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School Evaluation Summary: Peeling Back the Layers

Everyone has an opinion–especially when it comes to technology use in schools. However, opinions rarely lead to action, and worse yet, they rarely demonstrate a true understanding of the issue at hand unless the individual has peeled back the layers and examined the “internal workings” of an issue. Most do not get to this stage though, unless required. For me, it is a different story. Fortunately, an exploration of the issue became a requirement as I had to complete a Technology Benchmark Survey and School Evaluation Summary for my Educational Technology 501 course. Talk about peeling back the layers …

Further investigation made me realize that there is more to this issue than meets the eye. Over the last two weeks I have surveyed the school’s technology maturity benchmarks using specific guidelines, as determined by Sibley and Kimball in their work, Technology Use Plan Primer. The primer includes five key filters: administrative, curricular, support, connectivity and innovations; these filters “link the technology resources to their use in every learning environment. In this way, the existing level of support for students, teachers and support staff can be determined. The premise is founded on the theory that both resource availability and behavioral changes are required to improve educational outcomes.”

I soon realized that despite the fact that the school is rich in resources (complete with two very strong filters: connectivity and curricular) it still has some major issues to contend with. A major shift in philosophy at the Division level, as well as provincial cutbacks, has left the school administration team and teachers struggling with mobile learning, Cloud connectivity and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) issues. Often change is met with either resistance or acceptance, and the school’s inhabitants reflect both reactions. The administration team and some teachers have realized that these new technologies are here to stay, and therefore action must be taken. The Division agrees but for now it seems to be taking a hands off approach, leaving the school, which has not been the case in the past, to determine how it is going to deal with these changes. Obviously, this change in philosophy has created unrest in the school.

The School Summary Evaluation explores the above in more detail but the process has made me realize that if a change is made without direction failure may be inevitable. Clearly, awareness is not enough. A plan is needed, and this is exactly where the school is at. In the past the Division determined the technology use plan and the direction the school would take. Now that strings have been loosened it appears that the school may have to control its own destiny from this point onward. It would not surprise me if the school does develop its own technology use plan. All indicators point this way. Time will tell, and by peeling back the layers and taking a closer look, it makes this seem more likely.

Both the School Evaluation Summary and Technology Maturity Benchmark Survey are provided here:

This Technology Maturity Benchmark Survey, a data collection sheet, was an invaluable tool as it supported the development of the School Evaluation Summary posted above. For a closer look, please click this link: http://bit.ly/XGrAmF

The Next Step

My principal has already asked me to look into how we can make mobile learning and  iPads work for students despite the Division’s concerns (tracking, multiple use, administrative control over downloads). Because I am considered a technology integration specialist, she believes that I am the best candidate for this project. The next step is to share this summary with her so we can move forward. No doubt this means that I will become part of the team that develops a school technology use plan.

Reference

Sibley, Peter H.R., & Kimball, Chip. (n.d) Technology Use Plan Primer. Retrieved from http://www.uni.edu/zeitz/tc/assignments/MaturityModelBenchmarks2.5.pdf

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