Friday, October 21, 2011

New Tech Standards & Requirements

After reading through the Oregon Educational Technology Standards (OETS) , it appears the objective, or big picture, is to produce students who are not only comfortable using the technology (which most of them are anyway), but more importantly able to effectively use the tools they have at their disposal, to research, communicate, collaborate, create in a responsible manner. I was reminded of Bloom's Taxonomy in that the tech standards are asking students to engage in higher level thinking skills such as analyzing, evaluating and creating. I believe the Oregon Diploma sums it up well when it states the objective to "use technology to learn, live, and work." 

The OETS that I identified as being the most significant to me are:

  1. Creativity and Innovation
  2. Communication and Collaboration
  3. Digital Citizenship
Creativity and Innovation
I really like the idea of using some of the tools we learned about in this classroom to create projects featuring blogs, podcasts, and reports. One of the most creative things I've seen is the website created by Mrs. Childers at Echo Shaw Elementary in Forest Grove. I attended her presentation at the Oregon Technology in Education Network (OTEN) conference and was thoroughly impressed. Her website gives some excellent examples of meaningful and fun activities using technology. Not only does she teach technology standards, but she also teaches literacy, math, writing, and science with these creative projects. Imagine how cool it must be for those kids to go home and show their families what they made at school? Those students are fortunate to have a teacher who is willing and able to use technology at school. My personal goal is to be one of those teachers who is willing and able. 

Communication and Collaboration
There are many interesting ways we can use the technology available to communicate and collaborate with others in the classroom or anywhere on Earth. One way students can collaborate on a project is to use Google Docs. The cloud based application lets students work on a project simultaneously no matter their physical location. Teachers and students can have blogs to post assignments on and post comments back and forth to each other. I also would like to use technology to facilitate collaboration between local students and international students. Instead of working with traditional pen pals, which can be a slow and sometimes expensive undertaking, you can simply email back and forth, use blogs, Skype, Google Docs, and podcasts to communicate and share information. I plan on doing some cultural exchanges with my future students using these methods. I see a lot of exciting opportunities for students to learn about other cultures directly from the source - the people - rather than just text books. 

Digital Citizenship
Just as we try and model responsible behavior to students in the "real world", we also need to do this in the Digital world, which is now basically one in the same as the "real world". Bullying, for example, can easily spill over to Cyberspace and needs to be one of the problems educators address. Also, internet security needs to be taught. Just as you would protect your locker combination or ATM PIN, students need to understand the importance of protecting their information online. Identity theft is a huge problem and can be avoided in many cases if students are aware of scams and techniques that thieves use to try and steal information. Teachers will need to model this for students and make them aware of the dangers of dealing with strangers on the Internet, giving out personal information, and treating others with respect online. Here is the Digital Citizenship continuum which addresses many of these problems. 

Based on my own experiences in this class, as well as what I've heard and seen from my classmates, I am already very comfortable with the technology - I use it every day - but I was not familiar with a lot of the basic tools that are available that allow us to engage in some of those higher level skills using technology. Sometimes we are our own worst enemies in that we are simply unaware of the technology that is available to us. Tools such as Google Docs allow for easy collaboration on projects yet I had never even used the program before in any meaningful way. I suspect I was not alone in being the first. I also suspect that many students in our schools will be the same. The tools are out there waiting to be utilized, we just need that first introduction to get with the program. I think there will still be some resistance in schools as we try to gain support from administration and colleagues to effectively use technology is the classroom as well. As new teachers one of our jobs will be to introduce and demonstrate technology to other teachers who may not be familiar or interested in technology. Hopefully they will also "get with the program" after seeing what can be done with these tools. 
Another major obstacle may be funding and outdated computers in the schools. There are many activities that can be done using one classroom computer and a cell phone as we have seen in our EdTech course. Also, grants are available from a variety of sources. At the OTEN conference, Mrs. Childers said that she wrote two, $2000 grants to buy iPods, computers, headphones, and everything else needed to complete her projects. She also recommended that we approach stores and corporations such as Fred Meyer or Wal-Mart for funding. She said it is possible to get smaller grants in the range of $200 from these sources. It all adds up. 


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing Mrs Childers web site again. I think you will enjoy building a structure that pulls all these pieces together.