Looking forward to ICE: Some knows about evaluating technology use for learning

Later this week, I will be attending a session at the ICE Conference entitled “Effective Evaluation of Technology Use in the Classroom”.  This is a topic that has been in the back of my head for a while, because I have yet to see good instruments developed around the NETS-T Standards that can help my growth as a learning facilitator.  ISTE has provided the framework, but I am surprised that (as a technology integration specialist or technology coordinator hopeful) there has been little progress toward bringing these standards into more building-wide efforts or teacher evaluation systems.  Such tools would be helpful for my own personal reflective practice as well as others who I hope to someday train and coach.

There is also little guidance as to how technology coordinators can build program evaluation measures before the technology arrives at the building.  Based on conversations I have with teachers in my region, there still remains this culture of “Buy first; train later…if ever.”  But how does that kind of end-in-mind planning translate to technology leadership and program/deployment evaluation?

In some quick searches around for rubrics or scales that would help me develop a personal growth model, I have found one consortium that made an initial attempt.  However, there is little formalization of this process for teachers at state or regional levels, which I believe is a big leadership oversight as many state Race to the Top efforts have forced teacher evaluation revisions.

As a PBL facilitator, I thought I would list out some of my “Knows” before venturing into this learning experience…

  • At the building level, technology coordinators can look at the effective use of productivity tools by the overall organization.  (Who uses the full Microsoft Office suite?  Who knows how to make the networked printers do more work independently so you do less standing around and waiting?)  Oftentimes, this can be achieved through surveys or application logs.  But this does not measure the effective use of these technologies in staff-members’ professional lives, nor does it demonstrate what students are learning more effectively or more deeply.
  • I have seen personally that in the classroom, engagement and connectivity are concepts that are unique to lessons that blend technology into them.  But, these are conceptual ideas, not clear indicators for modeling or eventual evaluation.
  • Certainly, localized definitions would take much more effort from building/district technology leaders, unions, teachers or other stakeholders.  Such efforts could target specific purchases, too, and get teachers geared up for their own growth in the classroom than some of the more cumbersome concepts presented in the NETS.

So, as I move through the learning, I will hopefully deepen these immediate thoughts…oh, and I also better tie up the loose ends for my own presentation.

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