Monday, January 30, 2012

National Education Technology Plan

The National Education Technology Plan (2010) presents five goals that outline the essential components of learning powered by technology. These include Learning, Assessment, Teaching, Infrastructure, and Productivity.  This plan recognizes that technology should be at the core of learning and educators must use it to provide a powerful and effective learning experience for all students. It calls to engage and empower students by providing state-of-the-art technology that will allow limitless opportunities in a 21st century job market. The plan stresses that educators need to “rethink our basic assumptions” and redesign and transform our education system to include technology. One of the goals and recommendations that the NETP presented is that research and development on how embedded assessment technologies such as simulations, collaboration environments, virtual worlds, games, and cognitive tutors, can be used to engage and motivate learners while assessing complex skills. Often to the general public, playing games in school may seem counterproductive. Some fail to see that these types of assessments will engage learners’ interests while giving them timely feedback and motivating them to learn important concepts and skills.
The plan also identifies the role of the Department of Education as a facilitator between districts, states, and higher education institutions to design, develop, and rescale technology-based assessment resources to include electronic learning, student data for continuous improvement, and new business models.  I was most interested in the views on assessment and how the plan outlines improvements. I strongly believe that accurate assessment is the key to provide new and improved ways increasing the quality of technology based instruction. I agree that these skills cannot be reviewed with conventional testing methods. This leaves a great need for the design and development of assessment strategies on a whole new level.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Sabine Pass ISD's District Technology Plan

Sabine Pass ISD’s technology plan identifies the following main goals: Integrate technology into the curriculum to enhance the educational process for every student, provide access to information for students, parents and the community through technology, and provide ongoing staff development opportunities for the integration of technology into the curriculum. The district plans to meet these goals by providing further connectivity for students, use resources such as public television, the school website and other notification systems, and analyze the current status of technology use in the district.
Some of the needs that were addressed include: replacing aging technology hardware on a five year rotation, providing integration of technology into the classroom, providing more training for teachers and staff, and providing better monitoring capabilities to teachers to promote effective learning.  The budget also reflects a decrease in local funds for the next three years.
The technology coordinator works in conjunction with administration to provide ongoing opportunities for professional development including local in-service and one-on-one training in topics relating to SBEC technology standards. Administration will provide the necessary infrastructure to successfully facilitate technology into all areas of the district to optimize the learning environment.  
The Technology Plan Committee is responsible for the ongoing evaluation of the plan and report findings to the superintendent and board of trustees after each formal evaluation. The Texas STaR Chart results are used to help assess progress made toward meeting the goals of the LRPT. Other methods of evaluation include staff surveys, informal interviews, monitoring, yearly inventory, support and maintenance of hardware, and administrative classroom observations.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Technology Assessments

I believe that the Texas Education Agency’s Campus STaR charts are beneficial in the sense that they provide a general assessment of how each campus is integrating and implementing technology.

Assessment is an integral part of any process. Analyzing the results from the STaR chart can help each campus identify areas for improvement. Recognizing these areas is the first stride to developing a positive 21st century learning environment for students. Educators need to make certain that students are learning the skills required to succeed in a technological society. Technology should be used to improve education in all subject areas.  This requires teachers to really understand these skills and discover the best and most effective ways to present them to students.  Whether the data shows a weakness in educator preparation or how the material is actually presented in a classroom, staff and administration can provide the resources necessary for advancement and continue to make progress toward meeting the goals of the Long-Range Plan for Technology as required by NCLB.

 However as with anything, I believe that there is certainly room for improvement.  It seems that there is a flaw in the way that the STaR chart is designed.  I believe that the accuracy of the information presented may not reflect what is really occurring on campus.  Results from administration may be influenced by their own interpretation of what is deemed effective and operational. In some areas, the data for my campus was surprising and I believe that these inconsistencies played an integral part of the overall conclusion.  

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Web Conference #2

Tonight was the second EDLD 5306 web conference that I have attended so far. I have to say that this time was much easier on everyone! The first session didn’t go so well. Everything seemed to flow smoothly. There was minimal feedback from the microphones and very few lapses in the video feed. It was great to see all of the other students and interact with everyone. There was a lot of valuable information included in tonight’s conference. We discussed the requirements for our internship as well as what we have to look forward to in the upcoming courses. Since the conference I have been attempting to acquire a site mentor and getting a jump on reading the internship handbook. I still have many questions about what is expected at the end of each course and what exactly to complete with our mentor. I’m sure that all of my questions will soon be answered as we get further into instruction.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Web Conference #1

Tonight’s web conference was the first, so of course we had a few hiccups with getting started. There was a lot of feedback and echo. Once the microphones were muted, it seemed to help. The video would have delays. Regardless of the bumps, it was great to see everyone’s faces. It’s nice to be able to do that in an online class setting. That is always the one thing that I miss about being in an actual classroom. During the conference, we talked about submitting discussion posts and how to correctly site using APA style. We discussed the overall goals of the class and how to find various files on the class website. I am very excited to begin this course. I look forward to learning from my instructor and all of the other students. I will definitely attempt to transfer this web conference experience out of class and into the workplace.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

The Beginning of Spontaneous Preparation.

Ah, the first blog post. So many things to say and yet no definite starting point. Jump in feet first. I am a passionate educator. I knew it when I was six and all of my unwilling cousins doodled on the homemade worksheets I worked so diligently to produce while I tried to teach them the difference between its and it's. As trite and hackneyed as it may sound, I feel it is the purpose of my life to educate and inspire others with learning. Nothing brings me more joy than the feeling that I have helped someone in one way or another. With that said, there are times that I wish I knew something else. If I were born an artist, singer, or perhaps a money-hungry business mogul it might be easier to explain my career choice to others. Maybe my friends would understand that my day doesn't end at 4:00 pm. But we have summers off right? (Commence laughter and preferred eye-roll.) Yes, my bank account would be happier with more zeros, my weeknights may enjoy some company, and I wouldn't have to hear the summer bit for the hundredth time, but I wouldn't change one thing about my career choice. The way that I teach in a classroom reflects who I am as a person. As teachers we should plan, practice, organize and prepare. At the same time, we should embrace the unplanned, spur-of-the-moment, impulsive lessons and teachable moments. Be spontaneous. Life to me is the same way. I wish that I were more of a risk-taker. I would love to go somewhere without a plan, a map, or a to-do list. No, I take it back. I never want to do that. Without a list, what achievements do you cross off? I like to be prepared, but enjoy the idea of being spontaneous. I am perfectly content going through life with the contradictory idea of what I like to call spontaneous preparation.