School Environment Evaluation

In this assignment, students were required to learn about The Maturity Model Benchmarks developed in 1998 by Peter H.R. Sibley and Chip Kimball.  While the document is over 10 years old, it is relevant in that it identifies 5 major categories of the school environment (administrative, curricular, support, connectivity and innovation) and it breaks those categories down into sub categories and then into types.  When I first approached this assignment, I completed the survey sheet, but then I had to go back and adjust many of my initial assessments.  This is because as I got deeper into evaluating my school environment, I learned more about my institution; thus, the necessary changes were made to reflect my learning curve.  I now feel like I have a good foundation on which to build an informative argument as to what needs to be done at my school to increase technology use and implement strategies for training.  The following document is and evaluation of the technology environment using the Maturity Model Benchmarks of  Silver Sage High School, a pseudonym for the school I work at:

The following is the initial survey of the school environment:

Technology Use Planning Overview

Start with defining technology use planning–how would you describe it?

According to the Guidebook for Developing an Effective Technology Plan, technology planning is a process that incorporates purpose, planning, implementation and ongoing evaluation .  Although written in 1996, it scaffolds the National Education Technology Plan 2010 in that it seeks to assess the present state of technology, and it incorporates a vision and a purpose.  Like technology, technology use planning has evolved, and it must continue to evolve and be open to change while maintaining a vision that centers on producing informed citizens who are critical thinkers using current informational tools that promote global participation and lifelong learning.

How might the new National Educational Technology Plan 2010 be an effective and powerful resource for technology use planning?

Because as a society we want to educate, regardless of disabilities, all citizens to be informed, competitive, problem solvers and global participants, the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 is a necessary resource for developing school-wide, district-wide, and statewide technology plans.  In fact, every section of the NETP can be broken down and applied to a school’s individual plan because it is designed as such.  Though the NETP applies to the country on a broader scale, it outlines the process, the purpose, the implementation, and the ongoing research and development needed to achieve desired goals, and the goals for education should be universal, yet individualized, meeting the personal needs of each school.

Do you agree with See about tech use plans needing to be short, not long term?

While I understand why John See, Technology Integration Specialist at the Minnesota Department of Education, believed at the time, specifically in 1992, that a tech use plan needs to be short-term, I don’t agree that this school of thought applies today.  Obviously, the NETP is not designed as a one year plan; in fact, it incorporates future research and development, including emerging technologies and goals that stretch to 2020.  With that said, a school district plan can do the same, leaving avenues and windows open to development and redesign, and monitoring and measuring performance as needed whether it is yearly or bi-annually. Personally, I would strive to design a 5-year plan.  I think that teachers need to be involved in a plan that does not change with the wind, as they are so accustomed to putting up with. Teachers need to see that creating compelling assignments where 21st century skills are addressed is not only necessary for student achievement, but also enables all students, “…regardless of background, languages, or disabilities, to achieve. It leverages the power of technology to provide personalized learning and to enable continuous and lifelong learning” (National Center for Technology Planning 2010)

What do you think about his comment that “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology? Do you agree/disagree?

I agree with See on this school of thought because so often, teachers and administrators confuse the need for more technology with the most important aspect of technology: applying it and creating assignments that address critical thinking, complex problem solving, encourage collaboration, encourage student-centered learning, individualize learning, and incorporate multimedia.  For example, mobile technologies are accessible tools for engaging in a digital educational environment.  The goal is to educate using these real-world tools to prepare students for their future, not to put the tool first or the cart in front of the horse as my mother would say.

What experiences have you had with technology use planning and what have you seen for outcomes (both good and bad?)

When I started teaching in 1998, I was fortunate to be a part of a tech plan that involved writing grants for laptops, smart-boards, and software, training teachers, and gathering data to be use to assess learner outcomes and teacher satisfaction.  It was a great experience because almost everyone was on board.  I know that sounds idealistic, but I think at that time, teachers were really excited about how technology tools could enhance their teaching; it was an exciting time when laptops weighed a ton and smart-boards had basic functions that truly “wowed” all of us.

That was then, this is now, and in my district (I’ve been in Meridian, Idaho for 6 years now), there are mixed feelings of excitement and dread, both coupled with fear.  Teachers are overworked, underpaid, and can barely come up for air.  While many want to learn how to utilize technology tools, time restraints, stress, and an overall discontentment for state laws and district decisions have created a sea of bitterness, and I am very concerned.

For the past three days, I attended a state training for the 21st Century UDL Master teachers; our goal is to create lesson plans that incorporate Danielson’s Framework for Effective Teaching, UDL strategies and the Common Core Standards while integrating digital tools.  These plans will then be models for all teachers in the state of Idaho as a part of a new statewide technology plan:  Students Come First.  The verdict on this plan is still out, but I’m excited to be a part of something I feel is positive: 21st Century lesson design.

See, J. (2001). Developing effective technology plans. National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

US Department of Education. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology: National Education Technology Plan 2010. Washington: DC. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010