Archive for the ‘Levels of Use’ Category

A few odds and ends keep showing up on my blog as I share examples of how to blog in various professional development workshops that I am facilitating this June.  We are podcasting, blogging, doing digital storytelling, video conferencing, trying out online tools, and experimenting with several tech gadgets including the Wii.  We have also been involved in Quest Atlantis professional development too.  It has been quite rewarding so far, and I myself have learned so much.  Our training resources can be found at one of my wikis:  HIT – Hokanson’s Instructional Technology Wiki. Enjoy!

As with anything to do with exercise you have to do it!

The Truth About Wii Fit And Weight Loss” Forbes

One of the first tasks I was faced with as a new educational technology specialist was to offer sustained technology professional development to the teaching staff in my district. Time is always an issue in education, and it was not unexpected to find this resource limited. My initial approach to developing training for teachers, in particular, was to deploy a modified levels of technology implementation (LoTi) survey at the beginning of the school year. This data provided me with a snapshot of where particular staff members were in specific buildings concerning technology use.  The survey will be deployed again at the beginning of the new school year to measure growth from what has been implemented from the previous instructional year.

The survey results identified a majority of users at the exploration/infusion stage of the model and, along with information from a recent McREL report, I began the process of gathering resources to provide exposure to various technology tools that exist for educational purposes. With a limited budget, myself as the only instructional technology professional, but with some excellent tools such as a new training lab of 27 Windows XP work stations, I developed a strategy to offer one hour training sessions, immediately after school hours, roughly two days per week. The focus of the training was for certified teachers, but I allowed paraprofessionals to attend the trainings too. Continuing education credits were offered as incentive to attend the trainings, and attendance was voluntary.

Hardware was the driving force of the initial offerings with a focus on the new SMART Board and iPod technology in the district and the use of teacher workstations and the software contained therein as foundational tools. This was expanded to introductions on Web 2.0 technologies such as blogging (WordPress & Blogger), wikis (PBWiki & Wikispaces), and eventually spread to podcasting, digital storytelling, and video production. These trainings were offered multiple times and at varying levels to meet the needs of new, developing, and master users.

Utilizing the internet as a curriculum tool was also a focus as new labs required activities for students to use. In the past, CD software for Macintosh computers had been used, but with a move to a single Windows platform approach the situation required some ingenuity to not accrue additional costs through purchasing software. Several online activities were found to supplement student use of the new computer systems. This approach continues as some teachers utilize the Del.icio.us online tool to organize web related resources and with an effort to create a district wide online repository of these online activities.

Over time, it became apparent that teachers required a place to serve staff created content. Our First Class client software allowed the use of its web publishing feature to offer up such creations. A focus on utilizing this software was implemented during the spring semester to enable users to place their content on a server for student use. The podcasting feature of First Class (version 8.3) provided an easy way for staff to record student stories, poems, and reports and to share it online with the school population, parents, the community, and the world. Several teachers started blogs and wikis to also share their curriculum and student generated content and media.

Digital storytelling was a natural step in the progression of initial technology implementation. Photo Story 3, Windows Movie Maker, and Power Point served as ready to use software for the staff and students. Basic training in the use of this software was provided, and teachers and students began the process of using these tools to generate content. The district web site served as a gateway in sharing this content and led to an increased awareness and interest in learning how staff members were implementing these tools in their classrooms.

As staff members attended various trainings, individual support was offered on site and several projects were completed alongside the teachers and students on a daily basis. This approach supplemented the teacher’s attendance and learning during the trainings and led to increased application of the new skills. Many teachers were surprised by the level of competence that students already had in utilizing these tools even at the Kindergarten and first grade levels. Failed attempts were re-evaluated and modified to meet the demands of time, resources, classroom and lab management, and scaling back the expectations of initial implementation generally remedied initial complications. The combination of training, support, and guidance during implementation provided a recipe for success.

An Open Lab was also offered during the spring semester to supplement after school trainings. These were held generally three times per week and allowed staff to come to the central office learning lab and get one on one attention with their various projects. A limited number of students also attended some of these sessions to learn how to implement technology and create content. A combination of after school trainings, individual support, and Open Lab time provided a way to accommodate the use of precious hours that were in limited supply. These trainings were extended by utilizing continuing education days and via professional learning community days where whole district, building, and multiple staff trainings were offered. Some professional training was also brought in specifically through eInstruction and their CPS clicker systems. Over 460 staff members received technology training over the course of the school year with 25% of that number returning for multiple trainings. All staff had multiple opportunities for training via the two continuing education days offered over the school year.

With the end of the school year a summer training program was also implemented and staff voluntarily spent time in extended learning workshops during the summer months. This program is continuing and will be expanded for the next summer. In all 60 staff member have utilized the summer training sessions that provided time to work on blogging, wikis, podcasting, digital storytelling, video, utilizing the internet, and computer basics.

The key component to the success of this technology training implementation was the addition of a full-time educational technology specialist to facilitate and implement such a training program. The knowledge and experience of a former classroom teacher with specialized instructional technology training enabled this program to come to fruition. Instructional technology professionals can make a huge impact in a school district as they work together with a supportive administration, teachers who see a concerted effort to meet their technology integration goals, and via a technology staff that provides superior support for the district’s network, hardware, and software implementation.

Laptop I get asked from time to time what is a good laptop for under $1000. PC World has issued this article titled “The Best Laptops Under $1000.” Getting the biggest bang for your buck is important in today’s world, and these seem to be good buys. Of course there are other options, and Apple has the Macbook that starts at $1099 or $999 with the education discount.

As with any purchase do your homework and come up with what you want to accomplish with your new computer especially if you are a student or teacher. Ask yourself what programs are required, is there a specific operating system that you need to use, and what will be comparable to what you use at school.

Processor speed, hard drive size (a small drive fills up fast), and memory (I recommend at least 1 GB) are important components to consider. Laptops are generally not very expandable; so, make sure you think of any extras you may need (rewritable CD/DVD drive, ports such as USB 2.0, Firewire, a memory card reader, etc.). If you need extras, your price may exceed $1000, but you will spend more anyway once you realize you may need to add peripherals.

Also, make sure you look to see what software comes with the computer as that is another cost that you will incur if the computer doesn’t arrive with much. Open source software like Open Office (FREE “Office” suite), GIMP (PhotoShop-like program), and Audacity (audio editor) are FREE alternatives to common software that you may need to be productive, but you need to do your homework to find out if programs like these will meet any requirements you may have. Happy shopping!

PBS Frontline special (Can be viewed online at the program web site):  “Growing Up Online.”

Desks Today I offered a mini-class on SMART Boards and invited a teacher who I have heard high praises on to assist in showcasing the basics of using the board in instruction. Tara is one of many great teachers in my new school district, and I am just in awe of the dedication and willingness to share, learn, and grow here. So many educators are pushing the frontiers of technology in education and even more are taking the steps necessary to take a leap into the innovative approaches that are making their way into classrooms across the globe. I have to admit I have had my doubts the past few years as to whether or not this whole education thing was going to turn around and make some gains in real, meaningful, engaging, and relevant learning for our youth. It is happening here. It is by no means easy, and the challenges that we face as educators at times is disconcerting, but there is hope, initiative, bravery, and desire. These things add up to the beginnings of a network of learners, and as we learn about and use the tools that can continue to link us together we become a learning community that can do, teach, and change anything. I see all of this more and more each day, and I am glad to be a small part of it.

I am reflecting on integrating technology in the learning process, and Everett Rogers’ “Diffusion of Innovations” text keeps coming to mind.  Wikipedia has a concise summary of Rogers theory:

Diffusion of innovations theory was formalized by Everett Rogers in a 1962 book called Diffusion of Innovations. Rogers stated that adopters of any new innovation or idea could be categorized as innovators (2.5%), early adopters (13.5%), early majority (34%), late majority (34%) and laggards (16%), based on a bell curve. Each adopter’s willingness and ability to adopt an innovation would depend on their awareness, interest, evaluation, trial, and adoption. Some of the characteristics of each category of adopter include:

  • innovators – venturesome, educated, multiple info sources, greater propensity to take risk
  • early adopters – social leaders, popular, educated
  • early majority – deliberate, many informal social contacts
  • late majority – skeptical, traditional, lower socio-economic status
  • laggards – neighbours and friends are main info sources, fear of debt

Rogers also proposed a five stage model for the diffusion of innovation:

  1. Knowledge – learning about the existence and function of the innovation
  2. Persuasion – becoming convinced of the value of the innovation
  3. Decision – committing to the adoption of the innovation
  4. Implementation – putting it to use
  5. Confirmation – the ultimate acceptance (or rejection) of the innovation”

Also, I am thinking of Dr. Chris Moersch’s Levels of Technology Implementation, and the connection with Rogers.  As instructional or educational technology specialists, how have you implemented these ideas into your areas of focus (especially in K-12 settings)?  What tools have you used to measure current levels of use and growth over time?

PEW The PEW Internet & American Life Project released results on technology use. Part of their press release reads as follows:

“Fully 85% of American adults use the internet or cell phones – and most use both. Many also have broadband connections, digital cameras and video game systems. Yet the proportion of adults who exploit the connectivity, the capacity for self expression, and the interactivity of modern information technology is a modest 8%.

Fully half of adults have a more distant or non-existent relationship to modern information technology. Some of this diffidence is driven by people’s concerns about information overload; some is related to people’s sense that their gadgets have more capacity than users can master; some is connected to people’s sense that things like blogging and creating home-brew videos for YouTube is not for them; and some is rooted in people’s inability to afford or their unwillingness to buy the gear that would bring them into the digital age.

These findings come from the Pew Internet Project’s typology of information and communication technology (ICT) users. The typology categorizes Americans based on the amount of ICTs they possess, how they use them, and their attitudes about the role of ICTs are in their lives. Ten separate groups emerge in the typology.”

To me the interesting part of the study shows: “Some 49% of all Americans have relatively few technology assets.”

Click the following link to access the full report and questionnaire.