How should communities evaluate their schools’ tech integration? [HELP WANTED]


In honor of Digital Learning Day, let’s ask this question: How should communities assess their schools’ integration of digital technologies for learning and teaching?

See the list of proposed indicators below. What do you like? What would you add or change?

  1. Access to learning technologies for students and teachers (e.g., 1:1 computing initiatives, ubiquitous broadband Internet access, creative software, etc.)
  2. Technology integration in classes across the curriculum (e.g., English/Language Arts, Science, Math, etc.)
  3. Adequate personnel resources for supporting technology integration (e.g., learning technologists, information technology support staff)
  4. The role of technology use in class instruction (e.g., student v. teacher use, consumption v. production, replication v. acceleration or transformation of learning and teaching)
  5. Accessibility of adaptive technologies for students with special needs
  6. Ongoing, content-specific professional development for teachers that focuses on pragmatic solutions to technology integration in their context
  7. Student and family access to learning technologies after/away from school

This list is courtesy of Julian Vasquez Heilig, Greg Russell, Katie Jackson, and Dongmei Li at the University of Texas-Austin and is part of a larger project focusing on alternative, community-based forms of school accountability. If you have time, please give them some input. Thanks!

Image credit: Slide – Fancy iGadgets

8 Responses to “How should communities evaluate their schools’ tech integration? [HELP WANTED]”

  1. Perhaps I’m missing something but the number one indicator, I would think, is learning. The term itself has enough depth and breadth to go from A-G just breaking that down.

    I’d argue the ongoing focus on instruction and curriculum as if they are synonymous with learning will continue to hamper growth.

  2. A couple more thoughts to add to your list:

    – Be able to pull data from adaptive curriculum and evaluate student resource use, time on task, performance outcomes, etc.
    – Correlate student achievement, teacher observation protocol data, and content.
    – Data, data, data – without the data we don’t know why positive or negative outcomes happen.
    – Interoperability (SIF Compliance)
    – Student Information Systems (SIS) and Instructional Improvement System (IIS)

  3. I’d include emphasis on the soft-skills – perseverance, attention, effective collaboration. I’m no Luddite regarding technology, but I think many teachers underestimate the distraction that technology poses for many students. I fully support technology integration to increase learning, but we should assess how well we are helping students maneuver through the digital world while maintaining focus and productivity.

  4. I find your categories to be missing the mark somewhat. Technology in education can be a minefield, rarely more so than when attempting to assess its impact. So, I’m going to write my bare naked thoughts here and let you shoot them down…

    I think it is important to establish what you want to measure. Keeping some things surface level has its place. Your first point is a good example of this: does everyone have access?

    Then teachers. Do they have access to training that works with their busy schedules? And a method for evaluating that training provision.

    Teachers again. Are they using technology to enhance learning? (Or just as an exercise book replacement) The SAMR model is helpful here but you have to work out how you know which stage of SAMR is happening.
    Each organisation must make a value judgement on why they have the tech. For example, there is no shame in saying we bought everyone an iPad to save money on paper in the medium term, enabling this tablet to be the productivity and communications tool at the core of what we do and to be competitive and up-to-date. But the danger here is that technology lends itself to simple outcomes very easily. Multiple choice questions. Videos. Copy and paste text and images. Real care is needed to champion higher order processing evidence.

    Another issue with technology outcome learning is how it can be monitored by anyone other than the teacher involved. Until robust platforms for work scrutiny become high on the wish list for organisations, we are going to face increasingly difficult challenges to see evidence of learning and marking. We can of course just take everyone’s word for it.

    However, if you want to add value to learning through the integration of technology, your success criteria need to be well thought out. Surveys are important because you need to measure participants opinions, both teachers and learners, and parents maybe. Academic attainment data is important but you can rarely isolate one factor that has influenced test scores with much reliability. And what do you do if you find no-one wants to carry on with the technology?

    One of the big things that is yet to be addressed in this area – 1:1 – is how will learners feel once the majority of their work is on a screen of some kind. I have three teenagers all glued to screens of one type or another and all straight A students. Their screens are used by choice for pleasure and only sometimes for school-pushed activities (but often for learning about the world, be it music, American sports or keeping in touch with friends). It might just be that young learners get tire of using a screen and the demand for paper resources soars. Or not.

    It will all come down to the same issues we have always faced. Good teaching and good learning are not determined by the tools you use, but by the people that are using them. Good teachers always bring variety to their lessons. We all know that computers are quite capable of achieving variety to a degree because screens are always involved. How do you measure the balance?

    Think I’ve gone off-piste. Apologies. Parents evening so interruptions galore. Hope this helps in some small way.

  5. I like all of the ideas are great but it makes me wonder what will happen as technology continually and rapidly increases with effective teachers that are not as tech savvy? Technology has become a requirement rather than necessity.

    Looking at my little brother who is a junior in high school compared to when I was in high school it seems so much has changed. The use of educational programs and various array of projects that do use technology. It seems so exciting and I am completely in favor of it all as I am in college to get my teaching license.

    I agree that the use of technology in the classroom should be well thought out. However, I also think it enhances student creativity at the same time as learning and being actively engaged in the process.

  6. Hi Scott,

    I find Technology Integration Matrix one of the best way to ensure authentic embedding of technology

  7. I think the ‘success metric’ should have everything to do with the MEDIA products students create as a result of their access to richer and more diverse materials thanks to technology, as well as more robust tools to remix/reflect their understanding and skills. Students should be regularly creating media products like these which are added to their digital portfolios:
    – narrated slideshows/screencasts
    – Geo-maps
    – simulations
    – ebooks
    – digital stories

  8. My list would include:

    1) Robust wireless throughout the building with option for BYOD connections to the WIFI

    2) School-provided (managed) cloud computing

    3) Replace PD with active professional learning

    4) Authentic learning

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