Questions to ask yourself:
The following questions were asked of us during the fall of 2014. Expand each question (+) for my responses based on my research and situation at RHHS.
These are questions all of us must continue to ask periodically as our environments change.
1. What tools, software, operating systems, and equipment are available in your school and classroom? (including but not limited to: videoconferencing, streaming, photos sharing sites, video sharing sites, document sharing sites, podcasts, blogs, wikis, social networking sites, etc.)
a. Each teacher is given a laptop for teaching and school business use. Most have now been systematically upgraded to MacBook Pro, running OS X. These can be taken home.
b. All devices have wireless Internet access at school. One secure signal is for teachers. One public signal and one “for iPads only” signal are available to students. Signals are typically reliable, with rare issues usually caused by our local provider.
c. Except for content filtering, teachers and students have access to virtually all appropriate websites that would be used in school. Recent blocks of You Tube, Facebook, and other social media have been lifted.
d. Teachers use Microsoft 365 email accounts. Attendance/grades are managed through Power School and Gradebook. Students and parents have access through their portals to view attendance, grades, schedules, assignments, and demographics and contact information.
e. Instructure’s Canvas program has been adopted for our district as of this past summer. This is an assignment management program, whereby students can get their assignments as well as submit them. Teachers can correct/comment and have students edit. Discussion boards can also be set up.
f. Classrooms are equipped with Promethean boards and LCD projectors. Like Smart boards, these are interactive boards that utilize a stylus.
g. Classrooms are equipped with audio enhancement whereby the instructor may wear a microphone to be better heard. All media can be directed toward these speakers too.
h. There are two computer labs teachers can sign up to use, totaling 60 desktop stations. The media center is upgrading to include an additional 30 desktop stations. These utilize Windows 7. Two carts of 30 iPads are available for teachers to check out. Some select classes have their own class set of iPads. The vast majority of classes do not.
i. Students, upon teacher discretion, are allowed to use their own devices in class. This is typically a smart phone, but other tablets and laptops are occasionally seen.
2. How does your school make use of school and/or teacher websites?
a. The district has a comprehensive website (http://www.rock-hill.k12.sc.us) that provides access to district news, calendars, faculty and staff information, and links to individual school websites. It also provides access to the district’s social media usage (Facebook, Twitter), as well as to various resources for parents and the community.
b. Each individual school has an OrangeEd template website that provides more specific information and calendars for parents and students, as well as links to teacher websites. Rock Hill High School can be seen here (http://rh.rock-hill.k12.sc.us). All teachers are required to maintain a teacher website through the OrangeEd program that includes a minimum of a syllabus / course expectations for each course taught and teacher contact information. Teachers are encouraged to use these websites to include additional information, but it is not enforced. Most teachers do not maintain these websites. The OrangeEd template is not user friendly and limited in capability. Many teachers elect to use outside web-hosting programs to create classroom webpages, including me.
3. How are you currently utilizing technology for learning?
I currently use the following technologies:
a. Canvas – Students access subject content and assignments, as well as submitting assignments for review, revision, and grading. Quizzes can also be taken on this program.
b. Promethean board is used daily to display content. Flipcharts are interactive on the board. Any image can be annotated over using the stylus.
c. Student projects/presentations have included Prezi, Facebook, web pages, video, and twitter.
d. Students/parents interact daily with me through my school email account.
e. Students use their own devices in class as needed. (see #8 below)
4. From the list of global e-learning sites included below, which are available and which sites are blocked by your firewall?
All of the sites listed are available and unblocked.
Peace Corps Speakers Match
Global Nomads Group www.gng.org
Primary Source www.primarysource.org
Outreach World http://www.outreachworld.org
The UN Works http://www.un.org/
Global Education Conference
Online Newspapers http://www.onlinenewspapers.com
5. What sites and tools are colleagues in your building using?
After polling the faculty informally, the following sites were found to be useful to some of the faculty, although few sites were used extensively by a majority of teachers:
a. With students/for students
You Tube, Prezi, Facebook, Podcasts, Teachertube, PBS, Textbook websites, USATestPrep, DiscoveryEd, Khan Academy, Online Writing Lab, Dropbox, Google Drive, Flickr, Creative Commons, CultureGrams, Brain Pop, World Book Online, Worldpress, Vimeo, Kahoot, Voki.com, Superteacher.com, Teachology, Quia.com, Quizlet.com, Educreation, StreamlineSC/ETV, Wikis, Pinterest, glencoe.com
b. For teachers’ enrichment
w3schools.com, vocabtest.com, lessonplanet.com, flocabulary.com, Screencast-O-Matic, teacher blogs, Teachers Pay Teachers, Socrative, todaysmeet.com, Proprofs.com, IB Online Center, AP College Board, history.com, HHMI Biointeractive, SC Standards, Educreation, Edutopia, Flipped Learning Network, Frenchified.com, French.about.com
6. Is there a system for evaluating student technology literacy in your school? If so, how effective or helpful have you found the assessment?
We have surveyed students to see if indeed they have certain devices at home or at school to use. However, no present evaluation exists for tech literacy.
7. Gather suggestions from students on their ideas for integrating technology into their learning.
Many of them would like their own laptop to use in classrooms. This is preferred over iPads, which the district has in the past two years gravitated toward purchasing. Only a few classrooms have their own sets. Most classes do not, including mine. Students prefer the laptop. They wish to be able to more easily and quickly access notes, take online tests, submit digital assignments, search for data, and work on projects in class.
Update: The bond referendum this year approved funds for laptop purchases. Every high school student in this district will be given the opportunity to have his/her own laptop at school for classroom use. These laptops are to be delivered and functional by November 2015.
8. What tools that are not presently available, would help to achieve district objectives?
The primary tool that would accelerate digital learning would be to abandon the BYOD policy the district currently has (bring your own device) and have each student posses a laptop or tablet. The BYOD’s limits include: students with no device, devices that are inadequate or broken, personal information and communication abilities that tempt and distract.
Update: Laptops are now being made available. See #7 above.
9. Using your Digital Learning Environment Inventory, develop a solution or suggest an improvement customized to your circumstance and curriculum. Create, implement and evaluate one change in a globalized lesson plan to use technology for learning in a meaningful way.
Direct collaboration with students from another country is my main intrigue. It began with handwritten letters written by high school students at a boarding school near Bamenda, Cameroon, telling of their daily routine, study habits, living conditions, subjects they’re taking, and general feelings about their education. They also asked questions of my students about the same topics. Letters were read in class. Students took them home to show their families. The school address in Bamenda, included with their letters, provided my students with an initial contact resource. Here, digital tools were to be used. Several letters were sent from my students to Bamenda, with invites to Facebook, emails, and the like. I arranged two Skype events with the students. Some of the actual students who wrote were on camera to speak to the students who had endeared their letter. General questions about school were entertained for the 30 minutes the Skype session endured.
From this I learned how easy (and difficult) the use of certain technology could be. The students have no problems with individual communication now. We did have issues with connectivity with Skype. The Internet there is somewhat reliable, but not widely used. Only one computer camera was available for a short time. The time difference (5 hours) was problematic in that certain students were not available to be seen. The topic and questions will have to be narrowed and more focused to make the best use of time also. This was a test for the unit study on Ebola that will have more specific content discussion.
The Greatest Impact
Of the myriad of technology items available to my classroom, the following has had (or will have) the greatest impact for my curriculum:
1. 1-on-1 devices: Students with laptops. Over the past two years, iPads have been purchased through the district for some elementary grades and limitedly for certain types of classes at the high school level. Recently, a bond referendum passed allowing for the purchase of PC laptops to be purchased for all high school students. We should be receiving these this fall. This will affect on how I teach and how they learn profoundly. We have relied thus far on BYOD, where some students attempt to research content on their own devices (see #8 above), or some computer lab, which is almost always swamped with scheduled testing, testing, testing.
2. Canvas. This district-wide program is a one-place depository of most of my material for my classes. Students can access lessons, presentations, documents, and websites. They can turn in assignments and have them returned to them with annotations for correction. I can produce an assessment on Canvas that they can take online, with certain types of questions automatically graded. Parents have an abridged access to the program to view content and activity.
This is new to the district (as of the fall of 2014) and has been introduced slowly this past year. While only a few teachers have embraced it wholly and submerged most of their content on it, many teachers have been much slower to learn and use it. This will be changing this coming year as the expectation changes to a wholesale use.
3. Promethean boards. This interactive board (the British version of the Smart Board) has been with us for a few years now. Its ability to be interactive with students (drawing, moving of objects, internet navigation, flip charts, etc.) has proven to be engaging and quite useful.
4. Cameras: In my science class, the use of personal devices' cameras prove to aid in lab writing and project development. Photos of lab procedural steps help students conceptualize how to explain something to someone else. Even the simple act of photographing what is seen through a microscope's eyepiece can be very valuable information to record. Photos and videos are used to develop online content for certain homework assignments or projects.
Luyen Chou - 03/05/2011
Technology offers the paradigm shift in education. So, what happened (or didn't)?
Heidi Hayes Jacobs - 03/05/2011
What year are you preparing your students for?
The Thinking Stick has great articles on education, including this one on classroom technology evaluation.
Providing a common vocabulary for schools to use when reflecting on their own technology integration programs, the TIM incorporates five interdependent characteristics of meaningful learning environments: active, constructive, goal directed (i.e., reflective), authentic, and collaborative (Jonassen, Howland, Moore, & Marra, 2003). The TIM associates five levels of technology integration (i.e., entry, adoption, adaptation, infusion, and transformation) with each of the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments. Together, the five levels of technology integration and the five characteristics of meaningful learning environments create a matrix of 25 cells (TIM, 2011). The matrix adds videos that highlight each of the matrix components in each of the core areas. (source)
More than 5,000 students at Rock Hill's three high schools will begin using this laptop computer – an HP EliteBook 840 G2 – this fall.
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