There have been some amazing things that have happened in my career lately. In October, 2013, I began a new path with the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) as an Instructional Design Consultant. This position required me to work with educators in K-12 and Higher Ed to design effective professional development courses in STEM+. I was able to work with people in California, Mexico, New York, and India. If you are interested in the resources you can access them on the website.
Shortly after the NMC Academy project wrapped up, I began another project with ISTE. This time I started an 18-month project as an Instructional Consultant on the Verizon Thinkfinity (VILS) project. I have the pleasure of working with three K-12 schools in Alaska, Arkansas, and New York. It’s like being the Tech Coach’s coach. Each week I locate resources related to the individual schools’ needs. We communicate via a variety of webtools (discussion boards, emails, Google Hangout, etc.). I meet with them monthly and we talk about the ups and downs of technology integration.
One topic that really struck home for me was that teachers want to integrate technology. Teachers know the content they teach. Teachers are learning how to use technology – be it websites, Chromebooks, tablets, applications, etc. The big question is “how do teachers develop lesson plans and teach with technology?” This sparked my interest even more. It also helped me focus my dissertation (which continues to be a long journey). So I started thinking about my tech coaches. We talked about helping teachers to write lesson plans that include technology. If a teacher has a lesson plan they already developed, then the tech coach can review the lesson plan and see where technology (and what technology) can be incorporated into the lesson. One of the easiest ways to include technology is to have the students create (yes, CREATE!) something to demonstrate their learning. So teachers, take a look at how you are assessing your students. Are you expecting them to write a paper or reflective paragraph? Try using a blog and the students can complete their writing component as well as comment on each other’s work and expand their thinking. Instead of having students create a pamphlet using an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper, have them create an ebook or epub using a mobile device application (I like Book Creator for iPad and Android), iAuthor, or ePub Bud (one of my favorite websites).
So to all of the Technology Coaches, Integration Specialists, and teachers who are confused by the amount of technology available and the best way to integrate it into your lessons – start small. Pick a lesson plan and explore just one tool that can be used. It takes time (after all, you can not build a skyscraper overnight).