Friday, January 25, 2008

Reflections on Instructional Technology

I am in the process of applying to international schools and getting ready for the Search-Associates Cambridge Job Fair in February. Working overseas has always been a dream for me! As I am filling out applications and preparing for phone interviews it has dawned on me that we are doing some amazing things in our district right now. So much so that I haven't been writing to the blog or doing many other things recently. So it's time to catch ya'll up and for me to reflect a bit (you were warned!)...

Ever since NECC this summer I've been revising my thoughts on Instructional Technology and our role as Instructional Technology Specialists, Technology Facilitators, Computer Coordinators, or whatever else you want to call us. My thoughts and thinking began to shift as I listened to speakers talk about our relevance in education. And then I thought about our teachers - their needs of us and of technology are shifting, whether or not they know it yet. And most importantly, our students needs have already changed and we are not addressing that change.

It is my opinion that we (in Instructional Technology) need to be the voices for that change in education. Not only do we need to do everything we always have (troubleshoot, make walkthroughs, and lend a helping hand when something goes amiss), we also must now explain and help our educators understand the world our students are living in, how they communicate, what the tools are that they use, and what skills they need to succeed.

How do we do this?

This is the question that we have been answering in our district this year and that I have been focusing on. Below are some ways I believe we are addressing this.

Presentations to teachers and administrators - about new ideas (like this one I created for our Elementary New Teacher Orientation - Teaching and Learning in the Conceptual Age)
and new tools (like the Nova5000 and NComputing Devices).

Technology Wednesdays and Thursdays - one hour after school trainings and worksessions that allow our teachers the most important resource of all when integrating technology - TIME to LEARN and PLAY. See our current TWT offerings!

Collaboration and Communication Open-Source Applications - we are implementing WordPress, Moodle, and WikiSpaces this year. Teachers are blogging and having conversations in an online learning environment with their students as I write this!

Mini-Grants - this year we are offering mini-grants that get technology hardware in the hands of teachers. We have already given out 3 digital projectors and are in the process of distributing 29 digital cameras.

Summer Technology Conference - we offered the STC07 last year on the last two workdays in June and had an overwhelming response. We are currently organizing the one for this year.

I am so impressed with everything we have and are continuing to accomplish in our district. I really feel that through these projects we have started educators in our district moving in a new direction. Not all of them for sure - but a large majority. We are sharing with them. Collaborating with them. Communicating with them. All in new ways. We are helping them to understand and address the needs of our students.

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