We had a great time at the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) conference in San Diego June 24-27 hosting two panels on digital citizenship in the classroom. We also learned a lot from the 30+ simultaneous sessions and the countless exhibitions, and hopefully the participants at our panel learned something new as well.
If there was one thing that surprised me the most in co-hosting the panel, it was the centrality of technology in the Common Core standards. Technology is mentioned in 78 standards. Yet there is no funding dedicated to purchasing digital tools. Schools need to dig into their own pockets to fund these purchases. More importantly, even if they do find the funds, they have no idea how to use the technology.
Representatives from the state of Delaware told us that the entire state uses online common core assessments, but the shift to online assessments has led to testing that lasts months across grade levels—hardly a convenience upgrade. Similarly, technology is being introduced at a rapid pace in other districts, but curriculum designers are unsure how or when to leverage the technology. It’s a confusing spot at the moment for many.
In talking to educators, they frequently recommended scheduling weekly or biweekly meetings between the technology staff and the curriculum developers to better integrate technology. Seems like a great idea. They also frequently recommended mandatory training and professional development in using technology in the classroom. And, the training should be hands-on. Teachers frequently asked that the workshop leaders use the new technologies when showing how to implement them in the classroom. It was surprising how many educators admitted to using old tech to talk about the new tech.
From the Exhibit Hall to the concurrent sessions, 1:1 initiatives (one laptop for every teacher and every student) were on the mind of educators and vendors. A number of sessions addressed roll-out challenges with curriculum, programs, and hardware. Many of the educators I met were just beginning to consider 1:1, but many did not have 24/7 access to technology. Most were based only at school through shared carts.
The Exhibit Hall responded with Chrome books, tablets, netbooks, and a ton of classroom interactives. Textbooks were nowhere to be seen, though textbook companies like McGraw Hill, Houghton Mifflin, and Pearson had huge booths—all showcasing apps and online texts.
Even schools that cannot afford hardware for all their students are rolling out 1:1. BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) has garnered significant attention, even with schools battling against the ACLU for not being able to ensure every child has technology to use. Schools see this revolution much like our teachers did with TI 82 calculators in my high school. It will be interesting to see where 1:1 goes from here. Will schools provide all the tools, or will families be expected to provide the hardware?
ISTE is always a valuable experience. For those of us working in the trenches to educate kids, parents, and teachers about how to use digital media effectively, safely, and smartly, it was a great opportunity to engage with the real-world issues that educators face daily when implementing digital media.
Stayed tuned to this blog for more. In the coming months, we'll be discussing digital citizenship in BYOD or 1:1 programs, as well as curriculum and technology program staffing. Have a great holiday.