Reflections on Instructional Technology and Media

web 2.0 competition February 13, 2007

I saw this posting on Rae Niles’ site and it puts the use of technology in schools into such great perspective. Ties in nicely with the video from my previous post as well. 

What lines can you add to this list? Here are my thoughts:

I can graph data, apply it and change it as soon as the data changes – you can spend your time doing the arithmatic.


What is Web 2.0? February 8, 2007

Filed under: technology,tracyweeks,Web 2.0 — tweeks @ 8:22 pm

Take a look at this video for a neat little montage about the evolution from web 1.0 to web 2.0. I am already hearing A-HA’s from a few people after viewing it.



Blame it on the software February 7, 2007


I find that as we adopt an increasing number of technology based solutions to address problems to support school or district based educational initiatives, when teachers are unhappy with the initiative itself, they often blame the technology solution as a proxy. For instance, in our district this year, we have begun Professional Learning Communities (PLC) in all of our schools. One of the concepts central to PLC is that teachers will create common assessments that are aligned to standards. In other words, all of the Alg 1 teachers in a school will get together to create a common assesssment and each item on the test will be matched to a standard in the NC Standard Course of Study.

Now stop and think about this for a moment, how may teachers so you know that match each item on a test with a standard? That is a very time consuming process and one that most teachers are not accostomed to doing. Why do this? The thought is that after students take the test, data can be collected about what students know against the standards thus informing teachers about how to focus their instruction.

Now, let’s add in a does of technology here. Remember that we want to collect and analyze data from these assessments? Doing it by hand would be painful, so our district decided to invest in a product, we went with Scantron’s Achievement Series, that will allow teachers to create an assessment, print out an answer sheet, administer the test, scan the answer sheets in, and then instantly have all of the results and a myriad of reports about the results. The beauty part of this is that the product will allow (not require) each item on the test to be aligned to a standard. What we have here is a product that is supporting a new initiative.

What do I hear from teachers? It takes too long to create a test in Achievement Series because  they have to align each item to a standard. Therefore the product is worthless and they don’t want to use it anymore. In reality, it is not the product that is the bottleneck here – it is the process of aligning the standard that takes so long. However, rather than completing that task before sitting down at the computer, most teachers are creating the test and aligning at the same time – no wonder it seems like it takes forever!

My task is now to go back and help teachers and administrators understand that it is not the technology – but the process and help them separate the two. This is a pretty difficult task! Sadly, it is not likely to be the last time I have to do this.


Assessment in School 2.0

In an effort to clarify or even find a definition for School 2.0, David Warlick notes:

Standards-based education requires predictability.  It’s why we try to rely so heavily on research, because we strive for predictability.  Conversation, even when directed well, is unpredictable, and what to many teachers will feel like chaos.  But doesn’t this describe the future we are preparing our children for.  We are no longer preparing them for a future of security, predictability, a job for 35 years.  Instead, we’re preparing them for a future of opportunity, constantly refreshed tools, knowledge, and skills to accomplish things that have never been possible before. 

I agree. However, what I see happening in education right now is a clash between NCLB, which is very standards driven/assessment heavy,  and this notion of School 2.o. As long as teachers are held accountable and driven by high stakes testing, I fear that they will not let go of the predictability of monologue and embrace the chaos of conversation.

So the new puzzle to try to solve is: how do we ensure that every child is learning, which is the underlying premise of NCLB, and still prepare them for the 21st century workplace which is a world of conversation and collaboration? Are these two goals mutually exclusive?