Lessons Learned From the Field

Looking at the global research and information out there about technology innovations has been a very eye-opening experience for me. It is very easy to find ourselves in the bubble of our school or our district and become unaware of what is going on around the world with technology and education. Examining what has worked, not worked, and lessons learned with various initiatives around the globe has really solidified my thinking on what I need to be looking at in terms of Appy Hour.

I want to start by looking at the 2015 Horizon Report. Although it is not laid out in a way that it is easy to see what works, doesn’t work, and lessons learned, I was able to extract a few ideas from it. Finland stands out in my mind as a system that is working in terms of technology and education. They are looking at assessment more in terms of creativity and less in terms of grades and standardized assessments. They are also looking at rethinking what a school day looks like, with instruction carrying over throughout the day, instead of the bell to bell system we are used to here. There is a rise in STEAM learning that will only benefit out students as critical thinkers. Ideas of what could be done better include better copyright policies for teacher and student work, having preservice teacher education include more digital training, and rethinking the roles of teachers in the classroom. The lessons that I have learned from reading what is going on in the Horizon report is that the way it has always been doesn’t mean that it is the way it should always be. We need new strategies in authentic learning which includes models and training strategies for teachers. I also see a trend in professional development that shows it is becoming more of teacher’s responsibility to go out and seek what they need for their individual classrooms.

The eSkwela project, based in the Phillipines, was an interesting case study in implementing and using Information and Communications Technology (ICT) in an area plagued by lack of access to educational opportunities by both out of school youth, and adults who did not complete schooling. What I saw as working in this project was the teachers saw ICT as a tool for education. It was seen as a way to make “learning (as well as teaching) a lot more interactive, flexible, and fun with the use of ICT” (p.18). It was also a successful project in that it addressed some of the problems in access and equality in education to the different regions. The project had the usual growing pains associated with infrastructure and training programs. They also had some issues with dealing with external parties and the changing political atmosphere of the different regions. The lessons I learned from this study are that a program such as this needs community support to be successful and that good training programs must exist for the teachers to use it.

The ICT Handbook (parts 1, 2, and 3) had many great ideas and things that worked. The successful idea of this handbook to me was the idea of how learning could be for all people, anywhere and anytime. Using ICT could address such problems as rural schools not having access to good teachers, multigrade schools using their teachers the most effectively, and using the dual shift idea to have children do some of their learning independently throughout the day. There was much discussion of enhancing the quality of teaching through the use of ICT and many examples of case studies throughout the world where technology was used to reach people who may have been forgotten otherwise. The problems, as with most ideas in ICT around the world, were lack of teacher training, bad infrastructure, and the issues of out of school and illiterate children. The lesson I learned from the three sections of the ICT Handbook are that technology is only a tool. It cannot fix bad policy or bad leadership. And, if teachers are not convinced of its usefulness and trained properly, it will not be used.

The IPad “debacle” in the LA Unified School District is a great tool for looking at what can work, what might not, and to learn some lessons from it. What worked in LAUSD is not much. There was a lack of vision put forth from the beginning which caused the whole idea to implode. What did not work was the school district getting “caught up in the ed tech frenzy without fully thinking through why technology is important in the first place” (Lapowsky, 2015). The school district failed to implement a large scale deployment and failed to follow Apple’s guidelines for deployment. The lessons learned from these two articles are that without vision, no matter how cool or big an idea is, it will not be successful.

When reading the ICT Innovative Schools article, I was struck by how much ICT can work in the school system if used in support of teaching and learning and how more student centered learning occurs when ICT is leveraged correctly. ICT can be a change agent, but only for those who are excited about using it. Teachers who were not convinced of its usefulness were able to avoid using it. As in most technology initiatives, connectivity, access, and gender equality were issues in this article. Also, home access could be a stumbling block to ICT success. I learned that if ICT adoption does not center on the teacher and professional development, it will not work. The teacher’s pedagogy and beliefs must be addressed for a successful ICT implementation to occur.

The Mobile Learning articles in the different regions of the world were probably the most eye opening to me. I did not realize the scope of initiatives that is occurring globally, even in countries that are in their infancy of mobile learning development. Throughout all the articles, I could see that things that worked in initiatives were when the teachers believed in the technology and how it could change learning. Also, parent and social belief was important. Some of the biggest problems globally are the lack of access to high speed cellular networks and to phones that have the capability to run the more sophisticated apps and programs.

While the US and Canada have a pretty good cellular system and access to mobile technology, our biggest obstacle is the professional development of teachers to using these technologies in the classroom and the widespread belief that phones are a distraction and shouldn’t be used in school.

In Africa and the Middle East, the programs using mobile technology are predominantly small scale and funded by private corporations or donor agencies. Most of their experimentation into using mobile technologies is focusing on the health and human services sectors.

In Asia, while phones are very common, the cost of the level of phone to use in education and the carrier costs are quite expensive. Also, the rural sections of Asia do not have access to as many services. Parent perception of phone usage is also a major obstacle in Asia, as parents are concerned about social media use.

In Latin America, initiatives are still in the early stages of development. Many initiatives in mobile learning in Latin America right now focus on administrators and the management of educational information. Broadband access in the region is still limited, and it is still very expensive for most of the population. Literacy rates in the region are also a barrier to mobile technology use.

In Europe, there are multiple projects related to mobile technologies. They are still struggling, as with Asia and North America, with teacher and social attitudes about mobile technology in education. They fear that social isolation can occur with too much mobile interaction. Europe, much like North America, has embraced somewhat many initiatives to expand mobile learning in the educational settings, especially in the UK, Denmark, and the Netherlands. Europe seems to be the most advanced in addressing using mobile technology in their policy.

When looking at all the different mobile learning initiatives around the globe, some lessons seemed to repeat over and over again. It is obvious that the social stigma of mobile technology as a distraction has to be addressed globally before it will be an accepted tool in education. Also, teacher professional development has to be addressed, both in their attitudes towards mobile technology and their pedagogy. Teachers need to see how useful and how relevant using this technology can be to their students and how it can be helpful to the student’s entry into the workforce. In many areas, the infrastructure has to be updated and faster mobile technology needs to be available at affordable prices to make the best use of what it can do for students.

Most of the articles and research that I sought out on my own have to do with professional development and technology because my innovative idea is Appy Hour, which is a professional development innovation. Many of the assigned readings also addressed professional development marginally, but finding articles specifically about professional development around the globe opened up a whole new way of thinking in terms of my innovation project.

The article about teacher training and technology contained an overview of some case studies and lessons learned. These studies were conducted in Armenia, Brazil, China, Guinea, Singapore, and South Africa. What worked in these case studies was that they all used professional development to train teachers how to use technology in the classroom. The way that they choose to do it was very different. In Armenia, I learned that web based training can be an effective tool for teachers and it can be a lower cost option to face to face trainings. China used television as their delivery method for training of their teachers. The teachers had to pass exams to receive credit for their trainings. Singapore has been focusing on IT training in their teacher education programs along with in-service training. Their systematic approach is what made them successful. I can imagine without a clear vision, none of these projects would have been as successful as they were.

The article about the ICT training courses in Jordan showed that having training courses for teachers in ICT related knowledge and skills improved their perceptions of its use in education. It is important to consider timing and how we train teachers, follow up, school culture, teacher’s beliefs, the workload of the teachers, and their motivation when considering training them in ICT (Abuhmaid, 2011). There was some overload noted in the study for both teachers and mentors. But I like the fact that there were mentors for the teachers to touch base with and I took away the importance of having mentors in professional development in technology.

The models and best practices article was a compelling resource for me in terms of technology professional development. I especially liked how they stressed that all “staff” should be involved in the implementation, including principals. “Teachers and school leadership are the main agents of change at the school level” (Hooker, n.d.). The things that worked in this study is laying out the pros and cons for each type of professional development and giving ideas for how to implement many different ways. It was sort of an overload of information though. I learned, again, that mentors and working together as teams seems to be the most effective way to deliver staff development in technology. In the appendix, there is a list of models of professional development and when it is most appropriate to use them. I will find this very helpful when looking at revisions to my Appy Hour plan next week.

The SAGE open article on teacher’s perception of technology use in schools was a validating article for me in terms of my Appy Hour idea. I was not surprised to read that “more than half of teachers equipped with computers only use them for administrative functions, and only half of their students report using technology more than once a week (Mundy, Kupczynski, and Lee, 2012). I think learning about some of the strategies of the Teach Up program can be useful when looking at professional development in technology. The study confirms my suspicions that teachers need to know how to use technology at a basic level in addition to how to use it in their classrooms. There is much talk about mentoring in this case study, using digital natives as interns to support teachers throughout the year. What I learned from this case study is the use of digital natives as a “mentor” could be a key idea to improving my idea of Appy Hour.

And finally the CITEd research article on learning from case studies in technology integration was a nice way to round out my research about professional development. I liked how this article took several case studies and came up with four main challenges about professional development in technology. These include adequate time, scheduling or access to computers, adequate equipment, and timely professional development. The idea that works in this article is that without access to the website that published the individual case studies, I could not have learned about their results without this article. It really made sense to me how they took the individual studies and found four emerging themes throughout. The lessons I learned from this research is that I have the right idea going in terms of my Appy Hour, I just might need to adjust some of my approach to better serve the faculty.

 

Abuhmaid, A. (n.d.). ICT Training Courses for Teacher Professional Development in Jordan. Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://www.tojet.net/articles/v10i4/10420.pdf

Capper, J. (2000, November/December). Teacher Training and Technology: An Overview of Case Studies and Lessons Learned. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.techknowlogia.org/TKL_active_pages2/CurrentArticles/main.asp?FileType=PDF

Chambers, B. (2014, August 28). L.A. cancels iPads-in-the-schools program: A failure of vision, not technology. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.macworld.com/article/2599988/lausd-ipad-cancellation-is-a-failure-of-vision-not-technology.html

Hooker, M. (n.d.). Models and Best Practices in Teacher Professional Development. Retrieved May 1, 2016, from https://www.infodev.org/infodev-files/resource/InfodevDocuments_294.pdf

Horizon Report 2015 K-12 Edition. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition/

ICTs for Education: A Reference Handbook. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.ictinedtoolkit.org/usere/p_page.php?section_number=0

Lapowsky, I. (2015, May 18). What Schools Must Learn From LA’s iPad Debacle. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2015/05/los-angeles-edtech/

Learning from Case Studies of Technology Integration. (n.d.). Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.cited.org/index.aspx?page_id=101

Mundy, M., Kupczynski, L., & Kee, R. (2012, March 13). Teacher Perceptions of Technology Use in the Schools. Retrieved from http://sgo.sagepub.com/content/early/2012/03/05/2158244012440813

Turning on Mobile Learning Global Themes. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002164/216451E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Africa and the Middle East. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002163/216359E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Asia. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002162/216283E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Europe. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002162/216283E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in Latin America. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216080E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in N. America. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216083E.pdf

Turning on Mobile Learning in N. America. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0021/002160/216083E.pdf

Venezky, R. (n.d.). ICT in Innovative Schools: Case Studies of Change and Impact. Retrieved May 01, 2016, from http://www.oecd.org/site/schoolingfortomorrowknowledgebase/themes/ict/41187025.pdf

ESkwela: Community-based E-learning – UNESDOC Database. (n.d.). Retrieved May 1, 2016, from http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001833/183307e.pdf

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in EDLD 5314 - Digital Learning in a Global Context

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