Final Project Part 3

Wow…has this project been an undertaking.  Throughout this semester and tackling this project, it has morphed from a simple idea in my head into a project that has taken a lot of time and effort to put together.  In saying this I have enjoyed every minute of it and have learned a great deal about using technology in the classroom and sharing what I have learned with others.

(source)

Ultimately through this experience my goal was to educate the teaching staff on the benefits of the use of social media in the classroom to create more engagement from the student body.  I planned to educate my staff by holding 2 PD sessions, one focusing on positive aspects of social media use in the class and the second being using social media to reach out to professionals to help add depth to your lessons. I have officially gone through with these PD sessions and they have gone extremely well.  I have got positive feedback from my colleagues, as well as constructive criticism that has helped me grow as an edTech leader.

Since my last blog post I have decided that for my project I did not only want to present to my staff, but I wanted to make a manual that would allow other edTech leaders to present my findings to their own staffs.  I have realized how hard it is to find a starting point, and I wanted this manual to be of assistance to those that are hesitant but want to get involved in edTech leadership. I do not intend for this manual to be a step by step how to, but instead a supplementary manual for teachers looking to get involved.

Within my last assignment, I was offered feedback that I need to think how my project would be able to impact other stakeholders. I really struggled with this, because my idea ultimately was meant strictly grass roots and my teaching staff.  I wanted to create something that would have an impact on the learning of the students within my school. After reviewing this process I do want to create a document that will reach all stakeholders with in the education field.  I want everyone who has access to this document to be able to get something of use from it.

Throughout this process I quickly found out that there are a wide range of experiences with technology within teaching staffs.  I found teachers ranging from very knowledgeable (some even more then myself) to teachers knowing very little about technology.  This was a challenge in its self because I was teaching things that I took for granted and instead I would have to explain “simple ideas” thoroughly to the some in the group.  This has also helped me with my final product in the sense that I need to be more specific in my detail when making my manual.  There will be a high probability that the users of my document are going to be those who need more explanation.

I see the light at the end of the tunnel…..

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Unit 6 – International Level

Within unit 6 we were asked to look at numerous articles dealing with educational technology on the international level. Our adventure began by comparing edTech internationally to a trip that we were planning to take.  In our introduction video to this unit Kirsten explained that the metaphor of planning a trip fits in perfectly with discussing edTech on a international level.  She discussed five elements of comparison; 1) Context – where is this happening, 2) People – Who is involved in this initiative, 3) Timing – time frame of when this is happening, is it relevant during this time, 4) Impact – what impact does this issue have, and 5) And more.

When reading through the articles we were assigned one story really intrigued me, the story of the Los Angeles school division offering to buy iPads for every student attending their schools from kindergarten to grade 12. I found this story to be fascinating for two specific reasons. The first being that this was a major attempt at the undertaking of a advancement of technology in education and I had no idea it had ever happened. The second reason being that it was a major flop and a very short lived experience.  For those two reasons I have decided to dedicate my blog post specifically to this story.

Like I stated earlier the undertaking by the prominent school division in Los Angeles failed because I believe they did not plan their trip appropriately.  First off, like Kirsten stated you need to know the context of the situation.  I believe a major impact in deciding to go with iPad, was the popularity of the product.  It has been said that many think that Apple was given preferential treatment and the FBI is looking into it. In one article it was stated that iPad may not have been the best tool for education but was known as the best all in one device. Not only were iPads maybe not the best choice, but they were also given unfinished versions of the curriculum and product (source). Another driving force to bring technology to LA schools was the super superintendents goal to close the technology gap (source), forcing the technology to be rolled out earlier then it should have been.

When looking at the people who were impacted by this decision I believe there were two major players. The first being the students.  When rolling out this plan the division under estimating the ability of a generation who has grown up with technology.  The division put into place safeguards, but the students had bypassed those within weeks of the unrolling of the iPads.  This allowed them to use the iPads for purposes that they were not intended for.  Ultimately this was the downfall and the reason that the iPad initiative ended. When planning this “trip” they did not account for their students ingenuity.  The other people who would have been drastically impacted by this technology push would have been the teachers. In the articles it was stated that teachers were claiming the technology and material provided was not usable and not user friendly. I also believe that without proper professional development this could not be a success.

Timing played a roll in this decision as well.  With the superintendent wanting to push the advancement of technology within their school division, I do not believe this decision was given enough time to be successful. Not only in the amount of time to put the material in place, but also the time they allowed to work out the bugs.  I do not understand all the details, but I feel as soon as a small number of students passed the safety the iPads were immediately pulled from the program.  With everything there will be growing pains but this was not given the opportunity.

This story had a major impact not only on the people involved, but on a global scale as well.  This has now become the what not to do story for other school districts.  This event impacted everyone involved, including the big players such as Apple and the school division.  Ultimately though the greatest impact is at the grass roots level, the students.  They believed they were being given a great opportunity and then it was taken away.

Although this story has an negative outcome, I do believe that technology can be used on an international scale in a positive way.  Within my classroom I have used technology to reach out to others around the world to get experts ideas or share ideas with other classrooms.  A great example of this is the Global Read Aloud, having communities around the world work together in a cooperative way to share ideas and opinions.  Or reaching out to professionals for their expertise to better engage students via skype or twitter. The use of technology on the global scale is endless and I believe that we move forward education is going to become much more of a global connection.

   

Unit 5 – Provincial Level

Saskatchewan Ministry of Education

Throughout reading the three sources that were provided, there was one idea that stuck with me. The topic discussing the importance of the integration and effective use of technology and how it is  vital to Saskatchewan’s teaching and learning environment in making successful learners (from Technology In Education Framework).  I fully agree with this statement and with the premise behind incorporating effective technology in the classroom. Society is going the way of technology and it has now become the school’s job to teach proper use of technology and to use technology to enhance lessons.  The problem with this premise is the idea that a large portion of teachers do not have the knowledge or capability to teach engaging lessons using the technology that they are familiar with.  For this framework to work there needs to be professional development geared towards technology in the classroom for teachers.  If schools are anything like the school I am teaching at, there are teachers who are afraid to use technology because their students are more capable then they are. Professional development would go a long in enhancing technology within the classroom.  This is where technology leaders within the schools could have a major influence within their school and among the staff. Within my major project I have begun to teach my staff the importance of technology and social media use within the classroom, I was wondering how I could incorporate the Provincial level within my project, but I now know that it seems to fit within the framework of technology in education proposed by the ministry.

https://www.saskatchewan.ca/government/government-structure/ministries/education

 

I believe there is a huge disconnect between the Ministries ideals of technology and the realities of technology in the classroom.  The Ministry refers to technology as the great equalizer in education or among students. I feel that often it can be seen as a divide among students and even schools.  Often schools will have better access to technology depending on the socioeconomic situation they are facing.  Although I do agree it can offer opportunities to individuals who sometimes cannot access the education they need, but this is only if they have proper access to the technology that they need.  Also schools differ on there belief of having BYOB devices allowed in there schools.  I believe that in the Ministries framework they use a blanket framework that will not work in all schools.

Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools is a document that I am much more familiar with and appreciate the language and premise of it much more than the first document.  I feel that this document is offering valuable insight on how to fix an already existing problem and giving advice on action to take.  I used this document in my EC&I 832 class for my major project. I used the document and Ribble’s 9 elements to create a platform to teach students on how to become better digital citizens.  I prefer this document because it does not state what needs to be done, but instead offers solutions on what can be done in the classroom. I believe that teaching digital citizenship to middle schoolers can be a daunting task because often they know more about technology then you do, but this document is a great starting point to get started. This document offers great ways to implement their ideas, it does not tell you what needs to be done and offer no way of obtaining this goal. I believe that this document has value for any teacher that might come across it.

 

Major Project – Part 2

As I move forward with my major project I have quickly realized that everyone’s ultimate goal is the same, to use technology to better educate our students.  The major difference between projects is the route we are taking with this technology to get to this goal.  Within my project I plan on working with my staff to use technology, specifically social media, as a tool to better enhance the learning of our students. Throughout this process my vision has remained the same, but there has been many tweaks along the way.

When heading down the path for this project I was at a loss.  I knew I wanted to focus at the school level, but did not know what St Mary School needed from me in regards to technology to make our school a better learning environment for our students.  Like I stated in my previous post (Major Project 1), I decided to poll my staff to help find issues that they thought needed to be addressed at our school.  In the end I have narrowed it down to one issue that our staff addressed and that was using social media in the classroom to better engage and enhance the learning of our students.

Another important aspect of my project, after great advice from Stephen Wihak, was to include only those who wanted to partake in the technology education.  This would allow those who volunteered to be excited about the initiative and eliminate negativity from those that did not want to partake.  I feared that being on a small staff (only 10 teachers) that I may not get enough interest to have a successful project, but to my surprise 5 teachers plus myself were willing to join in.

After identifying those that wanted to learn and use social media more effectively in there class, I decided to hold a short meeting with the group to address and identify what I had envisioned this endeavor might look like.  My plan was to hold two PD opportunities for my group focusing on how to use social media to create a more engaging learning environment and how we can seek out professionals on social media to help teach content within our classes.  I also talked about the SAMR model and how it has been discussed within our lessons of the importance of not using technology just because we have it, but instead to use it as a tool to strengthen our already solid lesson.  To my surprise no one had ever heard of the SAMR model and our first unofficial lesson had begun. It was also where something really interesting and insightful happened. Everyone started to talk about lessons where they had used technology, lessons where they had used technology in poor ways and lessons that they had used technology in positive ways.  Teachers started sharing websites they had used that had helped to teach great skills and lessons.  It is not exactly how I envisioned it, but it was a great start to collaboration and sharing of ideas. It also lead to another great idea that I agreed to see if I could get going, a website or sharing service where the teachers at our school could share websites, social media or any other forms of technology with each other to help each other out.

As this project continues to grow, many changes come my way. Although they are not intended they seem to add layers to my project and hopefully add to the learning for my staff and ultimately enhances the learning of our students.  I look forward to working on this project and working with the wonderful staff that has agreed to help me out!

Unit 4 – EdTech Leadership Issues at the School Division/Alliance Level

Within this weeks blog post we have been asked to focus on some of the leadership principles that have been effectively implemented within Regina Catholic School Division and Sun West School Division. Throughout listening to both divisions technology initiatives I was intrigued and inspired by what they were doing at their schools.  It forced me to take a hard look at the way that I was using technology within my classroom, am I using technology first and shaping my lesson around the technology or am I using a good pedagogical approach and using technology as a tool to help engage and reach all of my learners?  After listening to both interviews I am honestly going to look into attempting to implement some of the strategies and principles that both divisions were offering into my school and classroom.

Within his introduction video, Stephen discusses how he believes that it is near impossible for a principal to be the ed tech leader within their school simply because they have too much on their plate already.  This is a premise that I had never thought about, but makes complete sense.  Not being an administrator yet I feel that this would be a role that I would be interested in within my school.  Although it would not be a formal role (as of yet) I think it is a role that needs to be addressed.  Stephen also discusses the idea of distributive leadership, I am a huge believer in this. I feel that as a leader of any kind it is your job to put people in roles where they will be successful and give them jobs that their skill set is best suited for and then help them in anyway that you can.  Although a principal is not one that would be best suited for ed tech leader, I do feel that it is their role to support that person in anyway they can.

Regina Catholic School Division

There were many things that I enjoyed listening to in Bart Cote’s interview. The biggest takeaway from his interview in my opinion was when he talked about how technology should be used in the classroom.  His belief that for technology to become effective in the classroom the teacher still needs to focus on good pedagogical approach and use technology as a tool to help create a more engaging lesson. Making sure you focus on objectives first and make technology fit second.  He explained that it is important to understand that if you do not change the lesson plan, but do change the use of technology… there still is not successful change.

Also listening to his interview was the first time that I was introduced to the SAMR model.  I found it very similar to Blooms but for the use of technology.  It was a great tool to gauge how the use of technology is impacting your teaching. I started to question if I was spending too much time in the substitution area of the model.  Throughout Cote’s entire interview I was continually evaluating my use of technology in the classroom and was evaluating how I could get better.

I also found the idea of connected educators as a breath of fresh air.  Often teachers are asked to implement technology into the classroom or into their grading, but not given any insight or PD on how it works.  Giving teachers who are willing an opportunity to work with like minded individuals would be a benefit to any division.  Not only would it improve those teachers technology use, but it would give other teachers someone in the division/school someone to ask questions to or get help from. Most importantly connected teachers would create a flexible learning environment that would benefit their students.

Sun West

I really enjoyed the idea of empowering and engaging students through the use of technology. Creating an opportunity for every type of student to be successful by catering to their learning style.  Traditional classrooms are designed to reward only one type of student while pushing aside your non-typical learner.  Sun West’s Pebl learning principle changes the way students learn and grants students who are not typically successful in a traditional classroom a chance to be successful.

Sun West Electronically blended learning allows the classroom to use technology in a way for students to track and create their own path to learn. Technology is only becoming more prevalent in society and this schooling allows students to understand how they learn best.  This also will show them how to use technology in appropriate ways.

Part 2 – Image 

Image # 1 

student use of technology

Often in the education field we become very narrow minded when using technology.  I found this image from Couros, G. (2015). The Innovator’s Mindset: Empower Learning, Unleash Talent, and Lead a Culture of Creativity to be very relevant when discussing some of the issues at the division of EdTech at the division level. When using technology often it is used as a learning outcome, often teachers are more concerned with whether students can create a blog or prezi instead of the content. When using technology in our classroom we need to use it as a tool so our students can become more engaged and take ownership of their learning. The idea of technology should not be what our students produce, but the learning that takes place while using it.  We want to create inspired and mindful students who know how to use technology as a tool to shape learning and inspire others.

Like Krista mentions in her blog post the necessity of EdTech has taken a back seat due to Provincial budget cuts. Although technology is still alive in the classroom, there is no longer the money to support teacher on how to properly use technology as a teaching tool.  Within numerous school divisions teachers are given the opportunity to use technology, but are using it incorrectly or are to intimidated to use it at all.  Most teachers will spend the majority of their teaching careers in the substitution arena of the SAMR model because they do not know how to properly use the technology granted to them.

Major Project – Starting Point

Throughout my teaching career I have not always been a huge proponent of having technology within my classroom and more specifically in the hands of my students.  Early in my career I was under the belief that technology can become a distraction in the classroom and lead to needless problems that arise from having students on social media.  It was not until my Masters journey and PD opportunities on technology that my belief system towards technology has changed. I now believe that technology is not going away, but instead it is only going to become more prevalent in our classrooms and society. With this in mind I feel it necessary to have our students engage with new technology and teach them how to properly use that technology so they can be successful in our ever advancing society. This idea has lead me down the path to my idea for my major project in EDL 820.

When I discovered that I was going to be embarking on this project I decided to poll the teaching staff and principal of my school to find out what I could do to help our school in the realm of technology. After talking to all teaching staff many issues became apparent, two glaring issues stood out that could either be solved using technology or involved the use of technology. First, was the idea of communicating with parents or more specifically getting parent involvement within the school and buy in with their child’s education.  Within my time at my school it has been clear that it is very difficult to get parents involved in what needs to be done outside of school to help their child become successful.  I believe that with the use of technology we could create proper communication avenues and create stronger relationships between teacher/school and parent. The use of technology would also give teachers a better opportunity to share what is going on within the classroom on a daily basis.

The second issue that became obvious were the teacher’s views toward social media and the negative impacts it brings to class.  Numerous teachers were hesitant to incorporate social media in their classroom because they only saw the negative stigma behind its use. The problem with this view is that social media is not going to go away, but instead it is going to become more prevalent.  Teachers feel threatened for the simple fact that they are unaware of what platforms their students are on and by the time they know how to use it their students have moved on to other platforms.

After submitting my idea for my major project I was given valuable feedback on things that I might do to have a better chance for success. First, I was offered advice in narrowing my idea down to one concrete idea by polling my staff again to find out what they found to be of more value (technology for communication or the use of social media in the class) instead of focusing on two new avenues of technology.  This made total sense, instead of bombarding my staff with two new ideas, I could choose the one idea the staff preferred and spend more of my attention and energy on more detail in this area.  The second bit of valuable information I was given was to poll only  those staff members who wanted to be part of the process instead of those who were unwilling to learn something they would see as unnecessary. This advice has shaped my project for the better and I now believe that I have a main focus instead of two separating branches.

 

After I conducted my second survey I found out that the majority of the staff who wanted to take part in the survey and be part of the learning wanted to focus on the use of social media in the classroom.  I believe that this will be a great topic to focus my energy on.  I have decided to conduct two PD opportunities for my staff focusing on how to use social media to create a more engaging learning environment and who can we seek out on social media in helping us teach our classes.

In holding this PD for my staff I am hoping that it will create a more engaging and exciting learning environment.  Like I stated previously, social media and technology is not going away.  As teachers it is our job to use tools that will allow our students to be more successful and engaged.  By teaching students using platforms they are familiar with we can allow for a more dynamic learning environment.

Unit 3 – School Level Technology

https://giphy.com/embed/mNU4UAvgU6teo

via GIPHY

Throughout my teaching career technology has always been a hot topic within the classroom. There has always been a divide between teachers that feel technology is welcome in the classroom and teachers who see it as the bane of their existence and has caused nothing but trouble.  When I first started teaching I felt like the latter. It was one more issue that caused a distraction and only piled onto the classroom management issue that all new teachers face. As I have gone through my Masters journey my opinion has changed, I have realized that technology can be a very powerful tool within the classroom if it is used correctly.

Last winter, while taking part in a course by Alec Couros, I decided that I needed to look into the way that I used technology within my classroom.  Not only the way that I used technology but the freedom that I gave my students when it came to using technology. Like I stated earlier, in the beginning of my teaching career I believed that technology (specifically cell phones) were a distraction and played a negative part in the classroom. Recently I have realized that technology is a distraction if students are not properly trained in way it should be used in the classroom, at home and in public.  Technology is not going away, if anything it will become a bigger part of our lives.  It has become very clear that students need to be taught not only how to use technology, but etiquette and responsibility when it comes to technology. I used to believe that the only way to have control over technology was to collect cell phones at the start of the day, I now believe that when students are taught or given proper guidelines on technology use technology is not a distraction but a very powerful tool.  For this reason last winter I developed a Digital policy for my classroom. Even over the matter of one year my beliefs on technology have changed and I do believe it needs to be altered, but it is a starting point. One change that I believe I will make was from Alec Couros, from his CBC article on device bans within schools, the idea of green, yellow and red light in regards to when technology can be used.

With regards to my digital policy and using the comparing it to a play I found it really intriguing….

https://giphy.com/embed/2vlkB8hoEyJcqjKrPL

via GIPHY

dramatis personae

When looking at digital policy that I have created for my classroom there are two parties that are greatly impacted by its implementation; the students and myself. First off, the students for the simple reason that there are guidelines and expectations put on their technology use.  They are expected to use technology appropriately if they want to continue to use it within the classroom. Second, myself for the simple reason that I need to beware the risks that there are of letting my students use cell phones and other forms of technology in the classroom.  If used inappropriately it could become a distraction or a tool for improper behaviour such as bullying. A secondary party that could come into play is the administrator because they will need to know about the policy and the consequences of improper use.

Props

The props within this scenario are any form of technology that the students are using on a day to day basis within the classroom. This could be chromebooks, cell phones, ipods, etc.

Conflict

This element of technology is the most difficult.  There are many conflicts when it comes to technology in the classroom and letting students access devices. I will only focus on a few that have had an impact on my classroom.

  1. BYOD – The biggest issue that stems from BYOD is that it is extremely difficult for teachers to monitor what students are using their devices for.  Students can seem to be working very hard, but be using their device for something entirely different. At least on school provided technology it is a lot easier to monitor what technology is being used for.
  2. Cyberbullying – This issue does not happen from within the classroom very often, but frequently it is happening outside the school and brought into the school. Issues that are happening on social media outside of the classroom make there way to school and cause a concern or distraction for the students. When this happens parents will call into school and want the school to get involved.  This often causes parents to believe that devices should not be permitted within the school.  I often explain that proper use needs to be taught and responsibility must be given to the students to accomplish this.
  3. Staff – Other staff not supporting the use of technology in the school. Not allowing students to use technology when given permission
  4. Sneeky Teens – One major issue that I have run into is that older students know how to beat the system.  There is always an app or website that teachers do not know about and students know how to use it.  These students have been on technology their whole lives, while we are often still learning how to use it.

Although my digital policy is far from perfect I believe it is a start.  I have come along way from where I was when I first started teaching and I believe that I will continue to grow as an educator when it comes to technology.