern technology bringing us together. As field trips and vacations are becoming events of the past teachers must reach beyond their four walls.  Keep in mind that as Vivien Stewart, in ASCD’s Becoming Citizens of the World says, “To compete successfully in the global marketplace, both U.S.-based multinational corporations, as well as small businesses, increasingly need employees with knowledge of foreign languages and cultures to market products to customers around the globe and to work effectively with foreign employees and partners in other countries.”

Here are the two Digital Citizenship standard sets, the first for Students and the second for Educators. I think it is important to point out the “living, learning, and working in an ‘interconnected’ digital world, and they [students] act and model in ways that are safe, legal, and ethical” (ISTE).  While in the Educators standard 3a teachers should actively “create experiences for learners to make positive, socially, responsible contributions and exhibit empathetic behavior online that build relationships and community” (ISTE).  Therefore it is necessary for educators to know how to navigate social actions online with positive interactions.  Educators must also know how to demonstrate this social action to their students, connecting back to what Vivien Stewart states in her article that global competence “skills are necessary, of course, but to be successful global citizens, workers, and leaders, students will need to be knowledgeable about the world, be able to communicate in languages other than English and be informed and active citizens.”

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ISTE Educator Standards
ISTE Educator Standards

What can teachers do?

They can show global competence through action, demonstrations, and global collaboration projects.  It is crucial to mention that administrators must back-up teachers who are willing to connect with classrooms around the world and who have the technological wherewithal to reach outside their comfort zone to find these collaborative educators.  The undertaking is not easy but with the support of administration, it can become easier and certainly worthwhile for the educators and students.  It will help to have a large plan of what you want to achieve, but start slowly, one course or grade level at a time. “Involve parents as well as business and community leaders in planning and supporting international education and world languages. Focus on professional development for teachers, including partnerships with local colleges, so teachers can broaden and deepen their international knowledge.” Use international exchanges, both real and virtual, to enable students to gain firsthand knowledge of the culture they are studying. If it is unfeasible for students to travel, try technology-based alternatives, such as classroom-to-classroom linkages, global science projects, and videoconferences (Sachar, 2004).  In the Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State Report, researchers found that the “development and implementation of professional development at the school level impacts student learning” (Lumpe, 2016). These findings help build the body of evidence about the impact of professional learning and potentially adding in global competence to what educators should be taught so they can then go into the classrooms and teach their students.

 

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

A., & Stewart, V. (2007, April). Becoming Citizens of the World. Retrieved February 13, 2018, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/apr07/vol64/num07/Becoming-Citizens-of-the-World.aspx April 2007 | Volume 64 | Number 7 The Prepared Graduate Pages 8-14

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/contents.html

https://www.youtube.com/embed/52by-pLW4lo

http://globallearning.ascd.org/lp/editions/global-continuum/7934.html

Essential features of community platforms (Module 2, ISTE-CS 4b)

My main question by the end of my last module post was something like:

What features are essential for platforms which are hosting a PLC?

This module follows up on that question.

Recall that this quarter is all about investigating ISTE Coaching Standard (CS) 4: Professional development and program evaluation. For Module 2, I’m looking specifically at ISTE CS 4b – design, develop, and implement technology rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Communities of practice

Communities of practice, as defined by Wenger (1998), is not a theory of learning that is specific to adults. As I understand it, it’s a theory of learning that can be applied to all ages. (Though more recent reformulations of communities of practice – i.e. Wenger, McDermott, and Snyder, 2002 – focus on their applicability to the workplace, which can be assumed to be adult-focused. See Cox (2005) for more on the different formulations of communities of practice.)

In short, Wenger’s (1998) conceptualization of a community of practice is a group of people who develop and use a shared repertoire of tools to mutually engage in the pursuit of a joint enterprise. “Learning” is a form of identity development and done through learning to participate in the community – through developing a shared meaning of what the community is and what it means to participate. What it means to participate is inherently flexible and under constant re-negotiation; thus, participants are continuously learning by virtue of participation in the community.

According to Schlager and Fusco (2003),

Researchers and reform advocates consistently cite participation in communities of practice as an integral factor in achieving effective, sustainable professional development systems. … The recognition that communities of practice can play important direct and catalytic roles in teacher learning has spurred great interest in how to harness the power of communities of practice in the context of systemic school reform and professional development projects. ( p. 206)

For clarity, I should note that one critique of communities of practice – and therefore, implicitly, the related body of literature – is that Wenger (1998) and Wenger et al. (2002) conceptualize communities of practice in sufficiently different ways. Based on these differences, Cox (2005) suggests that people using communities of practice pick one formulation of the theory and stick with it; I suspect that much of the communities of practice literature uses the two conceptualizations without distinction. On a different note, Schlager and Fusco (2003), draw a distinction between communities of purpose and communities of practice, claiming that professional development communities are often better defined as communities of purpose; they also elevate the question “what counts as a community of practice?”

All this to say, unless indicated otherwise, I now approach the mention of communities of practice with the assumption that those speaking of it aren’t making a distinction between the two conceptualizations of it; and I wonder if there is a justifiable argument to be made for carefully combining the two conceptualizations in a way that better fits the communities that can form in professional development. Or to put it a different way, is there a way to justifiably redraw the boundaries of “what counts” as a community of practice, which draws on both conceptualizations, so that we can better “harness the power” of communities of practice in PD contexts?

Platform features that support online communities

The above critiques and questions aside (for now), and working from the assumption that communities of practice can support teacher learning in PD, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Wenger et al. (2002) actually made a list of seven “online facilities that are among the most useful to communities”:

(1) A home page to assert their existence and describe their domain [compare to joint enterprise] and activities.
(2) A conversation space for online discussions.
(3) A repository for documents, including research reports, best practices, and standards.
(4) A good search engine to find things in the knowledge base.
(5) A directory of membership with some information about members’ areas of expertise in the domain.
(6) In some cases, a shared workspace for synchronous electronic collaboration, or to enhance teleconferences with visuals.
(7) Community management tools… These might include the ability to know who is participating actively, which documents are downloaded, how much traffic there is, which documents need updating, and so forth. (p. 197)

I also found two other lists: one from Feverbee (2012), and one from Serrat (2017). It is unclear to me how these two resources generated their lists, and Serrat’s (2017) references appear to be incorrect/incomplete. However, I found no other resources to compare to Wenger et al. (2002).

Out of curiosity, I color coded the lists for like elements (I took liberties with what I counted as the “home page” element).

Colors are used to highlight like-features across lists. The list from Bond says: "Wenger et al. (2002) identified the seven online technology infrastructure considerations that are critical for knowledge sharing (1) a home page, (2) a conversation space for online discussions, (3) a repository for documents, research reports, best practices, and standards, (4) a search engine to find things in the knowledge base, (5) a directory of membership, (6) a shared workspace for collaboration, and (7) community management tools including page counters, participation tracking, etc." (Bond, 2013, p. 63). The list from Serrat says: "Contents • Home page: relevant information and news, latest news on the progress of related activities and projects, ongoing activities and online discussions • About the community: background information, expected outcomes and impact • News and announcements: news archives, email newsletter archives • Library (repository of relevant documents and tools) • Discussions (online discussions on particular topics of interest) • Members: list of members with background information and email addresses • Photo gallery • Links to other websites • Help (information on how to use the site and how to get assistance) • Contact us Tools • Search facility • Email this page/notify members of this page • Download and print this page • Optional: online chat facility, an events calendar" (Serrat, 2017, pp. 586-587) From <https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-10-0983-9_61#Fn3>. The list from Feverbee says: • "Discussion area. Members need a place in which they can interact. This will usually be a forum-based.  • Notifications. Members need to be notified when people have responded to their posts. This keeps members coming back. It sustains activity.  • Analytics. You need to be able to properly track what's going on. You need to know what's going on beneath the surface.  • Member profiles. Members need to create and use a consistent identity within the community. These profiles don't have to be overlook" (Feverbee, 2012) From <https://www.feverbee.com/essential-elements-of-community-platforms/>.
The image shows three separate lists of essential platform features for community platforms, from Bond, 2013; Feverbee, 2012; and Serrat, 2017.

The observations which I think are worth pointing out are:

  • there are only two features that show up on all three lists: a discussion space and a list of members.
  • if a feature showed up on only two lists, it did show up on Wenger et al.’s (2002) list.
  • “notifications” only showed up on Feverbee’s (2012) list.
My top three most important features
  • Notifications
  • Member tagging
  • Two levels of threaded conversation

Notifications is one of my top two essential features of communication platforms; the other being member tagging, which is related to notifications, and not on any of the lists. I agree with Feverbee (2012) that “members need to be notified when people have responded to their posts. This keeps members coming back. It sustains activity.” And tagging supports conversation by directing someone’s attention to a specific place.

I can’t say this feature is essential… but I think it’s extremely valuable: at least one extra level to threaded conversations. I think we can assume that most platforms have a commenting feature, which is the first level of threaded conversations – someone can make a post and that thread contains the post with its comments. So the extra level I’m referring to is being able to reply to a comment, giving you a second level of threaded conversations in that post. I think having at least two levels of threaded conversation is helpful because it supports linked (but possibly diverging) conversations by keeping conversations/responses more organized.

I couldn’t find a more recent academic list, but I do suspect that notifications and member tagging would make the cut on a list of essential elements of community platforms, and I suspect that I’m not the only one who sees multiple levels of threaded conversation as beneficial. I wish I could find a more recent academic resource on the topic, and without a formal study, I wonder what I would learn if I compared common features of the most popular social networking sites.

It would still be worth considering what activities people in PLCs engage in that make the PLCs successful, and then generating my own list of platform features from there (like I mentioned in my Module 1 blog post). Towards that end, Pappas’ (2016) blog post 8 Tips To Build An Online Learning Community would be a good resource to refer back to.

 


References

Bond, M. A. (2013). Constructing Guidelines for Building Communities of Practice for Supporting Faculty Professional Development in Electronic Environments (Doctoral dissertation, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University).

Cox, A. (2005). What are communities of practice? A comparative review of four seminal works. Journal of information science31(6), 527-540.

Feverbee. (2012). Essential elements of community platforms [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://www.feverbee.com/essential-elements-of-community-platforms/

Pappas, C. (2016). 8 tips to build an online learning community [Blog post]. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/tips-build-online-learning-community

Schlager, M. S., & Fusco, J. (2003). Teacher professional development, technology, and communities of practice: Are we putting the cart before the horse? The Information Society19(3), 203-220.

Serrat O. (2017) Building Communities of Practice. In: Knowledge Solutions. Springer, Singapore. Retrieved from https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-981-10-0983-9_61#Fn3

Wenger, E. (1998). Communities of practice: Learning, meaning, and identity. Cambridge university press.

Wenger, E., McDermott, R. A., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating communities of practice: A guide to managing knowledge. Harvard Business Press.

Personalization of Adult Learning in Technology Training

ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation

How do you get adults to be involved in the planning and evaluation of their online instruction?

My interest in this question stems from the fact that I want adults to take more interest in the process of their learning.  Specifically speaking getting in on personalized professional learning, and in that taking part in the planning and evaluation.  This is what educators are taught how to do so why not test it within their own learning.  From personal experience from starting the pro-cert process, the assessments and hoop jumping felt insulting when you are in a room full of professional educators.

Uncovering ISTE Coaching Standard 4: Professional Development and Program Evaluation b. Design, develop and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment.

Malcolm Knowles, a leading educator studying adult learning, made five assumptions of adult learners (Knowles 1984:12).

davidpol_1442811796_5assumptions.png

In Chapter 1 of Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report – Professional Learning Requires Engaged Leadership it supports the ideas expressed by Knowles in 1984; the results of the study support the principles of adult learning, indicating that adults value course designs containing options, personalization, self‐direction, variety, and a learning community. Findings also identify some differences in learning emphasis by gender, preferred learning strategies, and previous experience with technology and self‐directed learning” (Pg. 16).  

When looking at personalization for our students I found this article by Katrina Stevens Deputy Director in the Office of Educational Technology at the U.S. Department of Education is really a compilation of what several organizations have put together on the topic of personalized learning. Basically, Personalizing the Learning Experience: Insights from Future Ready Schools specifically how “each learner’s performance is measured. The type of learning experience determines the types of data that can be collected. For example, as learners participate in a small-group activity, the teacher might ask them targeted, open-ended, probing questions that will help in upcoming tailoring components of the lesson. When technology is used, performance can be measured continuously in real time.”

Why Personalize?

What can sometimes get lost in the focus on a consistent definition and process is the potential power and benefits of personalized learning, which are many:

  • When the pace of learning is adjusted for each learner, all learners have the time needed to demonstrate mastery.
  • When learning is optimized and tailored for each learner, and driven by learner interests, it can be more meaningful and relevant, which can lead to greater engagement and achievement.
  • When learners are given more choice, they tend to take more ownership of their learning and develop the academic mindsets, learning strategies, and self-regulated learning behaviors that are necessary for meeting immediate goals and for lifelong learning.
  • When learning is supported by technology, learners can receive more frequent and immediate feedback through formative assessments, quizzes, and checks for understanding with results provided to teachers and learners in real time.
  • With the right tools, learning gaps that impede progress can be identified more quickly, allowing learners to close those gaps.
  • The use of technology to provide teachers with the ability to tailor instruction to individuals allows teachers more time to provide targeted attention to learners who are struggling or who are progressing more rapidly than their peers, rather than being forced to “teach to the middle.”
  • When teachers can use technology to identify or modify existing resources more easily, teachers can then build stronger and deeper relationships with each learner and provide more resources for dealing with specific challenges. This can promote a greater sense of belonging among students by demonstrating that there are adults who care that they thrive.

Similarly, ThinkCerca’s blog writer Kelli Marshall wrote recently on Personalized learning and specifically  Why is Personalized Learning Important – “in which instructional environments are tailored to the individual needs, skills, and interests of each student – somewhat inverts the traditional teacher/student hierarchy. It gives students choices about how to learn based on their interests, abilities, and teacher recommendations” (2018).   I think when teachers/educators are given the opportunity to “tailor” their learning to what they like and know.

Finally, “When applied correctly, personalized learning can move mountains for students. It means that assignments and instruction are tailored to individual students’ interests, needs, and skills. It allows the teacher to bring in more robust, useful, and varied material into the classroom. It opens up probabilities for strategic groupings to allow students to learn better from one another” (ThinkCerca, 2018).

 

 

Resources: 

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

ISTE Standards. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/standards/standards

Marshall, K. (2018, January 18). Why Personalized Learning Is Important. Retrieved February 04, 2018, from http://blog.thinkcerca.com/the-importance-of-personalized-learning

Pappas, C. (2013, May 9). The Adult learning theory – andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles. Retrieved from https://elearningindustry.com/the-adult-learning-theory-andragogy-of-malcolm-knowles

Stevens, K. (2017, January 18). What is Personalized Learning? – Personalizing the Learning Experience: Insights from Future Ready Schools – Medium (Office of Ed Tech, Ed.). Retrieved January 30, 2018, from https://medium.com/personalizing-the-learning-experience-insights/what-is-personalized-learning-bc874799b6f

What does it mean for “technology to work for you”? (Bonus blog)

Something I feel like I’ve learned through my work in this program (Digital Education Leadership (MA) at Seattle Pacific University), which has drastically changed the way I approach and/or think about technology, is what it means for “technology to work for me.” It’s definitely a phrase I’ve heard, though I don’t know that I could identify where. It sounds like it could be a slogan or a motto or something: “Making technology work for you!”

In the past, it was a rather meaningless phrase for me, but now I feel like I have examples that shows what it means – though first, I’ll state what I think it means. And I want to highlight that my description might be no different than what it would have been in the past, before I felt like I understood; my understanding is not in my description, but in my ability to identify examples of it and in the way I now attempt to make technology work for me. My description:

Making technology work for you: seeing a task you need or want to do, and using technology to somehow improve or make possible the doing of the task.

My description is based on the accumulation of my work and interactions in my program; it’s hard to really cite anything specific at this point.

Example 1: Text-to-speech (tts)

I think I first understood this idea when I was working on my text-to-speech (tts) blog (here). To recap what that was all about: I needed to read a history book for a class, and I really needed to find a way to have it read to me because it was taking me a very long time to complete and retain the reading, unaided. I had never used that assistive technology before. I still had to read along while it was read out loud to me. At the moment, I don’t know how to explain the difference that it makes or why I feel like I need it, but my favorite tts reader that I found (a browser extension, compatible with Chrome and Safari, TTSReaderX In-Page Text to Speech) has changed the way I do the activity of reading. Sometimes I really need it and it makes me capable of getting through a reading. Sometimes I can read just fine without it. But the technology is working for me in the way that the tts reader improves my ability to read.

Another way I use the reader is to have it read my own writing back to me, to watch and listen for errors. I read that as a tip somewhere, and by golly, it works! I never post a blog without listening to it on ttsreader.com. No browser extension is needed to copy and paste into the website – again it’s built to work in Chrome and Safari. I say a silent thank you every time TTSReader works for me in this way because it is doing something I can’t do: voicing my writing, in not my voice, exactly as written. Technology is working for me in the way that it improves my ability to proofread my own writing.

Side note: TTSReader has a statement about not ever collecting any of the data you pass to their readers.

Example 2: Arranging pictures with associated text

My second example comes from a recent request. My mom asked me if I knew a good way to organize pictures with text. Specifically, she wants to have a picture of a piece of pottery that she made, with a description of the glazes she used, so that she can keep track of how she glazed a pottery piece and what the glaze looked like when done. Additionally, she wants to be able to print off these pictures+descriptions in a list-like way so that she can mark off what she’s sold when she does a pottery sale. What technology would be good for helping her do this?

Based on a few more needs and parameters, I suggested that she primarily use PowerPoint, and also use Facebook and Windows’ Snipping Tool (built-in program in Windows 7 and after).

PowerPoint allows you to group a picture and a text box so that you can easily move them around together. You can put multiple pictures+text boxes on one slide, and then print multiple slides on one piece of paper, making it easy to print a “list” of pictures+text.

My mom would use Facebook as a way to quickly save a picture and text on the fly. When she’s in the studio, she can make a private post to her FB page (so that her work is only visible to her), with a picture of her piece, and she can either write her glaze recipe right then, or later. Then she can easily copy the picture and text to PowerPoint once she’s on her computer. (And she can move that picture into a private FB album to keep her pictures organized on FB.)

She can use the Snipping Tool to snip the picture+text from PowerPoint, to make a picture which includes the text box in the picture itself. I’m not sure the exact reason she wants to be able to do this, but the Snipping Tool is a great way to do that on Windows computers.

In this example, my mom has a few things she wants to be able to do, and we tried to pick a few programs that could work together to suit her needs. We’re making technology work for her by trying to optimize her ability to save, organize, and print her work through the use of technology.

Closing remarks

Again, the difference in my understanding is hard to articulate. It’s not like I wouldn’t use a tts reader or be able to help my mom find tools that help her accomplish her task without this “new found understanding.” But I am much more active in the way I try to make technology work for me. I think harder about how different steps in my task could be optimized or made easier, and I think harder about my needs. I feel like I can imagine more. I feel encouraged to dream up what I could do, instead of recall what I can do. And isn’t that what cutting edge technology is all about?: dreaming up what we could do if only there was a piece of technology that did x, y, and z.

Educational Technology or Tech Instructional Coach within a specific subject area? EDTC 6106

For the past couple weeks, I have explored ISTE Coaching Standard 4b – Design, develop, and implement technology-rich professional learning programs that model principles of adult learning and promote digital age best practices in teaching, learning, and assessment. To try to understand how professional learning specifically impacts the use of education technology.

Our learning objective for this module expected us to “explore best practices in educational technology professional development.” I directed my learning towards the question of why should professional learning surround educational technology and not interweave EdTech with instructional development? 

I have recently heard from several districts around the US through our ECT program that they are moving away from whole stand-alone EdTech departments and going towards having one person dedicated to EdTech in each major subject at the district level.  I think it demonstrates the changing times for technology as it has become so crucial within education that separating education and technology is simply doing a disservice to the students.   In a recent article by EdSurge News “Why Every School’s EdTech Department Should Make Themselves Obsolete,” Nate Green states this exact hypothesis basically there might still be a need for a whole team to be dedicated to just technology integration but soon the whole department should make itself obsolete because the other instructional leadership teams should be self-sufficient when it comes to technology integration. As Green states “The biggest problem with the Technology Integration Specialist (TIS) is that as soon as a school hires one, it sends a message to another faculty that they no longer have to strive to be proficient in this area since it’s someone else’s job. Teachers may miss opportunities for sharing and collaboration with colleagues around using technology in the classroom—that to do so would be to encroach upon or duplicate the TIS’s work” (2017).  It is important to create a group of teacher tech ambassadors, professional learning for teachers by teachers, change EdTech Leaders and TIS to instructional coaches. 

Then to corroborate these findings Bishop also explains in the “Evaluation Report”, “the very definition of leadership is changing to include a broader array of people whose title may not associate them with leadership responsibilities, even though they express the language and action of leaders engaged in the work of improving learning” it may not mean that they will be in the traditional educational leadership roles like Principals, Deans, and Assistant Principals.  These new instructional or subject area facilitators should be coaches amongst the staff who know district approved software or hardware in-depth and can serve as a new level of leadership.  With the help of the Gates Foundation and several other contributors, the “Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State Project Evaluation Report” logically and empirically suggests ideas that teachers have thought all along in Washington state.  Anecdotally as I was reading this report it became abundantly clear that several of the findings were just so logical if you have lived in the US public school sphere.  When those professionals who are not in public school education want to approach a district-wide problem and they suggest the easiest possible solution it is sometimes difficult to explain why implementing the easiest solution will be difficult. The purpose of the report was logical as an example of these easily proposed plans that at the beginning they would “engage leaders in the work of developing effective processes and support structure to create a culture of collaboration that would positively impact educator knowledge and skills to improve student learning” (8). But in the end not so easy to implement changes like these instantaneously. 

As Bishop and colleagues found while putting together the “Evaluation Report”. The necessary multi-layered process and protocol that would simultaneously need to change to create a new system were not so easy to execute in real-life or real-time. These inner district interconnected systems would be assisted if the new “teacher leaders” status the state would put into place they should also adopt specific universal standards for professional learning for educators.  Even though The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation provided 2.4 million dollars to fund a three-year project to support professional learning there were several limitations that even this amazing organization was not ready for in terms of Limitations 

1. Student achievement data at the K-3 levels is limited. 
2. Fidelity of the professional learning initiatives is outside the control of the evaluators. 
3. The ability to generalize findings outside of the selected districts is limited. 
4. The disaggregation of SAI2 data by evaluators is limited to the school building level. 
5. The SAI2 and other relevant teacher data can be connected to individual teachers for statistical analyses (with anonymity maintained). (15) 

Despite the limitations the purpose and outcome are worthwhile because “When carefully designed and thoughtfully applied, technology can accelerate, amplify, and expand the impact of effective teaching practices. However, to be transformative, educators need to have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of technology-rich learning environments. In addition, As the US Department of Education states in their Office of Educational Technology Introduction, the roles of PK–12 classroom teachers and post-secondary instructors, librarians, families, and learners all will need to shift as technology enables new types of learning experiences.”

And although there still lies some resistance to change in terms of educational technology I think most are coming to the conclusion that students’ lives are better off in the long run if their education includes technology.  But “to inform these adjustments at every level within the system, educators needed a deeper understanding of how data could be used to inform decisions as well as the individual practices of educators” (11). Even though the idea of a singular educational technology department may be going to the wayside I think this is a sign of advancement because it means that each subject might be begrudgingly accepting that they use technology and might benefit from someone who is on their team but also is an expert in tech.  But “for these systemic changes in learning and teaching to occur, education leaders need to create a shared vision for how technology best can meet the needs of all learners and to develop a plan that translates the vision into action” (2017). 

Resources:

Bishop, D, Lumpe, A., Henrikson, R, & Crane, C. (2016). Transforming Professional Learning in Washington State – Project Evaluation Report. Seattle Pacific University: Seattle, WA.

Green, N. (2017, December 11). Why Every School’s Edtech Department Should Make Themselves Obsolete – EdSurge News. Retrieved January 08, 2018, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2017-12-11-why-every-school-s-edtech-department-should-make-themselves-obsolete 

US Department of Education (Ed.). (2017). Introduction of Office of Educational Technology. Retrieved January 18, 2018, from https://tech.ed.gov/netp/introduction/