The link above is to my final unit plan. It contains all elements of the project condensed into one document. If you have any questions about this, please let me know!
This week we talked about policy proposals that we would like to see implemented at our school that would help pave the way for emerging technologies. This was also a relevant topic to my unit proposal and the two kind of go hand in hand. My unit proposal is for BYOD certification for all junior high students prior to access to the school network. To achieve that, there would need to be policies created prior to implementation. A policy requiring student training, a policy requiring teacher training, and a policy requiring students to bring a device were three of the major supports that would need to be set in place. Our school already has the intent to provide a BYOD environment and has created the infrastructure to support it. All that we need are the action policies to set everything into motion.
Of course with any new policy there is inevitably concern and potential resistance to change. So it is important that the parents and community get a chance to express concerns and learn more about the program prior to implementation. Some of the valuable feedback I got this week from the twitter chat dealt with this concept. Via discussions and other information sharing, parents will hopefully see how technology implementation will better prepare their students with 21st Century Skills and make them more employable. There is also going to be a need to get some of the teachers on board with the vision as well. The best way to do this is also educate the teachers about what the changes will look like, why they are needed, and how it will benefit our students. Some of the teachers will resist this change as will some parents, but we should not let that hold up the program. If we wait until we have 100% agreement, we will never implement anything.
Ideally we would begin discussions on these policies and the transition to BYOD privileges at GCS this fall. That would allow a full year of discussion, training, and opportunities for parents to begin saving up for an appropriate device. The biggest roadblock that I see is asking parents to provide a device and then having that device either used inappropriately, abused, or maybe worse of all… not used at school at all. This is where a strong vision of technology integration needs to be imparted to all stakeholders and teachers need to be provided the proper training and time to unpack the concept of technology integration. We don’t need every single person completely on board, but we do need everybody to know what we are doing, why we feel like it will help and that we expect these measures to positively impact student learning. Hopefully we can begin the road to implementation in 2016 and I look forward to the excitement these discussions will bring.
Across the globe technology has led to tremendous changes in education and we can only expect these changes to accelerate into the future. As a result of that, districts are desperately trying to develop, and rework policies that will allow them to provide for their students the best learning opportunities available today as well as tomorrow. School policies need to provide a mechanism for students to achieve authentic learning. Authentic learning is defined as, “real-world learning where students investigate important questions, construct knowledge and apply their learning outside of the classroom” (Andrews, 2013). The best way for authentic learning to happen at Grace Christian School (GCS) is for the district to acknowledge the power of technology and to create policies that allow for increased technological use. “Education is on the verge of a renaissance, as the digital revolution and technological advances offer the promise of providing each child with the high-quality personalized education they deserve. While the transformation will continue, old policy models can slow down and hinder the progress made across the country” (Hess, 2013). With that in mind there are several policy areas that need to be addressed at my school.
It is quite obvious that technology growth has reshaped education across the world. School districts, such as Alberta, Canada, who recognize this change and implement policies to support the growth are a step ahead. “Technology, in combination with human ingenuity, has fueled tremendous societal and economic shifts across the globe. Technologies are woven into the fabric of today’s society and, as such, must be integrated into the fabric of Alberta’s education system” (Andrews, 2013). It is important that GCS creates a culture of innovation in terms of technology integration. The best way to do this is to ensure that teachers receive training regularly on technological best practices when it comes to education. All teachers need regular training that will help us grow our students’ 21st Century Skills. “Just teaching teachers how to use technology may result in changes in students’ attitudes toward learning, but teaching teachers how to use technology in the context of problem-based learning gets positive results in students’ attitudes and in their content knowledge and classroom behavior” (Andrews, 2013). Technology education also helps teachers connect with other teachers who might be stagnant or working in isolation. This training will not happen unless there are specific policies that reinforce the district’s forward moving intentions. Principals need to evaluate teachers on their use of technology and partner with them in achieving district technology goals. “Policymakers would do well to ensure that teacher evaluation systems do not assume that most teachers will teach in schools that abide by the rhythms of the 19th-Century Horace Mann schoolhouse” (Hess, 2013).
Grace Christian School will provide annual training in technology education for all teachers.
Teachers will be evaluated on their use of technological integration and continued efforts to implement best practices in the classroom.
GCS also needs to move forward with BYOD policies that will allow teachers to provide student-centered learning activities that focus on creativity and critical thinking skills. While there are risks to opening up the network and allowing students to be on their devices, it allows for many more advantages. To mitigate risk, we employ an Internet Use Agreement, but it needs to be bolstered by more widespread student training. Internet Safety, Cyber Bullying, and Digital Citizenship need to be incorporated. “While you want to encourage the use of technology, you also have a responsibility to create a safe learning environment for all students. This raises a host of questions. Should you allow devices from home on your school network? Should certain websites be blocked? What role does social media play? How do you prevent Cyber bullying” (Winske)? These are very big questions that will need to be addressed by the board and stakeholders. Specific student training would provide the missing piece in our school’s desire for a BYOD environment as well as connect with the overall mission of the district. I have already created this training program designed for all 7th grade students at my school. Policies need to be written to require the implementation of this curriculum into the current technology class.
Grace Christian School will require ICT Literacy Skills Training (Internet Safety, Cyber Bullying, Digital Safety) course to all 7th grade students prior to receiving BYOD privileges.
A third policy that will assist in moving GCS forward is a commitment to replacing physical textbooks with digital textbooks and requiring that each student has a tablet, laptop or electronic device that can download this digital information. This policy works in conjunction with students achieving BYOD privileges via the policy above. While digital textbooks are not the most revolutionary method of technological implementation, it will provide a key mechanism that we can use to depart from physical textbook dependency and further implement a culture of technological innovation and creativity.
Grace Christian School will require all students to bring a digital device to download class textbooks and enhance classroom learning. The GCS technology department will provide loners and temporary devices to students on a limited basis.
These policy proposals will no doubt need some revision prior to implementation. However, they connect the broad Technology Plan Goals to a practical mechanism of implementation. Whether it is these policies that are implemented or others, steps are necessary for GCS to implement technology and provide our students with 21st Century Skills. Beginning the conversation and sharing proposals like this document with administrators at GCS is one way I can help move our district forward.
Andrews, K., Dach, E., & Lemke, C. (2013). Retrieved July 24, 2015, from https://education.alberta.ca/media/7792655/learning-and-technology-policy-framework-web.pdf
Winske, C. (n.d.). Tips for Creating Technology Policies for K-12. Retrieved July 24, 2015, from http://www.k12techdecisions.com/article/creating_an_acceptable_use_policy_for_mobile_learning_initiatives
Hess, F., Hochleitner, T., & Saxberg, B. (2013, October 22). E-Rate, education technology, and school reform. Retrieved July 25, 2015, from https://www.aei.org/publication/e-rate-education-technology-and-school-reform/
While not initially excited about this week’s blog topic I did arrive at several different realizations during my research and discussions this week. What I thought might not be a very relevant topic to me, did generate some knowledge gains!
First of all I was impacted by the evolution of crafting and what it means to be creative. I learned how people have the need to create and that how we express creativity has evolved (to some degree) with the technology. Arduino projects was one way that technology blends with traditional crafting as the wearer can combine LED lights with fabric to design some really cool things. While I do not consider myself a “crafter” and I don’t have an abundance of hobbies, I see how some of the social media outlets I am associated with allow me to express my creativity and uniqueness. I also am excited and interested in how these crafting opportunities will expand and evolve over time.
My second realization is that connecting how students express creativity with their learning is going to be essential for teachers/schools. This week some of us struggled with how this emerging technology will apply to the education of our students. It connects because it is important we hit them where they are! (Not literally, of course…) If students are excited about technology, and creating with technology, then we can find ways to incorporate this to their learning. Now I’m not saying that I have the answer about how I am going to blend Arduino projects into my Social Studies classroom, yet it does help for me to have knowledge about student interests. Projects in general where I allow students to think creatively and express digital creativity will appeal to them.
Third realization is that technology is advancing so rapidly that it is easy for one generation to fall into disconnect with another. An older generation my not view digital creative expression as authentic and worry over the future of our world. The teenage girl on her phone may be developing social skills and expressing creativity via her responses/posts on social media. Younger generations may view an older generation with some disrespect due to their technological dysfunction. There still is value in traditional crafting activities and younger generations should be open to these forms of expression as well.
Surprisingly, I learned a lot this week! While I am not inspired to try an Arduino project myself I am more appreciative of these types of activities and their place in the crafting world. I also was reminded that one of the best ways to connect to my students is by allowing them to express digital creativity. Finally, I have a couple really great Christmas gift ideas for my own kids, knowing that there are many transfer benefits from digital crafting activities. Who knows where time invested in these activities will lead? It may open a door, spark further interest, or even provide them with skills that will make them very employable in a future digital world.
Expressing creativity is an important part of many people’s lives. One way many humans express creativity is through crafts. What those crafts look like and how creativity is expressed has evolved over time. For my grandparents creativity was expressed gardening, collecting stamps/coins, knitting, crocheting, etc.. My parent’s version of creative expression might have included photography, scrapbooking, and painting on canvas. My wife and I customize photos on Instagram, share recipes on Pinterest, edit and update profiles on Facebook/Twitter and periodically mix in more traditional hobbies like gardening. All of these activities require a measure of creativity and provide for a sense of personal fulfillment and satisfaction and are an outlet/relief from stress (Dean, 2014). Electronics have become a viable addition to the crafting world with the increasing number of ways you can design, create and express yourself. It only causes me to wonder what new activities will exist for my children 10 years from now.
With the rapid growth of technology, older generations sometimes struggle to make sense or understand the value of digital activities. Entertainment and education are two areas that have undergone rapid alterations due to technological growth. Some traditional activities a generation ago, like reading a newspaper, have gone by the wayside in my family. My mother-in-law was frustrated when she visited earlier this summer and asked, “how do you get your news?” We seldom watch news shows, or read physical newspapers and her perception is that we are really uninformed. What she doesn’t realize is that I am not on my phone every morning playing games like Boom Beach/Clash of Clans (part of the time, but not all the time)… I read the news every morning (and throughout the day) when I review my Twitter feed and scroll through various news articles that I find interesting. Occasionally I comment on those news articles, and sometimes share them with others in my “social network”. My mother-in-law was also frustrated one evening as I was wildly thumbing away on my smartphone and her loud sigh seemed to indicate her annoyance with my device usage. While I think there is definitely a side conversation that could be had on the appropriate uses of digital devices…(Read: Even in a digital world, manners are important) what she didn’t understand was that I was in the middle of a class Twitter chat and needed to put my focus there (Adams, 2014). If I had a physical textbook out in front of my face she would have (perhaps) revered me as her proud academic son-in-law instead of her digitally detached and delinquent son-in-law.
Technology, education, and industry have all experienced tremendous changes as a result of rapid advances and future generations (digital natives) are going to gravitate towards the growing diverse methods of expressing themselves digitally. One example of this is with wearable e-textiles called Arduino projects. These smart textiles have grown over the last few years and many more advances are sure to happen as microcontrollers grow in power and shrink in size. “The diminutive microprocessor, designed to be incorporated into apparel or other soft goods, has easy connectors that integrate with a range of sensors and actuators with conductive thread. This combination opens a new platform for technology and fashion, allowing for easy projects like embedded LEDS, or more advanced projects like motorized, moving components that react from environmental conditions” (Einarson, 2013). From digital make-up to LED lit dresses, this technology will certainly catch the eye of both those in the industry hoping to market these products and also individuals who are inspired to create their own. Many of these are going to become more practical and certainly some can provide safety to the wearer. A bike turn signal jacket seems like a great development that may become standard in a few years. What was science fiction and utterly fantasy will rapidly be reality and affordable as advancements continue. In the movie Back to the Future II, actor Michael J. Fox got his futuristic clothing wet and they featured automatic dryers. After considering the landscape of Arduino technology one wonders how far away we are from that? Leah Buechley, creator of the LilyPad Arduino sees the applications of Arduino projects to currently be more specialized to specific items and feels we are still a long way from digital everything. “Do we want chips and batteries in every t-shirt? There have been some modest successes (blinky sneakers, heated winter wear, and body-sensing sports apparel), but the most compelling e-textiles work has taken place on smaller scales in the art and design worlds” (Mellis, 2014).
It is quite likely that traditional crafting will never go away. What I expect to see is the blending of traditional activities enhanced in some way by digital technology. Arduino projects are just one of the first larger scale examples of this. While some people don’t recognize the validity of digital crafting, its positive impacts are very real for the crafter. Digital crafts provide an enhancement to many people’s creative outlets of expression and are growing in popularity. One can only wonder what balance crafts and technology will strike as we look into the future.
Adams, J. (2014, August 10). Even in the digital world, manners are important. Retrieved July 21, 2015, from http://www.shreveporttimes.com/story/opinion/guest-columnists/2014/08/09/even-digital-world-manners-important/13824917/
Buechley, L. (2012, November 15). Leah Buechley: How to “sketch” with electronics. Retrieved July 15, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTBp0Z5GPeI
Dean, J. (2014, April 28). The Positive Effect of Creative Hobbies on Performance at Work – PsyBlog. Retrieved July 21, 2015.
Einarson, E. (2013, January 2). Go Bionic With These Wearable Arduino Projects. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://www.wired.com/2013/01/wearable-arduinos/
Mellis, D. (2014, February 4). Arduino Blog » Blog Archive » Sew electric with Leah Buechley – Interview. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/02/04/sew-electric-with-leah-buechley-interview/
Naumann, J. (n.d.). Digital Scrapbooking vs. Traditional Scrapbooking. Retrieved July 16, 2015, from http://freecraftfair.com/digital-scrapbooking-vs-traditional-scrapbooking/
This week’s blog probably hit closest to home for me. My final project is to design a Digital Citizenship/Safety course for students in junior high to take to in order to earn Bring Your Own Device access to our network. Our school is lacking in BYOD policies outside of a simple Internet Use Agreement, and so the discussions generated this week were very relevant and helpful for me in solidifying my approach.
The big question for me was what happens if a student abuses the technology access? Should schools take away that technology as it becomes so closely paired with their education? If you are asking teachers to go digital and depart from traditional paper and pencil assignments, physical textbooks, etc.… can you deny students that access if it is critical for earning a grade? My realization is that more than likely there will need to be other consequences for inappropriate uses such as detentions and suspensions for initial violations. I asked this question several times of my peers but we didn’t seem to hit on a consensus agreement on how this would be handled. I know that is out of the scope of the assignment… but it does seem to be a very real roadblock that schools will have to deal with as BYOD policies become prevalent. Ultimately, in discussion with Tristan, it seemed to make sense that if a series of abuses occur then students will lose technology privileges and will need to be given paper and pencil alternatives.
My other realization this week was that just because you create an infrastructure and policy that allows for digital devices in the classroom, does not in itself guarantee a greater learning environment. Teachers will need to develop skills, procedures and rules to help them manage the devices and will need proper training on how to utilize the technology in educationally beneficial ways. There are many management techniques available out there but teachers and students will need practice in working this out. Some teachers just aren’t going to embrace BYOD and I think the best thing to do is keep working with them and hopefully they will see the benefits. I don’t think the way our school system is structured that forcing teachers into compliance is going to open the door for a smooth transition.
BYOD policies are needed in every school. Even elementary students will have access to digital devices that can get on the Internet. It is important that we educate students on appropriate uses on digital citizenship, copyrights, and cyber bullying early or they will form bad habits that could have devastating consequences. Students mostly agree it is wrong to walk into a music store and steal a CD… but downloading illegal music doesn’t appear wrong to as many youth. We need to engage in digital citizenship discussions early and often. This is not just a training that a group of students needs to have one time with one teacher and then they are set. The community, parents, administration, and teachers all need to partner together to ensure that a BYOD rollout leads to quality educational benefits for the students. Sticking our heads in the sand and pretending that these challenges don’t exist and that students will figure out how to handle digital situations when they are grown up is a fairly ignorant approach. Proactive cyber citizenship education in partnership with a BYOD policy will help our students be prepared for the digital world.