Fort Worth Independent school district (FWISD) moved to a one to one initiative in 2015- 2016 school year. One to one initiative is best described as each student having a device like a laptop or an iPad. In FWISD, this device is a laptop. Through this initiative, FWISD continues to achieve equity in access and continuous improvement. This initiative brought information and ability to research and collaborate at the very fingertips of students. Students love technology and educators are at crossroads as to how to use it appropriately to achieve the goals outlined by FWISD
The influx of technology usage has also brought with it a plethora of problems not anticipated. Some of those problems include, but not limited to, students not being able to access Wi-Fi outside of school, teachers not properly trained on management of classroom with 1:1 devices, students and teachers not well trained in using learning platforms for online or flipped classroom. An expected outcome of this initiative is increased student achievement, which is in line with the FWISD mission ‘Preparing students for success in college, career and community leadership’.
Learning Management Systems (LMSs) such as have gained traction over the years, finding use in upwards of 55% of U.S. public schools (Queen & Lewis, 2011). LMSs like promise features that can completely revolutionize the way teachers structure their classes. In the face of this change, however, many educators become nervous about the integration process and everything that surrounds the use of an LMS (Song, Wang & Liu, 2011).
ItsLearning (2011) is a learning management system with origins from Bergen University in Norway. It is used widely in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands, UK, Spain, Italy, France, Germany, USA and Brazil. ItsLearning prides itself in knowing the needs for educations because more than 20% of its staff are former teachers (ItsLearning Inc. n. d). It is a very personalized learning platform which encourages collaboration, enable students’ voice and choice as well as empower students to be creators rather than consumers (ItsLearning Inc. n. d.).
ItsLearning describes a learning platform as a software application that gives teachers, learners, parents and administrators access to common resources, communication tools and information, not just within the school but outside it too. Learning platforms can reduce teacher workload, minimize expenditure on IT and administration, and enhance learning and teaching both in and outside the classroom (page 2, para 4).
As with any group of individuals, some teachers jumped right in while others were slower in accommodating this change. New teachers and teachers who were comfortable using technology, easily assimilated. Veteran teachers were slow to embrace the change, because FWISD frequently introduced new products which do not last long enough for the teachers to see measurable change. Teachers began developing content on other learning platforms like Edmodo, Google Classroom, OneDrive, and Blackboard as well as their own websites in the event that the district discontinued ItsLearning, as it had previously done with other initiatives.
At the beginning of 2015-2016 school year, professional development (PD) for ItsLearning was rolled out. Although most teachers attended the PD, they did not implement it in the classroom. A few teachers implemented some aspects but they too were not consistent. In January, 2016 the Dean of Instruction at Eastern Hills High School (EHHS) requested that teachers post their lesson plans and Warm-ups on ItsLearning. By August 2016, the request became a mandate that two aspects of ItsLearning would be implemented in the 2016-2017 school year. The two components were the Warm-ups and lesson plans.
Wichadee, S. (2015) studies factors related to faculty members’ attitude and adoption of an LMS and found that ease of use and usefulness of the LMS were significantly correlated with the teachers’ attitudes. The central question in this study will be to determine what factors play a significant role in influencing the uptake of technology in a North Texas Urban High school. The questions will be framed as follows:
- Will perceived ease of use have a direct positive influence on the intention to use ItsLearning?
- Will perceived ease of use have a direct positive influence on perceived usefulness of ItsLearning?
- Will perceived usefulness have a direct positive influence on the intention to use ItsLearning?
LMS have many beneficial features for their users. Lui and Cavanaugh (2011), studied the effect of LMS use on academic achievement in virtual high school biology class. The results of the study show that the time students spend in the LMS positively affected their overall score in the class.
LMSs also increase the quantity and quality of communication. Teachers communicate and store course information, such as syllabi, assignment instructions, and instructional materials (Rubin et al. 2010). This allows students to have constant access to the course material. Teachers also use the LMS platform to provide comments and feedback to students, two crucial features of the online learning process (Hashey & Stahl, 2014; Lochner et al., 2015). Hashey and Stahl (2015) explain that “online interactions between teachers and students is either synchronous, with teacher-student interactions occurring in real time (e.g., video chat), or asynchronous, with interactions occurring at different times (e.g., email)” (p. 70). Discussion forums, Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds, chats, emails, podcasts, and video-sharing sites foster a collaborative learning environment and prompt learning to take place after school hours and outside the classroom (Cavanaugh et. al., 2004; Lochner et al., 2015). The amount to time students spend on the LMS engaged in academic activities results in increased academic performance Cavanaugh (2007).
Various media, audio, video and text is used to deliver content to students. These multiple resources provide educators with the opportunity to create and diffentiate materials in order to meet the needs of a variety of learners at various levels of achievement (Hashey & Stahl, 2014). LMSs support a learner-centered environment (Lochner et al., 2015; Revere & Kovach, 2011). And provide students, with a range of abilities and disabilities, greater and constant access to curricula and learning opportunities and additional ways to demonstrate their understanding when multiple options for student expression are made available.
Although LMSs provided these numerous services acknowledge that many teachers do not utilize LMSs to their fullest potential. Many teachers fail to create online learning scenarios that are engaging. . Some of the reasons researchers have identified include, the speed at which technology is changing, students limitation to access the internet or a computer. (Hashey & Stahl 2014; Revere & Kovach 2011). Teachers also have to make themselves available 24/ to check emails/discussing boards and responding to students (Keeton & Scholar, 2004).
An & Reigeluth (2011) found that learner-centered teachers believed that technology, is integral in teaching and helps students learn as well accomplish tasks more effectively and efficiently. The teachers they sampled supported the use of technology in the classroom and were willing to take time to learn and use new technologies. They also indicated a belief that incorporating technology into the curriculum was part of their job. These teachers identified lack of technology, and their lack of knowledge on ways to integrate technology as major barriers.
Smet, Bourgonjon, Wever, Schellens, & Valcke, (2012) found that perceived ease of use is the strongest predictor in LMS acceptance while technology support has a direct effect on informational and communication use and on subjective norm. Gautreau, (2011) studied the effect of demographics on motivation factors that influence adoption of an LMS and the ranking order o of motivation factors related to the adoption of an LMS. She found that faculty who had experience and were proficient with technology in general, were likely to use technology in instruction. The level of technology proficiency coincides with a faculty members use of technology in their personal life. This finding is consistent with Roblyer, 2005. Gautreau, 2011 also found that salary, responsibility and student achievement were ranked as the greatest motivation factors.
Lochner et al. (2015) compiled information from 2880 full-time teachers working in Arizona public secondary schools to examine their concerns regarding the adoption of LMSs. The results indicated that the top four most significant concerns were awareness, management, personnel and information concerns, in order of declining concern. They found that more intense concerns among teachers were correlated with resistance to implementing the technology. In response to their findings regarding Arizona secondary schools, Lochner et al. (2015) recommend that school administrators develop activities and interventions that aim to address the most significant concerns first.
Song et al. (2011) suggested different support factors have various effects on faculty concerns. some of these factors include staff development opportunities, incentives and positive attitudes towards the technology, improved student learning, equipment availability, ease of use, time needed to learn the skills required to implement the new technology, compatibility with materials, training, administrative support, personal comfort and colleague use. Table 1 illustrates four of Hall’s (1978) categories of concern and the associated support factors and strategies found to decrease the concerns.
LMS have many beneficial features for their users.
Development and submission of lesson plans is part of the contractual requirement. These lesson plans were required to be turned in weekly. Some veteran teachers were resistant to development and submission of lesson plans because they thought that teaching came naturally. Novice teachers were often swamped with writing a lesson plan and fidelity in its implementation. Needless to say, both groups of teachers understood the terms of their contracts and proceeded to develop and submit lesson plans accordingly. In EHHS, lesson plan submissions are usually about 90-100% at the beginning of the year, after a faculty meeting or after technology training. As the
The desired goal is that all the teachers will submit their lesson plans weekly on ItsLearning in whatever type (detailed, semi-detailed or understanding by design) and that Warm-ups would also be uploaded to ItsLearning by all teachers regardless of content they taught.
In order to achieve the desired goal of 90-100% submission of lesson plans and Warm-ups on ItsLearning, the following assumptions are made:
It is understood that development and submission of lesson plans are part of their contractual agreements. It is also understood that both veteran and novice teachers know how to lesson plan based on the Curriculum Frameworks on the FWISD website.
Teachers must engage in lesson planning before delivering their lessons. Using the objectives or desirable goals set out by the state or the district, they must determine activities and best practices that will communicate the concepts, ideas and skills students are expected to learn. Objectives must be measurable. Heinich, Molenda, Russell, and Smaldino (2001) refer to the ABCD’s of writing objectives:
- Audience – learners for whom the objective is written (e.g., English language learners, ESL)
- Behavior – the verb that describes what the audience will be able to do (e.g., describe, explain, locate, synthesize, argue, communicate)
- Condition – the circumstances under which the audience will perform the behavior (e.g., when a learner obtains medicine from the pharmacy, he or she will be able to read the dosage)
- Degree – acceptable performance of the behavior (i.e., how well the learner performs the behavior)
Hunter (1982), proposed a six step cyclic method of lesson planning which is Warm-up, Introduction, Presentation, Practice, Evaluation, Application (WIPPEA). This method of lesson planning is widely used in EHHS and FWISD.
The assumption is that all teachers will be appropriately and adequately trained on the use of ItsLearning to upload lesson plans and Warm-ups at the beginning of the school year and that there will be follow up trainings throughout the year. It is also understood that through constant monitoring that teachers who do not upload lesson plans after the first 3 weeks of the school year will receive additional individualized training.
Alden (2007), suggests that common characteristics among effective teacher training programs are: incentives and support for teacher training; teacher-directed training; adequate access to technology; community partnerships; and ongoing informal support and training opportunities. ItsLearning (2011), promises greater collaboration between teachers, parents and students, saving teachers time. There are webinars available for various topics including flipped classrooms and maximizing teacher effectiveness. They also offer individualized training sessions customized to each organizations needs and circumstances.
It is expected that the teachers will submit their lesson plans every week, prior to the lesson being administered in class. This is made possible because one can access ItsLearning from anywhere since it’s a cloud based application.
It is assumed that ItsLearning will duly inform FWISD on proposed maintenance of their site. It is also assumed that FWISD will keep the internet in good working condition to allow the teachers maximum bandwidth. ItsLearning promises to take care of all the technical issues such as maintenance, upgrades, backup and data security. They guarantee 99.7% uptime, so schools can focus on the things that matter most to teachers, students, and parents. (ItsLearning 2011). Technical support is also offered on demand through live chat, online help or ticket submission.
While it is easy for teachers at EHHS to complain and things that are beyond their control for example what the district mandates to use as a learning platform, it is important for them to do their best to integrate technology in their classroom as best practices. Moreover, the world and the field of education are rapidly changing and conforming to technology more than ever. Most learning platforms conform to the same basic configurations. The use of ItsLearning by teachers can only be beneficial to them if and when FWISD does change to another platform.
PREPARING TO INTERVENE
Each teacher is required to submit a lesson plans regardless of the content they teach. And in 2016-2017 each teacher will be required to upload Warm-ups on ItsLearning. These two components are easy to learn for the teacher and measurable. During teacher work days, department heads will be required to provide support for teachers in exploring ItsLearning in the hope of adopting two more elements for the subsequent school year. The dean of instruction has administrative rights which allows her to see all the lesson plans submitted each week as well as all the teachers who have uploaded the Warm-ups on ItsLearning. The data will be collected in percentages on a monthly basis.
Some of the comparisons will include inter and intra departmental comparisons, comparison between Warm-ups and lesson plan submissions, survey the challenges for non-core content teachers in achieving these goals. Surveys will also be done to collect impact data both baseline and outcome data.
The stakeholders in EHHS include a teacher population of 100, 6 administrators, 8 department heads, technology liaison/ tie, FWISD department of technology and the community. The roles of administrators are communicating effectively and providing a schedule for training, following up with struggling teachers and providing this information in a timely manner to facilitate individualized interventions, sharing and perpetuating a culture of common goals and vision.
Department heads will work directly with the teachers. They will be the first line of support and communication to and from the teachers. They will help teachers deal with content specific problems. Department heads can also develop shorter professional development programs and identify teachers within their departments that are embracing this technology and exceling at it and ask these teachers to peer teach their colleagues especially during content planning.
The technology liaison’s job is to effectively train all teachers in group sessions or individualized setting. The liaison is to provide and facilitate training throughout the school year and during the summer season. The liaison will visit with specific teacher for individualized interventions. The technology liaison /tie also needs to keep teachers abreast with changes in ItsLearning as well as communicate the district’s technology plan.
The teacher population’s responsibility is to attend the training, communicate misunderstandings effectively, commit to a shared vision and goals and most importantly participate in the intervention. The teachers are also responsible for implementing what they learn and seeking out resources when they need them.
The department of technology will incentivize teacher trainings by offering technology that can be used in class or payments to teachers when they come for training outside their contracted time. The department of technology together with the liaison will share the goals and mission of the district with the teachers.
The community at large and especially parents will be trained in the school library to be able to access grades and assignment for their students. Students who are absent will be able to access their learning material on Its Learning and be caught up with work. In future, business and other community members will be encouraged to post scholarships, support for different school organizations and jobs that are open to high school students as well as other partnerships.
There were limitations to this program implementation that were foreseen. Firstly, the speed at which teachers learned ItsLearning and applied it to the class with confidence was not easily measurable until after a couple of weeks of school. While only two aspects of ItsLearning were expected to be implemented, teachers got overwhelmed on the first days school with other things like schedule changes and levelling of classes. Secondly, the amount of time allocated for whole group training was determined by how many other items on the agenda need immediate attention during a faculty meeting. Thirdly, EHHS moved to block scheduling in the 2016-2017 school year. This adjustment required additional training on lesson planning for block schedules which took precedence over ItsLearning. And fourthly, the school administration decided to consider ItsLearning as a form of best practices together with a sea of other learning management systems like OneNote and Google Classroom. Intended outcomes that were realized included achievement of established goals, greater collaboration and sharing of with online communities, accessibility to more online resources, increased parental interaction with their students learning and better preparation of students for the world beyond high school. Some unintended outcomes were lack of face to face interaction, plagiarism of other teachers’ resources, lack of creativity and the google effect.
The driver diagram outline below formed the basis of our pathway to achieving the outline goals. And the intervention program outline below was implemented and modified according to the faculty’s needs.
The Driver Diagram
|1||Workshop, whole faculty (Lesson Plans)||-Impact data baseline
-Basic training on ItsLearning
|-Recording teachers’ responses to Learning Platforms though a survey
-Post training reflection
|2||Informal conversations||Informal conversations
Analysis of wk. 1 and 2 data
|Informal conversations are discussed and next steps are determined|
|3||Individual Interventions||Team leaders reach out to faculty members and engaged in informal conversations about ItsLearning especially those that are not yet submitting the lesson plans||-Informal conversations feedback and scheduling of additional training to the struggling teachers.
– Next steps for non-struggling teachers
|4||Observations and Review||Applications of Individual interventions||Data collected after individual interventions combined with all other data|
|4||Survey on ItsLearning||Identify different levels of mastery||Collected data on levels of mastery. This data was used to inform next pd|
|5||Workshop, small group (Warm-ups)||Basic training on ItsLearning *Warm-up uploads
*Lesson plan uploads
|-Post training reflection
|5||Workshop, small group||Training on
* maintaining a gradebook of ItsLearning
*Giving student feedback
|5||Workshop, small group||Training on
*Student developing portfolios
*Collaboration with other educators
*Creating a content library
|6||Informal conversations||Informal conversations
Analysis of wk. 5 data
|Informal conversations were discussed and next step is determined|
|7||Individual Interventions||Team leaders reach out to faculty members and engaged in informal conversations about ItsLearning especially those that are struggling||-Informal conversations feedback and scheduling of additional training to the struggling teachers.
– Next steps for non-struggling teachers
|8||Whole group||Impact data – outcome assessment||-Recording teachers’ responses to Learning Platforms though a survey|
|9||Admin||Final Evaluations and analysis of interventions||Feedback|
My Big Campus (MBC) was an LMS used previously by FWISD. After a year of using MBC, Lightspeed systems the proprietor of MBC announced in May 2015, that MBC was scheduled for end of life and support on July 31, 2016. FWISD procured ItsLearning through the Department of Technology. Soon after procurement, directives were passed down from downtown, concerning the required use of ItsLearning. Promptly, coalitions began to form. Some were for and some were against and others did not care that much
When the new superintendent was hired in 2016, he quickly discovered after reviewing the practices of the district discovered that there were over 800 different methods and techniques for teaching used. He decided to standardize the method of teaching to create uniformity from elementary all the way to high school. He introduced Direct Interactive Instruction (DII). Direct Interactive Instruction involves consistent, persistent, and creative application of four components: (1) Standards and Measurable Objectives, (2) Lesson Structure and Sequence, (3) Student Engagement, Feedback, and Correctives, and (4) Proactive Classroom Management. Each of these essential components has identifiable, explicit, observable characteristics that differentiate it from the other three and from traditional approaches to instruction. DII as a set of teacher planning and delivery techniques can be applied to all content areas and grade levels. (http://www.actionlearningsystems.com)
He mandated two full days of training in the summer and hired coaches to act as support systems at campus levels.
Department of Technology
Department of Technology also unveiled bulletin 100 (http://www.fwisd.org/Page/2153). Bulletin 100 outlines the technology expectations of all levels of employees including the teachers and the principals. It also outlines other technology classes that teachers can take to enhance their teaching and best practices. Bulletin 100 is a good resource for new teachers and seasoned teachers as well.
Trainings are differentiated to meet the needs of the campus based upon the Campus Digital Learning Program and the BrightBytes survey data. Campus Technology Learning Coaches are divided into zone teams. These teams allow the coaches to work collaboratively within their team and across content areas to increase the level of technology integration and utilization across the district. In bulletin 100, no special preference is given to any learning management system.
Avid Team and the Kagan Team
AVID (Advancement Via Individual Determination) trains educators to use proven practices in order to prepare students for success in high school, college, and a career, especially students traditionally underrepresented in higher education by brings research‐based strategies and curriculum to educational institutions in elementary, secondary, and higher education. The AVID System annually provides 60,000+ educators with training and methodologies that develop students’ critical thinking, literacy, and math skills across all content areas throughout the entire campus, in what we call Schoolwide AVID. (www.avid.org)
Kagan Cooperative Learning claims that when students are engaged, they pay attention, they’re motivated, they learn more, and the learning sticks. The biggest difference between the Kagan approach and teaching using traditional methods is the ability to engage every student. Traditional classroom teaching captures the minds and attention of some students, but not all. Good teachers engage more students. But even the best teachers who use traditional instruction don’t require every student to participate. With traditional instruction, there is always a subset of students who fall through the cracks. We’re all too familiar with the results: a widening gap between high achievers and low achievers (www.kaganonline.com).
Teachers who use AVID or Kagan structures were finding it difficult to adopt ItsLearning. Avid supports individual work while Kagan is about cooperative learning as a team. Some teachers could not clearly articulate the role of Its Learning vs Kagan or AVID. They thought that they had to abandon either of these teaching methods for ItsLearning.
Other LMS Teams
Team google classroom and Team OneNote considered ItsLearning to be inferior to their LMS. Some of their impressions stemmed from: a) having used google classrooms and/ or OneNote for a long time and they were hesitant to change. b) Google classroom and OneNote offered allows collaboration and sharing while saving time and providing options for differentiation within similar classes. c)Use of Google Classroom and /or OneNote is particularly helpful when a member of the team does not share planning time and is also a great aid for the PLC. d) While using Google Classroom and /or OneNote students do not have to submit their work, as soon as they begin to work on it you can comment on it and grade as they work, while with ItsLearning, the teacher had to wait till the students finished working and uploading the assignment. Then the teacher had to download it, grade it, comment on it and then upload once more. e) Google Classroom and /or OneNote work was always available if the students forgot to save their assignments.
The School administrators
The principal and his leadership team soon found themselves in a quagmire. They made a decision to pursue best practices policy. They decided that not over initiative would be preferred over another and that teacher were free and capable of making their own decisions as long as they were following the district technology plan as outlined by the Department of Technology. They communicated this new modus operando at the end of the first semester. However, they clearly made a distinction on the functions of each technology initiative and encourage the teachers to form professional learning communities (PLC), grouping themselves with others who shared their interests. They tasked the department chairs with the responsibility to make sure that each teacher was utilizing technology and growing.
The purpose of having advanced technology is to make the lives of people easier and better. With one touch, everything’s done; with one click, everything’ set; with one log-in, everyone’s reachable – everything is made to be accessible. That is probably why educational institutions have adapted this innovational change in the world. Schools today have inculcated the use of advanced technology in learning – with the hope of making studies easier and better and making students globally competitive.
Recently Fort Worth Independent school district (FWISD) has moved to a 1:1 initiative. 1:1 initiative is best described as each student having a device like a laptop or an iPad. In FWISD, this device is a laptop. This is a very exciting time as FWISD continues to achieve equity in access and continuous improvement. This initiative brought information and ability to research and collaborate at the very fingertips of students. Students love technology and educators are at crossroads as to how to use it appropriately to achieve the goals outlined by FWISD.
The idea of providing a laptop and access for every student is very romantic and could easily be mistaken to provide equity in learning. However, this technology is useless in the hands of the students if they have never had a class on basic computer operations. In EHHS, over 95% of the students sampled (n=120) said that only two of eight teachers used their laptops. Further consultation of students revealed that they do not think that their teachers are equipped enough to teach using technology. If this statement is true that teachers are not well trained to use technology, then the 1:1 initiative in this school is useless. But in other schools, students were already bringing their own devices to school, so the movement from personal devices to school owned devices did not produce a learning curve because the students were already familiar with the devices.
The school board does not mandate or require use of technology, but principals are advised to encourage their faculty to use technology. Informal conversations with faculty uncovered that teacher have all but given up. They complain about having to develop two lesson plans for technology and for those without. I wonder though if this school was in a different setting, with different dynamics, if the teachers would behave in the same way.
The packaging was attractive, we will pilot the program in this school and then we will roll out the 1:1 a whole year before the other schools. Perhaps by the time the other (more privileged) schools had their own devices, this school would have flashed out whatever problems would be associated with the roll out.
The equity issues cannot be fully discussed because teachers did not want to bring up the race or the economically disadvantaged issues.
OUTCOMES AND ANALYSES
The outcomes of the implementation of the program were measured by surveys and interviews with teachers and students. Some of the initial surveys were used to gauge where teachers were in their knowledge of using an LMS.
The first survey was done about 5 weeks into the school year. This baseline survey was used on inform the subsequent training that would take place during PLCs. The trainings that were held were not the initial trainings. That was done before the school year began.
Fig. 1: Knowledge of LMS (Its Learning
Beginner: A teacher who had not yet logged on to Its Learning, uploaded lesson plans or warm ups and does not understand basic navigation of the site.
Intermediate: A teacher who has already set up their classes and has begun asking students to submit their work on Its Learning, and they themselves were uploading content for students to use.
Advanced: A teacher who used calendars and planners, gradebook reports, and was capable of developing and using assessments. A teacher who uses students’ groups to differentiate work and knows how to use Its Learning to give feedback to the students.
Ready to Train: A teacher who is comfortable with all the menu options, uses Its Learning as a communication and collaborative tool both for the students and other teachers. A teacher who is willing to post their resources in the library for other to use.
In the middle of the second semester, a survey was sent out and the data is represented below.
Fig. 2: Use of LMS- Its Learning
Fig 3: Use of LMS –One Note
Fig 4: Use of Online Resources
Fig 5. Laptop use in Class
What we discovered as an organization is that about less than half of the teachers were using Its Learning (74% of 42 responses= 31 teachers, Fig 2). The survey was sent out to 100 teachers and only 42 responded and their responses are recorded. The 74% that was using Its Learning daily or once a week might also fall in the category of advanced users and ready to train teachers (Fig 1).
Another assumption that was made was that teachers were not using Its Learning but preferred to use other LMS like One Note, but the results indicate that about 5 teachers only use One Note and two others use Blackboard (Fig.3)
When the teachers were polled about how often they use online responses, the result was 90 % of the polled teachers said the used online resource daily or at least once a week. This is about 40 teachers. The number is higher than those who use Its Learning because online resources are not limited to an LMS. They could be websites where they collect content or videos. Lastly on the question of how often students used their laptops, 38 teachers responded that they use laptops daily or once a week.
Some unintended outcomes include further differentiation for gifted and talented students. Because some teachers are putting most of their content online, some of the intrinsically motivated students tend to read ahead and get way ahead of the class. While this is good, it also adds a bit of a burden to the teacher to prepare way in advance, although I doubt that any teacher would complain about the self-driven students.
The school board invested millions of dollars in choosing to go to 1:1 initiative. However, they have not outlined in their policies that they require teachers to use technology on a daily basis. While I am not suggesting that teachers be required to use the same technology, I am suggesting that teachers be required to use it. In this case study, this survey had only six questions and even then less than half the teachers responded. It becomes difficult to make technology decisions based on half the responses.
Another recommendation would be to give a stipend to teachers when they do attend technology classes. The department of technology is already trying this out with badges and technology teachers can use in class as rewards. However, I don’t think that the word has spread enough and most teachers are not aware.
Lastly a major setback in using technology in our classes is also because it is not embedded in the curriculum. The department of technology suggests that Directors of Curriculum are responsible for this addition of technology to the curriculum. Every summer the curriculum developers for science meet and update their curriculum to include new technology. But it is not clear if other departments do the same.
In this project I interacted with people at various levels. Some interactions were longer than others (weeks or months) while others were brief, perhaps a couple of hours. Due to the nature of this document, peoples’ names have been changed to maintain integrity and workplace cohesion.
Multipliers: Shane, Wendy and Diana
Shane is a genius maker, she knows how to scout and attract talent magnet. Whenever she notices potential, she gives you a challenge and liberates you to work in your own space. She gives credibility to all your ideas. She always expects the best and always gets the best. She once gave me a task of incorporating technology in an aspect of curriculum. She believed I could do it and I did.
Wendy always has the best interests of the organization at heart. She is an accidental diminisher. She does not know that she should let the people fail so they can learn from their mistakes. She jumps in to solve the problems. She is the pace setter and fast responder. When working with her I feel like my ideas are good but she has another way of doing whatever she has envisioned.
Diana is a diminisher. She strongly believes in building an empire around herself. Whatever decisions that are made have to suit her. She takes your ideas and she pitches them as her own. She believes that she runs a smooth organization, but no one has a say and nobody bothers because they don’t want an ugly fight. She knows it all and will often say “been there done that” to a suggestion. In the process of implementing technology, she gave me several opportunities to train other because she was not well prepared.
A more beautiful Question: Audrey
“We’re all hungry today for better answers. But first, we must learn to ask the right questions.” Warren Berger
MS Audrey was training for a day at our campus. She had already perused through the data and saw the gaps that existed. Yes, we had an achievement and a technology gap between gender and race. While this is known nationwide, Ms. Audrey needed us to ask the right question to address our demographic and specifically our campus, our students. The requirement was to develop distinct and fresh solutions to sample with a small group of students and report the outcome. While extensive research has been done on how to bridge this gaps, it was the expectation that our solution would be ‘Out of the box’ thinking. The big idea was increasing technology usage among our students who had a myriad of economic problems but had been presented with a 1:1 device by the district.
Collaboration was the key to getting my students engaged. Collaboration was not limited to classmates but to anyone who would help you with physics. If you want to face time, ok go right ahead as long as the work gets done. Could you ask your neighbor to video you shooting your rocket? Absolutely. As long as the learning got done. The essential question here has to be an actionable question. It is not how to calculate terminal velocity, but who can help me and why should I calculate terminal velocity before I fly my rocket.
Karla is an African American very well educated woman. Does this have a bearing on why she has grit? No. But Karla does have a child with special needs. While it’s easy to say that all parents with special need children have grit, for Karla, it is more not just for her child but for her too. She is the chief technology officer for an urban school district and has recently completed her doctoral program. So why does she have grit? She has perseverance and passion. Karla shared with me about her fight with a certain school district to get her child identified and receiving the resources she needed to help her be successful in school. This fight (or misunderstanding as the district called it) lasted 4 years. During this four years, there were changes in policy, personnel and state requirements. Karla stayed abreast with everything, even as she changed jobs, got a divorce and her daughter changed schools. Now as the CFO, she does not see any challenge that is unsurmountable. She fought for students to get 1:1 devices and to students in economically challenged homes to pay a minimum fee in order to the students to develop ownership, while the other leaders wanted the students to receive the devices for free. She also implemented a program where if a device is not returned by the end of the school year, she reports it stolen, which has had a 95% success rate. As Angela Duckworth says, perseverance and passion are not necessarily measurable but they are definitely visible.
Start with Why: Rogers
Simon Sinek in his book “Start with Why” explains that if you want to inspire others, always communicate your why first, that excited employees are the best resource for any business, and finally you don’t need sleazy sales tactics when you start with why. Apple is widely used as an example of a company that starts with why. As a director of architecture in an investment firm, Rogers has found out that people do things out of tradition and culture. They have been doing certain things for a long time in a certain way that they don’t question, if there is a better way to do it. There are two types of why: 1) the why to get historical knowledge, to understand the processes and perhaps (more often than not) improve the existing processes, and 2) the why to sell a new product. To convince the end user of the reason why they need the new product (without comparing the new process to the old process). To package the new product as its own.
Rogers not only asks these whys but causes you to think deeper and cause ripples in your commitment to your career and your organization. Because with the why, you can connect with the customers. If you core values do not line up with your organization’s values, then you will always be at odds with the organization. For teachers, we know that there is a disconnect between the technology training they are receiving and the impact they are having in class. The why here should not be why they are no implementing technology in the classroom, or why they should. The why here should be why technology is useful in impacting this students’ life after my class. For every teacher, their core value is to impact students’ life for the better.
The Originals: Rose
I consider myself an original thinker. Granted that there is nothing new under the sun, there are always ways of reusing existing ideas. In my organization, I am a trail blazer. I am not afraid to say that I don’t know it all and I am not the keeper of knowledge. Google is. I have many ways of doing the same thing. For example, in encouraging students to use technology, if I give them an assignment, the modes of presentation range from face time to advertisements, homemade experiments, interviews, global collaboration, video presentations. The more authentic the idea the better. I consider all ideas viable. Most importantly, I don’t generate these ideas by myself, I engage my students in this generation. They take charge of their learning. For teachers, encouraging them to let go without repercussion of failed exams is a big deal to them.
In summary, according to Dan Pink in Drive, to motivate employees to work beyond basic tasks, give them: 1) Autonomy – our desire to be self-directed. It increases engagement over compliance, 2) Mastery — The urge to get better skills, and 3) Purpose — The desire to do something that has meaning and is important. This creates ownership and satisfaction. In implementing this program, I have tried to leave the lines of communication open and I have encouraged the teachers to rise up and try. To do their best and not to be afraid to find something that works better for them than Its Learning.
Although the data shows that we are still far from reaching our goals in terms of technology, at least we are walking and not stagnating. The next round of interventions in the 2017-2018 school year will be to ask teachers to buddy up with each other and help each other. It will not be mandated, just encouraged with a shared vision.
More Technology in Education Content
- Integration of Technology in Higher Education
- Technology in the Early Years Foundation Stage
- Preparing Students for Economic and Social Contexts with Digital Technology
- ICT for Special Educational Needs Support
- Cloud Computing for Higher Education
- Alden, Sally Bowman. “Effective Programs for Training Teachers on the Use of Technology.” Technology Teacher Training Programs (2003). Web. 5 Feb. 2007. <http://www.computerlearning.org/articles/Training.htm>
- Gulek, J. C., & Demirtas, H. (2005). Learning with technology: The impact of laptop use on student achievement. The Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 3(2), 5-38
- Heinich, R., Molenda, M., Russell, J., & Smaldino, S. (2001). Instructional media and technologies for learning (7th ed). Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.
- Hunter, M. (1982). Mastery teaching. El Segundo, CA: TIP Publications
- Its learning Inc. http://www.itslearning.eu/about-us
- Lightspeed systems, 2013 https://mybigcampus.com/
- The 12 Key Benefits of Learning Platforms: How learning platforms support the principles of teaching and learning. Its Learning Inc. 2011 http://info.itslearning.net/rs/itslearning/images/12%20Reasons.pdf
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