Wednesday, October 8, 2014

An Unexpected Technology Interview

Dear Teachers,
I got a call a few days ago from a colleague in another department. She is taking a graduate class, and one of the assignments involved interviewing someone in the technology department of a school district. I was terribly flattered that she thought of me. I answered pretty off the cuff, just in the span of a few minutes on the phone, but I've kind of been mulling over the questions ever since she called, as well as how I might have answered differently if I'd had a little more time to think things over. Here are the questions; how would you answer them?

1. What is the school vision for technology?

Our district’s technology vision statement is “To provide comprehensive, equitable and efficient use of existing and emerging technology to engage, challenge and nurture diverse learners in preparation for citizenship in an increasingly complex information society.”  To make that happen we need more infrastructure (such as faster workstations, support for WiFi, and 1:1 computing), more true technology integration (not just using PowerPoint and presentation software), and more technology in the hands of students so that they can create rather than consume. Our new technology superintendent is very aware of our infrastructure needs, and we are making great progress on better building-level technology integration. Another blog post on that is coming soon!

2.  If technology were removed, what learning would be impossible/impaired?

Think of the global connections that students are able to make now that were completely unthinkable even a few years ago!   A lot of creativity would be lost and impaired without technology. 

But technology merely enhances and extends the learning, and it will never fully supplant good instruction and strong classroom relationships.

3. How do you support professional development?

Our technology professional development sessions have evolved and definitely improved over the course of the last several years. Whereas we used to teach just how to use a tool (remember way back years ago when we offered classes on things like how to send an email?), we now focus on the curriculum, and which of the hundreds of available apps & websites would work best to increase student engagement and learning. Thanks to our involvement in Learning Forward,  we have incorporated many more principles of adult learning when designing training.

4. What is the best “advice” you can give to yourself for moving technology/learning forward in a way that will make more progress for all students?

In our district, there are about 6500 teachers, and five of us in my department, so building capacity at the school level by empowering teachers is critical.  We are so excited about our rapidly developing critical mass of interested, enthusiastic and capable "ed tech evangelists" at each school! Again, more on that in a subsequent post. We also need to be documenting how improved practice in technology integration is benefiting student learning.

What other questions should we be asking about our district's technology use? What would you add to my answers? Let me know in the comments section.


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