Problems with developing Ed-Tech in schools

7 06 2012

Ed-tech is a joyful undertaking done by the luckiest and most talented teachers, working at the best schools in the world, who have all the time and resources they wish to have in order to complete their mission.

That’s what it feels like sometimes, browsing the Twittersphere.

Allow me to bring some perspective to the overall picture. Lots of us little schools out there may strive to reach lofty ideals, but to get there can be a frustrating battle.

Snapshot:

Where we are going
  • From next year all teachers are expected to have a ‘presence’ in Moodle.
  • I have been working on documentation of all our tools, including a detailed Moodle course on ‘How to Use Moodle’. All staff have access to this before the school year starts and should be familiar.
  • PD in the week before school, to ensure teachers understand their course creation privileges. Continued PD opportunities particularly in Q1 to keep Moodle course development moving.
  • A new school information system, which will hopefully be integrated with our Moodle/GApps SSO.
  • Have hired an ICT specialist for primary school whose focus/experience is on tech-integration (on the same page is vital).
Where I’m at
I am called the ‘ICT Coordinator & Teacher’. And that’s exactly what I do. I do what is essentially a full time job in itself (attempting the management and development of ICT) and have a full teaching load (9 classes, 98 students).

ISTE Technology Coordinators Handbook

 

I was recently shown this diagram. And it scared me a little bit, and really got me thinking about the model we have to keep driving towards. How do you develop effective ICT staffing and job responsibilities. Well, I can tell you, having one person in charge of all PD, development, integration AND teaching doesn’t work well, or not well enough. Unfortunately, not a lot will change next year, as I will still be teaching a full timetable. I hope that after having improved the access to the materials on using our VLE I will be able to free up more time to start some effective tech integration.
In many  schools, I’m sure there are a number of barriers to effective Ed-Tech.
1) Top down
Involvement of technology in the curriculum and school-wide philosophy needs to come from the top down. We are disenfranchised if the school focus is elsewhere, and also if administrators ‘do not get it’. It is not entirely hopeless, but you will end up working with only the willing, rather than as part of a school-wide push to improve in this area. That leads to fractured and ineffective use of technology. Without a top down drive into technology, there is little hope of providing off timetabled time for that purposes, as other priorities are in place.
2) HR
Many of the best schools in regards to ED Tech actively hire teachers who already have an ed-tech background. For many schools, that is a luxury that is not afforded. And yes, those teachers who DO have proven ed-tech backgrounds deserve the best jobs, they are pushing the boundaries in their chosen subjects and are inherently creative and motivated.
3) Established 
Schools with advanced and effective Ed-Tech have often chosen technology to be at the forefront of everything they do. They have also already established successful how departments work together effectively, and have other major focuses successfully completed like curriculum development and accreditation.
4) Resources
Obviously
5) Misson/Vision
This kind of dovetails in with all of those above. The school needs to have 21st century learning in its mission, at its forefront, as an integral part of teaching and learning, and that expectation needs to hammered home to teachers.
6) Delivery
Co-planning for technology integration should not seem like ‘extra work’, rather an adaptation of what you are already doing, improving your classroom efficiency. Hence the delivery of PD and changes to practice needs kid gloves. Here again is a link to the importance of the support and vision of admin, where off-timetable meetings may help facilitate the process, rather than hanging back after school or during lunchtimes.

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