|Working on a Masters Degree in Educational
Technology was a logical step for me. I had been working with elementary
students and teachers using technology for six years. I began in 1990 in
a lab with Apple IIe computers. When I began my studies I was working in
a networked PC lab that was also linked to one computer per classroom.
There was so much I wanted to learn. It had been a long time since I had
taken actual University courses. It was definitely time to go back to school.
||While working in schools with technology I became
convinced of the need for a mediator between tech people and teachers.
I observed that tech people often speak a language that teachers do not
understand, and vice versa. Many of the technology gurus I met were totally
convinced of the importance of integrating technology into classrooms,
but were totally out of touch with actual school and classroom culture.
They had no idea of how threatening change is or how difficult keeping
up with technology is for teachers. They often lacked an understanding
of the daily limitations that teachers face starting with no phone line.
|Teachers are also caught up in the worlds
of their classrooms and totally unaware of how technology could enhance
what they are doing. Many were unwilling to take the time that to learn
to use technology. Sadly, there were others who had experienced what happens
all too often in schools. They were willing to make changes and took extra
time and effort to learn new things. However, by the time that they learned
to implement a new technology, it was replaced by a new and better technology
and what they learned was useless. Willing teachers have watched as Apple
IIes came and went, laser video disk players with bar scanners were encouraged,
labs with programmed instruction came and went, software changed so much
that it had to be relearned. Teachers are also very aware of budget shortfalls
and resent the incredible amount of money that it takes to successfully
implement technology use in a school.
||I started my degree envisioning a new role emerging
in schools. I felt that I could prepare myself for that role. The failure
of one time in-service training and efforts to push teachers to use technology
was so obvious. The new role in schools would be a technology coach. This
is someone who knows education and has experience in the classroom and
also knows technology. The role of this person in a school would be to
act as a bridge and a buffer to technology for the educators including
both teachers and administrators in the school. This person would have
the ability and time to keep up with changes in technology as they occur.
At the same time they would have the larger view of teaching and learning,
so that technology can be applied in meaningful ways in classrooms.
|When I started the program I was more
skeptical about the need for technology integration than I am now. The
amount of money it costs to get a school networked and to keep the machines
upgraded, not to speak of the personnel needed to make this effective seemed
too high. My first class opened my eyes to constructivism. I actually experienced
constructing my own learning. It was powerful. I explored many of my doubts
about the use of technology in schools by designing an artifact (the actual
artifact is just pieces, but the design is done!) that could be part of
a Virtual Library of Educational Psychology. I read books and articles
about both sides of this issue and created a boxing match scenario where
the two sides are debated. This helped me to see clearer what the two sides
were and to work out some of my thoughts on the subject.
||As time went by I became more and more convinced
of the necessity of technology integration in schools. The growth of the
Internet and the resources available there were influential in my thinking.
In 1996 I began working with a group of students on a school
web page and gradually understood how web page creation is a terrific
authentic task for students to share what they are learning. Several classes
in the school I was working in also participated in Online
Projects that opened their eyes to different parts of our country and
the world. These projects were so exciting and motivating for the students
and teachers that I became sold on their value.
|The one thing that has not been proven
to my satisfaction is that test scores of students actually improve as
a result of the use of technology. Many researchers argue that the tests
are not measuring the types of learning that occurs with technology use.
This issue is still unresolved, but I have come to the conclusion that
it doesn't really matter. As I look into society at large and observe the
immense changes that technology has made in every corner of our world,
I can't help but think that even if test scores stay the same we are doing
a disservice to students today if we do not change the way that they are
educated. Schools and University classrooms are some of the last places
to feel the effect of technology, yet everything around them has changed.
In fact, school offices have changed more than classrooms. What school
office does not have several telephones, a fax machine, several computers
and a printer? Often this equipment is connected to a network so that grades
and financial data can be shared throughout a district. At the same time
the classroom is almost the same as the classroom I spent time in 50 years
ago. I am convinced that needs to change and I am excited about making
a positive contribution to this change.
| Resume | Tools
| Reflections | Ed
Tech Resources | Family | Work
May 30, 2004