- Improving my knowledge of curriculum and best practices;
- Maintaining my knowledge of technology integration best practice;
- Improving my knowledge of effective coaching, presentation, and training;
- If I was truly interested in become a technology coordinator, or any sort of administrator (which I’m not, but I understand that is the goal of this course), I would want to learn more about public school budget and finance issues, since this is a weak area for me, and I notice this is an area where a lot of education administrators are also lacking skills and knowledge.
The first three skills are important for a technology coordinator and critical for a technology integration specialist or technology coach, the positions that I do aspire to.
My plan has four parts:
- Online Network
- Formal Coursework for University Credit
- District and regional trainings
My online network, which I’ve used for this class, is a critical part of my learning process and has and will under-gird my efforts going forward. How will I use them effectively? I will use my blog, Google Reader to keep up with other blogs, Twitter, and Facebook — as I have during this class, to reflect on what I’m doing and learning. They provide positive reinforcement for my efforts, but also can be a “critical friend” when I’m off-base. In addition, they often provide added value by sharing their experience, knowledge, and resources to take my learning to the next level. No matter how smart you are, there is always someone who has some important bit of knowledge you don’t possess. My network gets me in touch with people who know something I don’t, and can’t help round out my knowledge. It will also always be the most up-to-date source on a number of critical topics like new tools, and new methodologies.
If I were seriously interested in becoming a Technology Coordinator at the district level, I would take classes in education budget and finance, and classes on education administration. Work towards, or actual acquisition of an administrative credential would be necessary in many districts, and that is something that I am lacking.
I have an excellent knowledge of education technology, and when I’m given an instructional goal or a practice that does not involve tech, I am usually able to see possible ways to integrate technology quickly. I would be much more effective with a stronger knowledge of best practices in curriculum. I could use a course on theory, because although I’ve been in classes referring to Vygotsky and Dewey, I haven’t read them myself. I have folks in my online community who have studied Marzano’s methods, and those sound interesting as well.
A class on effective instruction with adults would provide a solid grounding for “spreading the word” to my peers in a way that is more likely to be received.
Conferences are a great venue for improving my knowledge of best education technology practices, and to learn more about effective presenting. I have attended conferences both at a local, regional, state, and national level. I’ve presented at the first three levels (I did get my session proposal for ISTE — the successor to NECC accepted, but couldn’t go). Despite this, I think there is still a lot I have to learn about presenting effectively. Also, the very nature of education technology involves rapid change. This demands keeping up to date. Conferences are a great way to find out what is new and to see it in practice in-person.
There is an interaction between conferences and my online network that helps sustain my online relationships. I’m one of those people who likes to occasionally meet the folks I know online in-person. It helps me solidify those relationships. Conferences provide that opportunity.
This last year, and going forward, I am trying to concentrate more on my site and my district. The most important thing that I get from large national conferences is perspective. Talking to others in different districts, states, and countries gives me different points of view. I work in a district that has been very insular (although that is changing under new leadership). Sometimes it felt like the materials and methods we used were not just the best way, but the only way to teach.
Some people at these events take this to a rather strange place though. They love conferences because they don’t fit in where they working, and only feel comfortable with other “techies”. To me, the perspective I get is useless if I can’t “bring it home”. I’ve learned a lot, and had a lot of fun at these conferences, but if I want to be a leader, I really need to be able to connect what I’m learning about to my workplace and district, and get others involved.
The following school year (2011-2012) in particular will involve a significant technology push at my school site. My focus will need to be there to make that effective. I still will attend local conferences, and some at the state level, but I’m waiting until 2012 when ISTE is in San Diego before I go there again. Fortunately, there are some outstanding nationally recognized folks here, so it’s not a sacrifice. My only exception to attend a “national” conference, will be going to ASCD. This will be part of my efforts to improve my knowledge of best practices in curriculum, and because it will be held near where I live.
What publications do I read? As a CUE (Computer Using Educators – California and Nevada) and ISTE member, I get their publications. In the next year I plan to add membership in ASCD, and reading their publications. In my RSS readers, I am subscribed to online versions of many of the blogs at Ed Week (Learning the Language, Inside School Research). Most of my reading on policy is online, and comes from suggestions via tweets, and blog posts from others. My list of blogs that I read changes often, but you can see what I’m looking at now here. In the past, I spent a lot of time listening to podcasts, live webcasts, and even participated in a show at Ed Tech Talk, but I’ve fallen out of that recently. I’d like to re-start that practice.