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Our vision for Ohio Valley Schools is to acquire 100% technological literacy within the next five years. Currently, the new hires have some knowledge of technology and its use within the classroom but they do not seem to be motivated to use what skills they have brought to the district. We envision a school district which incorporates technology using best practices to engage all of our students in the activity of learning. Our proficiency scores in all areas of the curriculum need to be vastly improved within a five-year time frame, and having 100% technological literacy within our district will help to accomplish this goal. All classrooms should have access to the Internet, and access to computer repair and maintenance personnel such that engaged learning activities can be reasonably expected to have the technology available and working when the activity begins. All school buildings should be wired for distance learning interactive video such that course offerings can be expanded within our district schools. A policy should be in place as soon as possible that requires all students and their parent or guardian to sign an acceptable use policy before they begin their first day in any classroom. Our future should be one of interdisciplinary, authentic learning projects within school buildings and within the district as well as the utilization of outside resources through technology.
Our current situation regarding technology availability and technological literacy is a piecemeal affair. Initiatives and training sessions are offered from time to time when grant monies become available, but the process is not continuous or reinforced. As an example, last year five teachers from every high school in our school district were offered six two-hour training sessions in distance learning interactive video technology after the regular school day. The sessions were poorly presented. Many times the presenter was late to class so he took the liberty of keeping us after the regular ending time for class. Each teacher only had hands-on experience with the distance learning video equipment for about an hour out of those 12 hours of training. After this training was offered, the five teachers from each high school went back to their schools where no distance learning interactive video courses were offered or even planned for the entire year. Finally, one Calculus course was offered for one trimester but that was the extent of the use of this expensive technology. Presently our interactive video equipment lies dormant in a locked room near the school cafeteria. Our district's present policy is that teaching a course through the method of interactive video carries no stipend for the instructor who teaches that course, but only the curse of additional preparation time because of a teacher's willingness to teach using the new format. In other words, there are disincentives in place for the achievement of technological literacy where there ought to be incentives of some kind or another. Many of the high school principals consider distance learning interactive video to be a threat to the stability of their teaching staff. Other administrators view it as an irritation with little educational return. Another major problem is the lack of even the most elementary training for teachers in our district on the use of e-mail and the Internet. The pressure is there to use these resources, and yet there is not training for these teachers to learn. Most of the staff development is centered in the primary and elementary levels, with little or no training available for the high school staff. Add to this the lack of any support staff or maintenance availability and you have a development plan or lack of one that is certain to bring failure to our future educational efforts.
The difficulty in obtaining administrative support for a staff development plan dealing with technological literacy is that there seems to be no interest on the part of anyone in administration to provide professional trainers for staff development activities. Even our Regional Professional Development Center offers professional development courses in technology only for the lower grades. In addition, the courses offer small stipends and CEUs as incentives for taking the training. This does nothing to attract the experienced teacher who does not need the small stipend as a replacement for his or her summer vacation or CEUs for certification upgrade. We are concerned that this trend seems to be continuing, with no planning to provide technology training to either high school level or to older and more experienced teachers in the district. We propose to create a questionnaire to be submitted to the Technology Coordinator for prior approval that would allow us to determine just how many teachers need training and development activities in the area of technology literacy and what kinds of activities they want to have offered. Once the questionnaires are returned, we can target our needs more effectively and thereby vastly accelerate our move into the engaged learning with technology format. Until the more experienced teachers as well as the high school teachers are offered meaningful professional development activities in the area of technology, we will fail as a school district to offer the best educational experience possible to our students. We have local support at our vocational school from the Principal and the Director, but the funds for training are not controlled at the local level.
In our district, the teachers' salaries are the lowest in the State of Ohio. A stipend, however small, is an incentive to obtain training if the classes are held at the local site, the duration of the training session does not last more than one hour after the last class is dismissed, and the session provides one-on-one or small group training specific to the needs of those teachers in attendance at the session. What we need is approximately $15.00 per teacher in attendance at these technology training sessions, along with some sort of recognition program which is meaningful and respectful. Both the money and the recognition are matters of respect. A recognition program which is composed of a laser printed certificate and a touch of gold foil is not the motivator one would like to believe that it is for experienced teachers. Most of us have closets full of these "In Grateful Appreciation" certificates. Perhaps they should be called "In Lieu of any Money" certificates. When teachers are treated with the same amount of respect as an average citizen, they will put forth great effort in the pursuit of improving their skills in providing education to their students. We do not think it prohibitive to provide $15.00 per workshop participant at the local site while throwing in a free cold soft drink to enjoy during the session. As for the recognition program, perhaps a "Teacher of the Future" monthly radio recognition for a teacher that increases their technology and engaged learning skills could be a respectful motivator. As to the issue of maintenance, we will need to consider the cost/benefit ratio of buying new equipment as compared to the cost of repairing the old equipment. Regardless, equipment which is unreliable and unserviceable will tend not to be used by the classroom teacher who is already struggling with multiple responsibilities and a lack of time to be spent on something that can not be relied upon. Our generalized response to equipment malfunctioning is just not to report it anymore. There is not going to be any one around to repair it anyway, so why waste the time it takes to write out the repair request? We need to change that perception by addressing the lack of a maintenance person for our technology equipment.
Outline of Sub-goals and Activities and Timeline:
(1) August 27 and 28, 1998--District-wide Teachers Meeting
At this meeting, our approved technology literacy training questionnaire would be introduced by our Technology Coordinator. The questionnaire would be picked up by the coordinator, responses tallied, and the areas of most immediate concern would be prioritized so that plans could be made to address those areas in the very first part of the school year.
(2) September 15, 1998--Posting of the first series of Technology
Literacy Training Sessions
Included in these postings to every teacher in the district would be an explanation of the
incentive program of which we spoke earlier, including the $15.00 stipend, the free soft
drinks after school and the recognition program for those taking the training.
(3) September 23, 1998--First Technology Literacy Training
The very first training session should start on time, and address only those issues that the participants want addressed regarding technology literacy. The offerings should be in very small groups that would hopefully form a cadre of technologically literate people that support each other in their efforts to improve their use of technology in the classroom. Make the meeting extremely user friendly, so that there will assuredly be a second training session and a third, etc. We believe that LInC has improved our technological literacy to the point that we could serve as facilitators for this session. It would also be good if we could secure e-mail accounts through the system for anyone who wanted them before the second session was offered.
(4) October 14, 1998--Second Technology Literacy Training
The second training session should be within two to three weeks of the initial offering, so
as to maintain continuity and familiarity with the things learned at the first session. Again, marketing of these sessions must be reiterated at least a week in advance, along with having the announcement made over the intercom a couple of times before the day of the meeting. Facilitators from the first meeting should make personal contact with as many of the first time attendees as possible. Again, listen to the questions that the attendees want answered instead of providing them with a canned performance. I think the idea here is to model in a small way the engaged learning concept.
(5) October 21, 1998--Informal Offering of a Small Collaborative
Engaged Learning Event
This would not be advertised as the first two sessions were, but would merely be a subtle, elementary and comfortable collaboration between two or more instructors that wanted to try an engaged learning project on a small scale before venturing out onto the Informational SuperHighway and getting mashed into the macadam. Design the activity so that it cannot fail, and then advertise its success wherever applicable. People will avoid pain, so don't make them hurt if you want this to succeed.
(6) November 18, 1998--Third Technology Literacy Training
A third session just like the last two, with the attendees determining the agenda and the pace. By this time, the fear should be gone and there should be a fair amount of confidence built up through using the tip sheet sent by LInC on dealing with adults and technology.
(7) By this time, there should be a beginning cadre of literate technology users within the engaged learning format at each school site. If things have been approached as they were modeled by our LInC facilitators, the seed should have begun to take root. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas. Back off!
(8) When school resumes again after the holiday season, make certain to make contact with each cadre of new literates at each school site to continue the process and the support. This might be a good time to take inventory of the software and hardware maintenance issues that the newbies feel are important to address. Tally the scores and offer them up to the District Technology Coordinator as food for thought toward changing the pitiful state proficiency scores that we still suffer from in this school district. All things considered and using a rather loose cost/benefit analysis, we stand to lose many more dollars because of our failure to improve our students' proficiency scores than we do by offering $15.00 stipends to teachers who want to improve their teaching effectiveness, or by paying a few thousand a year for some kind of regular technology equipment maintenance. Our teachers really don't ask for much except a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T. We are of the opinion that we could dramatically transform our district with the same amount of money needed to hire one teacher with ten years experience on the salary schedule in our district. Money is NOT the issue. Continue the training sessions as before.
A design for the evaluation of the plan must be in place before the staff development plan is ever put into action. The survey originally mentioned to be completed at the beginning of the year should have included a question as to the role technology and engaged learning played in each of the survey responders educational repertoire during the previous year. It would then be a simple matter to survey again using the same questions to gauge the difference in the response. An increase in the areas mentioned would be an indicator of some reliability that substantive change has taken place as a result of the staff development activities that were offered, targeted to the goals of the attendees, and supported through regular and consistent delivery of training in the areas of technology and engaged learning formats.
Extending the Plan:
Our plan is to reach all school buildings in our district using the same basic approach. If we achieved even a modicum of success in our staff development activities over the 1998-99 academic year, it might be time to plan a Technology Retreat at the local Shawnee State Park Lodge for a week-end of playing with a few new technology toys and for planning one giant engaged learning project to be developed for the entire district (those that want to be involved) as an exemplary exercise in engaged learning with technology methods. We would also consider simultaneously applying for funding through grants to extend this concept.
Created for the Fermilab LInC program sponsored by Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Education Office, Friends of Fermilab, United States Department of Energy, Illinois State Board of Education, and North Central Regional Technology in Education Consortium (NCRTEC) which is operated by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL).
Author(s):Randall C. Dunkin firstname.lastname@example.org Richard T. Kuhn email@example.com School: Ohio Valley Vocational School, West Union, Ohio 45693 Created: May 13, 1998 - Updated: May 21, 1998 URL: /lincon/w98/projects/bridges/staffdev.html