Digital Doors was created as a place for me to blog and share resources that I think would be helpful for teachers integrating technology in meaningful ways in their classroom. My goal would be to write a blog post a week, but with my busy schedule, that doesn't happen. I write when I can and rely on nifty tools to help me share what I am finding when I don't have time to write.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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NCCE Admin/IT Summit

On Wednesday, I attended an all day Tech Summit designed for district technology leaders. There was quite a large group there from a variety of districts throughout the region. We began with lively panel discussion moderated by Tim Lauer, where issues of filtering and blocking seem to be the heated point. The balance between protecting the infrastructure, following the law and allowing as much access to the real world as possible is always a heated topic.

Some of the key ideas in the panel discussion were as follows.
  • high touch,high tech, flexibility, accessibility
  • a good tool gets out of the users way.
  • parents that have options will choose the schools w/ project based learning, rich experiences, parents w/0 options will have students in schools that are focused on learning core subjects in traditional ways.
  • tech is not the core. excellent teachers and leadership is the core
  • all students needs are addressed
  • balance between success in core curriculum, and creativity, learning skills
  • differentiated instruction, multiple paths for students to get there.
  • hands on better than drill in kill
  • learning is messy
  • kids are involved as partners in their learning
  • ubiquitous access whenever needed
  • leaders who give teachers permission to be innovative
  • digital citizenship
  • authentic audiences

Most of the day was spent in groups with like sized districts exploring 5 essential questions.

1. Equity: How do 21st century schools meet the needs of diverse learners?

There was, of course, discussion about provided equitable and sufficient amounts of technology accessible to all students. But the meat of the conversation seemed to be about providing equitable instruction for all students. There is a real concern that even with access to equipment in classrooms, students are not getting equal access due to inequities in teacher training and or willingness to use equipment. Action steps included connecting students to resources both in school and in the community. Peer coaching to help teachers gain capacity and learn new skills. Leadership that encourages professional development for all in the areas of 21st Century Learning Skills.

2. Infrastructure: What are the elements of an infrastructure that meets the needs of 21st century schools?

Ideas discussed in this session had to do with focusing on the adaptability, scalability and reliability of technology in schools. We tend to jump at what is available, but not necessarily look to the future of how it is going to work in the system as a whole. We need to think beyond the classroom. Technology is a whole system. We need to think how everything works together including the home to school connection. Tech needs to modular and flexible to adapt to the needs of the system.

3. Data: How is data used in 21st century schools to improve learning and school performance?

In this session we talked about what is important to consider in data collection. Data must be easy to use to get the right data. There must be integrity of the data. Data must be well organized. It needs to be an important form of communication.

4. Leadership: What are the characteristics and actions of 21st century school leaders?

In the area of leadership. We talked about the need for leaders to have a shared vision. (Get the big idea.) They need to be technologically agile leading by example and participating in initiatives. The focus must be on the doing and the skills and not the stuff. It is more than a budget issue. Technology should not be compartmentalized. It should be expected to be embedded in all areas of learning . Leaders should be sharing success stories and encouraging innovation.

5. Policy: What policies need to be in place to leverage the power of technology effectively in today's schools?

We were short on time for this session, but we talked a little about the Washington State legislation that would require all districts to have an online learning component.

The power in the day for me was getting to know other educators and hearing issues and solutions from around the region.

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