Tuesday, November 18, 2008

eSchool News Article - "10 Ways to Boost Learning with Technology"

This article by Meris Stansbury, Assistant Editor of eSchool News, is must reading for teachers, technology leaders, and communities who are serious about student learning for the 21st century. Saw this in an email (you can sign-up for email updates on eSchool News) and immediately was hooked. Being an elementary teacher and instructional technologist, I appreciate the list of specific tasks. Some of these tasks we have control over and we should spread the word to all who will listen. Being engaged in this conversation is vital to our students success in this changing world. If we can't adapt to changes in our instruction, how are we going to teach students to adapt to their ever changing world?

Thankfully we are well on our way to pursuing these steps in our county schools. We have good access to computers and internet sources in our schools. Teachers have ample staff development opportunities, we use home-school coordinators in schools and use email, websites, online services, and others for communication with students and parents. Our school system is on it's way with online staff development and is receptive to outside sources for staff development. They are open to new ideas and we find we are only hampered by web filters, at times, and that is adjustable. As teachers of students under 18, we must protect while instructing, so web-filtering is not only the law, but necessary. Our school has been using interactive videoconferencing for the past six years and we have found student engagement high during these conferences. This type of hands-on learning appeals to many different types of learners and is quite successful in retention of information. Our state museums send us boxes of artifacts and items our students use for the programs and we return the artifacts and items after the program's conclusion. I could go on and on about this as I feel it offers another very interesting way to engage students in learning, but that is not the topic here. So...

These 10 steps come from SETDA (State Educational Technology Directors Association). This is a plan called, "Class of 2020: Action Plan for Education" which includes white papers, a Student Bill of Rights, and these 10 recommendations. You should read the entire article (just a little over 3 pages).

The 10 steps are:
"1. Ensure that technology tools & resources are used continuously & seamlessly for instruction, collaboration, & assessment.
2. Expose all students (preK - 12th grade) to STEM fields & careers.
3. Make ongoing, sustainable professional development available to all teachers.
4. Use virtual learning opportunities for teachers to further their professional development, such as through online communities & educational portals.
5. Incorporate innovative, consistent, & timely assessments into daily instruction.
6. Strengthen the home-school connection by using technology to communicate with parents on student progress.
7. Provide the necessary resources so that every community has the infrastructure to support learning with technology, including assessments & virtual learning.
8. Obtain societal support for education that uses technology from all stakeholders--students, parents, teachers, state & district administrators, business leaders, legislators, & local community members.
9. Provide federal leadership to support states & districts regarding technology's role in school reform by passing the ATTAIN Act.
10. Increase available funding for the e-Rate so that schools can acquire telecommunication services, internet access, internal connections, & maintenance of those connections."

I admit that I familiar with the ATTAIN Act, so my next step is to find out more about it.