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/