It was not until I began to look over the course materials that I realized how much of the course was to be based on technology integration. Thus, I was pleasantly surprised because I am technology savvy and a leader in my school regarding the integration of technology into the classroom. Even though I did not envision this course correctly, I changed the goals I had for this course very quickly. And, analyzing my goals versus what I have been able to achieve, I would say that I have been able to achieve my goals. The assigned articles and required responses were incredibly helpful for increasing my knowledge of the principal/leadership aspect of technology integration. In addition, my fellow students had great quotes and responses and allowed me to truly scrutinize my own thoughts. I am extremely pleased with this course and wish that other administration graduate programs would incorporate this. It is essential for principals to have knowledge in these new technologies and how they can be integrated and other issues relating to technology in the classroom.
As the technology liaison of my school I continually utilize the information provided in this course. While I am fortunate enough to have already come across and addressed some of the issues discussed in this course, I was happy to see that there were issues that I had not researched fully and this class afforded me the opportunity to really evaluate those issues. For instance, I have looked over the STaR Chart results for my campus for the last few years; I have not compared these results with the average results from the state. Additionally, I have been able to use some of the arguments from the articles about filtering systems, to present to district technology personnel and I tried to show them that the filters in our new laptop initiative are a bit overzealous. So, I am hoping that these articles, along with other articles and arguments made by others will help my district see that our laptop initiative could be much more productive with a few changes.
However, one goal that I was not able to achieve concerns blogging. I used to have a blog that I used with my students, but this year I have been busy and did not find the time to incorporate a blog. So, one of my goals was to instigate a blog with my students for this year and when I realized what this class entailed, I thought I could start a blog with my class. Well, that goal was not achieved, mostly due to time constraints. But I am still hopeful that I will get the blog started soon. I plan to use the winter break to give me the time I need to begin a blog for my students. Then, once school starts back up in January, I can start off with the blog and get my students to utilize this tool as often as possible. Also, I have not utilized Podcasting as much as I would like, so I plan to record several of my lectures and post these to my website for students.
I was able to carry out the course assignments and I feel as though I turned in high-quality work. I was discouraged by the amount of work, especially in the beginning. However, the work was not too complicated and I already understood most of the concepts and had even read some of the articles prior to the class for my jog as technology liaison. But, I am not sure how some of my fellow students accomplished some of the assignments on time because many of them mentioned their lack of technology savvy. Also, this timing of this course, with all of the holidays (Thanksgiving and the end of the first semester – for both this class and our jobs) made this seemingly more difficult than it could have been otherwise. However, the need for this course far outweighs any of the difficulties. And, really, the work was not as difficult as I first thought.
I learned more about my “accent” as a technology immigrant, such as my preference to read articles after I have printed them, as opposed to reading them online. Also, I was able to more thoroughly analyze the technology perceptions through the STaR chart. And, I was able to learn more about what it takes to gather a team of technology immigrant and technology natives to implement curricula. Moreover, I have a better understanding of the online dangers and safety issues and how to combat these dangers. Furthermore, I enjoyed reading about newer technologies and how they might be implemented in the classroom, such as the cell phone and personal data tools. Finally, my attitude towards teachers who refuse to utilize technology in their classrooms has tempered somewhat. I now am better able to understand their attitudes and how to work with these teachers to encourage them to use technology more and effectively, in the future.
Various technologies are continuing to be integrated into our classrooms and blogging is a colossal role in this integration and this role is growing. Blogging is an outstanding tool for communication in a plethora of ways, with students, amongst students, with parents, with colleagues, etc. Blogging is a type of communication that students are used to with Facebook and texting. This is just a way to bring education to the level of the students and putting their curricula within their comfort zone. Although there are security issues and issues with students using the blogs appropriately for the classroom and using the correctly language (not texting language), these can be life lessons on how and when it is correct to speak and write in certain ways. Another benefit of blogging communication is the ability to keep the parents updated on the students’ progress or slacking. Now, we have a tool that can be accessed 24/7 (as long as they have internet access) and parents can keep up with their children and their grades without having to wait for the report card or progress report.
I alluded to some of the issues with blogs above, and the biggest concern is security. When my school first tried to implement Wikispaces, there were a few teachers who thought that students would be able to see anything on any Wikispace site. This is not the case however, and we were able to show the teachers that the filtering system was still in place and many of the Wikis were controlled (meaning there is a moderator [i.e. a teacher] which monitors posts) so students are less likely to be exposed to inappropriate material. Additionally, we put together a contract for students to sign that reinforced the district’s A.U.P. and made it clear that students were only allowed to go to the Wikis that their teachers requested. The other major issue is students’ lackadaisical attitude toward writing appropriately on blogs. Many students think that texting language is appropriate, when it is not. Thus, teachers must be aware of this issue and speak with his/her students prior to blogging. There are many other issues, but we must deal with them as they come in an appropriate manner in order to be able to continue to use this great tool.
I have already begun using blogs to communicate with stakeholders. I began a blog for my student groups, the Principal’s Student Leadership Council and the Junior Gals. In addition, the media specialist and I set up a blog for a Reading Club at my school. Also, I have a blog set up on my staff website that I pass on to all of my students and as many of the parents as I can contact. I am involved in the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Support (PBIS) group for my school and I have created a blog for us to use instead of having to meet so often. Finally, I have set up blogs in the past for my students to utilize, these blog discussions are mandatory, but I will allow my students time in class (and they can use their laptops) to participate or they can chose to do this at home, but I make sure that I moderate all posts before they show so there are no issues with any inappropriate materials. I see all of this increasing in the future and I cannot wait to get started on utilizing more technologies.