While attending the icon2013 conference in Burlington recently, I had the opportunity to meet up with several of my colleagues. We all worked together as Technology teachers in the same district and left the same summer to become high school Technology Integration Specialists at 3 different high schools. Although our job descriptions may be similar, our experiences, successes and frustrations were quite varied. Our new districts all had some areas of strength and shortcomings. We talked about the ingredients that were necessary for technology to truly become integrated in a school and came up with the following:
- A strong wireless network – there needs to be a permanent line item in the school budget to support a robust wireless network that provides reliable coverage throughout the entire school campus.
- An administrative champion – above and beyond the presence of a district technology/tech integration team, there should be a school administrator to champion education technology. They should regularly blog and tweet about the successful technology initiatives in the school and about education technology to strengthen communication to parents/community and to model appropriate use of social media. They should publish a newsletter highlighting technology use in the classroom, technology related calendar events, technology tips and tricks, and students perspectives on education technology.
- 1-1 student/teacher computer ratio – There are few jobs that require their workers to schedule time on a computer or to share a computer with 2 or 3 coworkers. That should not be the way students or teachers access technology either. Until every student and teacher has access to devices at a 1-1 ratio true integration will not be possible. Teachers should have immediate access to their own computer anywhere in the school building, Sudden teachable moments and unscheduled inquiries can become amazing learning experiences when a student can immediately look up the answer to a great question on their device.
- Technology Integration support – Teachers require support to understand what technology to use and how to use it meaningfully in this ever-changing, improving and evolving world of education technology. Providing ‘just-in-time’ support and training is crucial to that end. This training should also be made available to parents through regular evening technology workshops.
- Computer Education curriculum for students – There should be technology teachers K-12 that deliver ongoing technology education directly to students. At the lower grade levels the curriculum would include Internet Safety, understanding the importance of a good digital footprint and learning how to use the information available on the Internet wisely and legally. As students get older, courses should be available in robotics, engineering, computer programming, web design, tv/video, app development, computer aided photography/video, animation, etc.
- A student help desk — an intern program or class should be available for students to troubleshoot hardware and software issues; provide proactive support to teachers; researching new tools and the integration and use of tools; and sharing that knowledge via blogs, tutorials or presentations.
- Teacher Technology Leaders – Ideally schools would have at least one “Vanguard” teacher from each dept who periodically meet with the Tech Integration team to plan future PD and run peer lead PD sessions on early release days.
- Software to support the effort – Teachers, students and parents all benefit from the use of a common Learning Management system (such as It’s Learning, Moodle etc.) which provides 1 go-to place for student assignments, handouts, etc. All students (at least those 13 years and older) need an email address and access to a collaborative environment such as Google Apps for Education.
All pictures are from the public domain thanks to Pixabay