Tech Policy

What specific policies will help your district prepare students for current and emerging technology use? How can you help lead your district in creating these policies?

My school is very progressive in this area. We are already implementing some of the new emerging trends and have systems in place to research, evaluate, and experiment with other new ideas. I’ve pulled pieces of the tech policy, tech standards, and strategic plan that fit with emerging technology. To put our whole policy, strategic plan, and standards on here would take up too  much space.

Tech Policy

—-Technology and Information Literacy Vision Statement- IT and Library Services will collaborate with and empower students and staff to transform curiosity, creativity and compassion into ideas or artifacts with personal, social, or global significance.

IT Curriculum and Professional DevelopmentRapid changes in technology are continuously challenging teachers and tech integrators to meet high expectations in 21st century teaching standards. Three technology integrators, one at each section/developmental level,  are available for co-planning, coaching, and co-teaching to integrate technology into classroom learning.

Strategic Plan:

Learning- Strategic Objective: We will align expected outcomes, assessment, teaching, learning and reflection on practice in order to support our mission and student learning objectives.

Technology- End Result #1: —- empowers teachers and students with innovative practices, in a dynamic, technology-rich environment, in order to inspire action in the classroom and beyond. 

Inclusive School Culture-

  • End Result #2: —- uses differentiated instructional strategies and structures to help all learners reach his/her potential. 
  • End Result #3: — embraces and fosters an inclusive culture where differentiated instruction allows each student to achieve his/her potential. 

Inquiry-based Learning-

  • End Result #8: —- has a common understanding of inquiry and has provided the necessary opportunities to develop teacher expertise in inquiry-based instruction. 
  • End Result #9: —- has inquiry-based strategies that are integrated into instructional practice in order to foster a sense of curiosity and inspire action in the classroom and beyond. 
  • New End Result #10. Added to plan in March, 2015: —- has adopted models that utilize flexible learning spaces, collaborative learning, and alternative schedules and all potential human and technical resources to achieve essential skills through student passions. 

Tech Standards

Exhibits a positive, constructive approach toward using technology that supports collaboration, learning, and productivity: 

  • Contributes ideas through digital collaborative tools that help others learn
  • Respectfully expands on the ideas of others in digital collaborative tools
  • Enhances the productivity of a group through the use of digital collaborative tools.

Uses information technology in a manner that enhances lifelong learning:

  • Teaches self new technology tools
  • Responsibly uses hardware and software to ensure access to information
  • Demonstrates leadership to help avert or resolve cyberbullying issues

We also have a complete BYOD handbook to help students and parents to know what they should bring to school. Students go through a tech bootcamp when they first come to our school, in order to help them understand the programs and processes that we have.

Crafting and Tech

How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?

I guess I’m wondering why it wouldn’t be. Not all young people would need to craft with electronics in order for it to still be a viable addition. Our middle school art program has incorporated some of this technology into their classroom. They create touch interactive pieces of art by using Makey Makey circuits that the students connect to their art. Then they use Scratch to program sounds to the parts of the picture connected to the circuit. They have done this with wire sculptures, drawings and other mediums. This was fun for the students, but also had another academic element besides art and technology because the students’ prompt was to create a piece about a global social issue. For a workshop run by one of the these teachers, he had us make a story out of the  pictures we had drawn using graphite. After connecting our circuits, we used Scratch to add sounds and then told a story to the rest of the group. It was really clever. I was reminded of this type of crafting using electronics after watching the following TED talk by Leah Beuchley. She goes beyond just drawing on paper and shows further possibilities. In this video she uses light instead of sound. I’m wondering how amazing it would be to incorporate both.

My family is really into Making, but not always with electronics. It would be really intersting to look through Leah Buechley’s book “Sew Electric” (Mellis, 2014) and buy some of the kits from Chibitronics. We don’t usually use kits, because we try to use what we’ve already collected. We also like to use DIY sites such as Instructables, Craftsy,  or Craftster. One of the classes being offered at the moment, through Instructables, is about using Raspberry Pi. Raspberry Pi is a microcomputing platform, such as Arduino, that you can use for coding in crafts. My sons and husband seem to use electronics more than I do, but I can definitely see the advantages. I think that using electronics can be viable in some situations and not in others.

Buechley, L. (2012, November 15). Leah Buechley: How to “sketch” with electronics. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://youtu.be/vTBp0Z5GPeI

Makey Makey | Buy Direct (Official Site). (n.d.). Retrieved July 16, 2017, from http://www.makeymakey.com/

Mellis, D. (2014, February 4). Arduino Blog » Sew electric with Leah Buechley – Interview. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/02/04/sew-electric-with-leah-buechley-interview/

BYOD

Does every school need a “BYOD” policy?

There is a bit of controversy surrounding this issue; however, I believe that ultimately all schools do need a “BYOD” or a “one-to-one” program. In our ever increasing technological age, we would disservice our students if we didn’t allow some sort of technology education. This sort of education is much more difficult to implement when using shared resources, instead of allowing students their own access. I suggest that the issue is not whether or not students need the technology, but more about how it is used.

Using technology in the classroom helps to engage students and prepares them for our digital age. Allowing them to bring their own devices to school can promote greater participation and engagement in class, decrease time spent teaching about a new device, decrease money spent by the school to meet technology needs (What, 2016), allow students to focus on the material they are learning instead of learning about a new device, increase time spent on material outside of class, allows for immediate and limitless access to resources and materials, improve connection with students and parents via online apps, increases personalized learning opportunities, and allows for access to ebooks (Wainwright). It doesn’t make sense to ban devices or punish students for using the device that they feel comfortable using. We should instead use these devices to our own educational advantage.

There are some ways that we can make the “BYOD” programs more successful. Schools should provide training to teachers and other educational staff, in order to help them learn how to use new technologies. Staff should have time to try out new programs and experiment using them in classroom. Using new technology in the classroom should be promoted by allowing teachers the freedom to experiment (Madda, 2016). Schools should acknowledge the challenges present in many “BYOD” systems and plan accordingly. These challenges include, security issues pertaining to web content and child online safety, appropriate band width, students’ access to noneducational sites such as games and social media, protecting against viruses and malware (Martini, 2017), and student misconduct on their own and their peer’s device.

I do realize that there are arguments against “BYOD” programs. I have been very interested in reading articles about the increasing digital divide. A recent study on Philadelphia libraries by Neuman and Celanano found that, “The very tool designed to level the playing field is, in fact, un-leveling it” (Paul, 2014).Student from more affluent families use technology differently than those from lower income families. “They select different programs and features, engage in different types of mental activity, and come away with different kinds of knowledge and experience” (Paul). Researchers also reference the”Matthew Effect”, which is the idea that early advantages multiple over time, increasing the gap exponentially over time. Other studies have shown technology to have a negative effect on affluent and poorer student’s test scores alike; however, the performance of the lower income students suffers more than their richer counterparts. “Reliable evidence points to the conclusion that broadening student access to home computers or home Internet service would widen, not narrow, achievement gaps” (Paul).  This being said, I don’t believe that tests are the ultimate guide in establishing a student’s intelligence or abilities. Nor their ability to live in a modern digital world. We not only need to change our traditional system of education, we need to change the way we “test” or decide on achievement. We also need to stop comparing our system to other country’s. We are different and value different things. Our successes have not come from standardized tests.

 

 

Madda, M. J. (2016, July 10). Technology (and How It’s Used in Schools) Is Widening the Opportunity Gap – EdSurge News. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from https://www.edsurge.com/news/2016-02-10-technology-and-its-implementation-in-schools-is-widening-the-opportunity-gap

Martini, P. (2017, June 25). 4 Challenges That Can Cripple Your School’s BYOD Program. teachthought. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from http://www.teachthought.com/the-future-of-learning/technology/4-challenges-can-cripple-schools-byod-program/

Paul, A. M. (2014, June 25). Educational Technology Is Making Achievement Gaps Even Bigger. Slate. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/06/neuman_celano_library_study_educational_technology_worsens_achievement_gaps.html

Wainwright, A. (n.d.). 20 Pros and Cons of implementing BYOD in schools. Securedge networks. Retrieved July 08, 2017, from http://www.securedgenetworks.com/blog/20-Pros-and-Cons-of-implementing-BYOD-in-schools

What is BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and Why Should Teachers Care? (2016, January 7). Retrieved July 08, 2017, from http://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/tech-ed/what-is-byod-bring-your-own-device-and-why-should-teachers-care/

Gamification

What game have you seen that could help students learn, and how might it be used? 

I’ve been quite hesitant to learn about gamification in the classroom. However, after reading a few blogs and articles, it seems that a number of teachers have found it to be helpful to getting students engaged in their learning. In order to even begin thinking of a game that I might find useful, I had to begin to understand what gaming in the classroom truly is. After reading the Edutopia article Gamification in Education, I learned that “serious games” have been created on a variety of topics including difficult issues such as the Arab-Israeli conflict (Davis, 2014). 

I still didn’t fully understand because I wasn’t really sure what a “serious game” was, so I went back to the internet. Two articles that really helped my understanding were: Games in Education: Serious Games from futurelab.org and the EDUCAUSEreview article: Taking Serious Games Seriously in Education.  EDUCAUSEreview states that, “Games can serve as a means of not just developing domain-specific knowledge and skills but also identity and values key to professional functioning. The data from games enable understanding how students approach and solve problems, as well as estimating their progress on a learning trajectory” (Dicerbo, 2015). Futurelab takes the time to define serious games, list different types of activities that could be considered serious games (“Educational Games, Simulations, Social Impact Games, Virtual Reality, Persuasive Games, Games for Change, Games for Good, Alternative Purpose Games, Edutainment, Digital Game Based Learning, Immersive Learning, and Synthetic Learning Environments”), and lists required aspects for appropriate serious games (Ulicsak, 2010).  The use of serious games in the classroom may seem like a no-brainer, but before my reading, I really had no idea there were so many options and so much to think about before picking an activity for my classroom.

Now that I better understand the use of serious games, I needed to be educated on what games I might like to use in my Language Arts or Social Studies classroom. To help with this, I read Using Games for Serious Learning in High School from Edutopia,  50 Great Sites for Serious, Educational Games from the Center for Online Education, 20 Serious Games for School, and  Simply Engaging and Utterly Consuming: #Givercraft 2014 from the Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. For my high school English classes, I found the Edutopia article to be the most helpful because it listed games, as well as giving ideas for assessment. The most intriguing games they listed were: 1. That Dragon, Cancer, 2. Life is Strange, 3. 1979 Revolutions: Black Friday, and 4. Firewatch. Each of these games includes a story that students interact with (Farber, 2016).  Another interesting idea is #Givercraft which brings Language Arts together with technology using Minecraft and the book The Giver by Lois Lowry. This gave me the idea of using the texts in my ninth grade LA class and somehow using Minecraft to work with setting (Dkeedy, 2015). Another English game for high school students is Youth Voices. In this game, students learn about writing using social media.

For History and Geography I could use: 1. Quest Atlantis, which allows students to complete quests while traveling through virtual villages, 2. Betwixt Folly and Fates, a day in the life of a 1774 Williamsburg citizen, 3. Global Conflict: Latin America, 4.  Climate Change Interactive, which has students interacting with the social, political, cultural, and scientific aspects of climate change, 5. Darfur is Dying, where students work to continue their refugee camp even with the threat of local militias, 6. Food Force from the World Food program that teaches people about feeding the hungry, 7. 3D World Farmer, allows students to run a farm in Africa while also dealing with poverty and conflict, 8. A Tale in the Desert, a game about economy and community development set in Egypt, 9. Aars Regendi which teaches about politics and economy, 10. Peacemaker, where your decisions create world peace or cause conflict, and 11. World Without Oil. Another source for current world issues games is Games for Change. They have games for all ages and include games on a variety of topics including gender, climate change, family, health, human rights, environment, economics, and education.

Davis, V. (2014, March 20). Gamification in education, Edutopia. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/blog/gamification-in-education-vicki-davis

Dicerbo, K. (2015, July 19). Taking serious games seriously in education, EDUCAUSEreview. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://er.educause.edu/articles/2015/7/taking-serious-games-seriously-in-education

Dkeedy. (2015, January 25). Simply engaging and utterly consuming: #Givercraft 2014, Michigan Virtual Learning Research Institute. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://mvlri.org/blog/simply-engaging-and-utterly-consuming-givercraft-2014/

Farber, M. (2016, November 17). Using Games for Serious Learning in High School, Edutopia. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from https://www.edutopia.org/article/games-for-serious-learning-matt-farber

Jensen, R. (2016, June 03). 50 great sites for serious, educational games, Center for Online Education. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.onlinecolleges.net/50-great-sites-for-serious-educational-games/

S. (2017, March 27). 20 serious games for school, Avatar Generation. Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://www.avatargeneration.com/2013/10/20serious-games-for-school/

Ulicsak , M. (2010, June). Games in education: serious games, futurelab.org Retrieved June 27, 2017, from http://media.futurelab.org.uk/resources/documents/lit_reviews/Serious-Games_Review.pdf