Thursday, November 15, 2012

District Tech Planning - Student Goal 1a

(A little musing as I jump into the beginning of a district tech plan rewrite...Feel free to add your comments below...)

This year is a technology plan rewrite year for us. Schools in California have to have a technology plan in order to be eligible for the Federal E-Rate program or eligible to write for any competitive grants the State may pull out of their Federally funded hat, such as EETT Enhancing Education Through Technology grants. The likelihood of grants in this economic environment is slim, but be that as it may, most would agree that a technology plan is good etiquette for school districts.

Technology has become an integral part of our normal day outside of school. Technology should be just as integral in our students' learning day. This idea is the foundation for our current rewrite and will be the catalyst for some major goals in our new plan.

All good plans dealing with education must start with the needs of the student. Those needs are specific and targeted to student learning. Whether you are planning the construction of a new school, or planning the use of technology, your first step is to examine the needs of your learners and design for their future. For instance, among the skills that we would like students to leave our school with is the ability to solve real problems.

Real problems in this instance are not the problems, 1-12 on page 201 of the textbook. Real problems are complex, multifaceted challenges, based in real life that are not solvable in a 50 minute class period. There are no shortages of examples, or models of real problems that we can use to introduce students to concepts and skills real world problems. Crack open almost any piece of classical literature and you will read about real problems and how the characters of those stories solved their real problems. The skills that we discover in
those stories are very often the same skills that we would like our students to come away with from our schools. However the world has changed since those stories were created, and our problems and solutions have become much more sophisticated. The tools required to solve current problems have kept pace with the challenges and have become just as sophisticated. The problems of today can not be solved by the tools of yesterday. 

Draft #1 - Student Goal (a) Ability to Solve Real Problems
  • Skills:
    • Seek collaboration
      • Locate and identify experts
      • Build Teams
    • Communicate in multiple modes
      • Defining the problem and report the solutions
    • Create and Ask questions
      • Clarify
    • Listen to Understand
      • Empathize
      • Respect Different views
      • Reflect on what you hear
        • Don’t jump to conclusions

The skills in the goal above say nothing about technology. However, in order for students to acquire these skills to mastery, they need to use technology. Reading between the lines above, how many different ways do you see technology utilized in the skills? ( I realize that this may be difficult if you are unfamiliar, but that's where the professional development component of the technology plan kicks in.) Also, the skills listed above could become the start of a rubric that evaluates students, not on correct multiple choice answers, but on student product (digital portfolios.)

What would you add?

CC Image courtesy of exfordy


Joe Wood said...

I am in the midst of writing our tech plan as well. I like your idea of more student-focused goals. However, I am curious where you are putting these and how you are planning on measuring them? Are they part of 3d or are they simply over all school goals and part of 3c. I'm finding that the format of a CA tech plan can quickly suck the soul out of great ideas.


John Patten said...

Hi Joe...

Currently, in the draft of the plan, I want students to leave with six goals. These goals are broad and reflect popular opinion of what skills students need. Those goals are: 1. Strong foundation in the basics (Common Core) 2. A love for life long learning. 3. Ability to solve real problems. 4. Become independent thinkers. 4. Make healthy choices. 5. Adopt the fact that they matter and are positive contributors to our community. Now, those are pretty wordy, and they need to be reworked, and some may not make it into the plan. There's nothing in them about technology, but in my mind, maybe mine alone... they can't be done without technology. For example in the "solve real problems" goal, seek collaboration, that's all about social networking tools, communicate in multiple modes, that about being able to create and communicate in video, audio, text, multimedia, writing and publishing for an authentic audience, blogging. Part of our assessment strategy will be the creating on portfolios, digital portfolios for each student that both the student and the teacher helps to create with immediate access by parents too (Evernote or similar tool).

This tech plan is laying out the justification for why I feel we need to begin implementing a 1:1 in all our schools, K-8 (with flexibility). I don't think we would be able effectively meet any of our tech plan goals above without implementing 1:1. This three year plan is the plan to plan, and I'm thinking we have one elementary and one middle school in this 1:1 learning phase. The plan for 2016-2019 is when we go district wide based on what we've learned during the next three years (with the pilot schools).

Joe Wood said...

Interesting. We have something similar to your six goals called the NCS ESLRs (Essential Schoolwide Learning Results). Ironically they have been around since 1993, but technology has become a critical component of each of the ESLRs. We are on a similar 1:1 journey and I think during our three-year plan one of our programs may become a formal 1:1 program, while the others will likely make use of BYOD with a heavy focus online tools.

When you have a draft I'd love to see your plan. I will share ours as well. I have been reviewing plans from other districts and have yet to find one that is really innovative, but it sounds like the SUSD one is right on track.