Friday, October 16, 2009

Week of 9/27 Response

For this week's information we were to read about the barriers that may occur when technology implementation is in the schools and also how to evaluate that technology. Another topic was the information on podcasts.
I will first discuss the information in Johnston/Cooley of how to overcome the barriers of technology implementation. I think this really hit home for me because in my district we kind of fly by the seat of our pants when it comes to technology implementation. We are quick to get something new, get very little training and the upkeep (later found) is expensive, therefore we don't subscribe to upgrades or have a real good track record of keeping things maintained and working. We only have two people for 3 buildings that deal with the technology. Anytime there is a question or problem they are not handled quickly or efficiently and we are left to try to figure things out on our own or we are left very frustrated since we cannot complete lessons as we would have liked to do. Another thing is that the equipment isn't properly maintained and the upgrades aren't purchased therefore we are left with mediocre programs that run slow and as the teachers there is nothing we can do about it.
We are not given enough time to properly train on certain programs that are required by the district so again we are left to do it ourselves and train each other with bits and pieces of information. Just this year we got an upgrade to the way we place grades in the program, called Gradequick. We were given no advanced notice of the changes and were not given any types of 'tutorials' or cheat sheets to get us through the process. The first progress report period and first grading period were nightmares when it came to putting the grades into the computer. Again, there was no 'personal' technical help, so we again were left to play detective in order to figure out how to work the system.
Our administration is tied as far as what they can do - our principals can only do what the superintendent and school board will allow and many times the requests for technology are rejected because the funding is not there or the funding is going to some other item(s).
In order for the technology to be useful to anyone - be it administrator, teacher or student - the equipment must run properly and efficiently. If no one is taking care of the equipment eventually the equipment will begin to fail. This causes unhappiness on all levels - the parents are frustrated, the teachers are frustrated and the administration is frustrated, but it seems no one has an answer.
In order for the technology to be useful all people need to be a part of the planning and implementation of the programs that are to be used. If there is agreement and cooperation then everyone benefits with useful technology that can be used outside the classroom and also as each student progresses through the grades.
In chapter 5 of Johnston/Cooley they discuss how and why technology needs to be evaluated. As I stated above, if everyone can work together and come up with some common needs for the technology then all the students/teachers in the district benefit.
On page 93 of Johnston/Cooley there are tips for evaluating technology integration. I think this is a great way for the information to be evaluated. As a teacher I should be able to come up with clear expectations for each of the students, and they should be able to clearly complete the activities with the technology.
There should be room for feedback from all involved - parents, administration, teachers, students. No one should be left out of the process since all are ultimately affected by the decisions of the type of technology that is purchased.
There should be room for changes within the curriculum where technology is concerned. Many times sites or program simply are gone or do not run properly so there should be allowances for those problems
The future should also be considered. Each year the students we get in the classroom are more tech-savvy than the previous year and the technology that the district has should reflect that knowledge.
Changing thoughts here, chapter 3, Podcasts, from Hendron, I thought was very lengthy. It seemed to me that the information could have been presented in a better way that wasn't so drawn out. I am a subscriber to the iTunes and have found some of the podcasts on there, but I just don't use them much in my personal or professional life.
Podcasting sounds like a great way to get the information out there to the students - but I am skeptical that the students I deal with would actually listen to it. I'm sure I have the 'better than average' students that would do listen, but yet the ones that would really benefit from the podcasts, I'm sure wouldn't give it a thought. Most of my students are of the mindset that once they leave school they are finished with it until they walk in the building the next day.

Continuing on with the podcasts, the article 'Podcasting as an educational building block in academic libraries' I got some information that helped me better define and understand podcasting. I can see it more from the higher education level and the academic library level. The level of learning is different and of a much higher quality. The students that would be listening to the podcasts have vested interest in it. They are paying for the classes and if they don't follow along their grades will suffer, which will in turn affect how they will (or if they will) graduate with a degree.

All these technology advances sound so neat, but I can honestly say that I couldn't imagine me doing too many of these things in my curriculum. We teach to the test - we drive home that idea that we all need to be working towards the PSSA tests and our district lives/dies by the scores each spring and fall. In an ideal world we would be able to use the technology but I don't see the public school sector getting in line to help the students advance in that particular way.

Hendron, J. (2009). RSS for Educators: Blogs, newsfeeds podcasts and wikis in the
Classroom. Eugene, OR: ISTE.

Johnston, M., & Cooley, N. (2001). What We Know About: Supporting New Models of
Teaching and Learning Through Technology. Educational Research Service.

Ralph, J. & Olsen, S. (2007). Podcasting as an Educational Building Block in Academic Libraries.
Australian Academic & Research Libraries, 38(4), p. 270-279.

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