Shift and Change in School: The “7 Things” Theory

I am toying with an idea that came up at a recent department meeting I had with my tech teachers here at Dubai American Academy.  I asked them each to talk about technology integration and what that meant to them and also how they percieved the success of that model at DAA.  Each talked about different things and I was struck that I agreed with each of them.  How then to reconcile all those ideas?

In relating the discussion to others afterwards I found myself repeatedly saying “There are 7 things that need to change in order to make a successful change in Tech use in schools.”  I am not sure where I got the number, but “7 Things” seemed to make my point that, even if you change one or two things about the school or about teaching, you will not effect lasting change or successfully shift the school into a 21st Century Technology Learning model.

Most importantly, these all need to be done at the same time.  They are not successful when only some of them are done and they are not successful when done sequentially.

So what are the 7 Things?

  • Curriculum: The curriculum needs to change to reflect integrated technology opportunities within subject area units (even if they need to be changed every year or two)
  • PD: Classroom and subject area teachers need good PD both in technology tools appropriate to their area and in planning units and lessons with technology tools from the outset (not planning their lessons and units and then asking the tech team for some help afterward).
  • Schedule: The use of computer lessons as planning time for teachers (in the elementary school) and having mandatory (or elective) classes in “technology” needs to be thrown out to allow the tech “teachers” time to plan and teach collaboratively, to go to classrooms or work with other teachers in the labs.  The labs (if there are to be labs at all) need to be open for teachers to use.
  • Hardware and computer labs: Students need their own computer.  Period.  Along with this, the network must be created/improved to handle the load of 1:1.  Accept this and start planning now because it takes years to get there.
  • Perceptions of Technology: Technology can no longer be seen as a separate subject.  It is not.  Technology tools are tools that help students learn Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Music, Drama, Art, etc.  They are the things that enable students to make connections in their learning.
  • Collaborative teaching: Until all teachers are proficient enough in their own requisite tech tools, teachers must work together with their colleagues and the school’s technology integration specialists.  The team approach is essential.
  • Choosing the right tools: We need to take a good close look at what technology tools are really necessary for each grade level and subject and work with teachers to get them and their students proficient in using those.  We do not need to teach students 10 different software packages each year.  Choose a couple of tools and use them over and over.  For learning.  Not for their own sake.  If a certain tool, like PowerPoint, is not serving the classroom curriculum, we need to stop using it and teaching it.  We don’t need to teach PowerPoint in Grade 3 because they will need it in Middle School.

7 Things.  All at the same time.

Some caveats of course.  What do you think?  Let’s hear some challenges and Yeah-Buts in the comments.

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~ by mcglaysia on September 23, 2008.

5 Responses to “Shift and Change in School: The “7 Things” Theory”

  1. Mike,

    the most insightful thing I have heard recently pertains to #5, perceptions of technology. It is that we are undergoing such a fundamental shift into a digital, networked culture: this is akin to the shift from, for example, an oral to a literate culture in its scope and implications. In other words, technology is not only not just another subject, it is in fact (for better or worse) a new paradigm. some thoughts from outside the system…

  2. Not outside the system…we are all part of the system! Wuwuhahahahah!

  3. Until the schools that teach teachers actually makes technology a priority and not a class they have to take. Teachers will not not learn technology or how to use it. Teachers have enough on their books already learning a new “tool” takes too much time. Technology needs to be integral in their training so that it is not seen as a new tool but as an integral part of their planning. Also, teachers need to stop fearing technology, there are too many teachers that are afraid they don’t know what to do and don’t have time to learn it, so they don’t. In short we need a massive overhaul of the the teacher, admin mindset about what technology is, how to use it, and how to better afford it (freeware) and not get stuck using name brands. Anyway, I am rambling now so ta ta

  4. The seven points pretty much sum-up the challenge, give or take another few. It seems like a shift in the direction you describe should come as a result of a strategic planning effort. There are potential obstacles in each one of the seven points, but none of these obstacles are unsurmountable. However, it would probably take several years to achieve the desired result. Off hand I look at “schedule” and it is apparent that in our current situation we need tech courses to fulfill our elective requirements. This can be changed, but again, it would take some time as it implies some fairly major changes to the existing program.

    To me the most essential step is to provide the tech “guide” with the time and the plan to work with teachers and bring them along to where they are believers. The hardware, i.e., each student a computer, alterations to our system, etc., is a much easier problem to tackle. It is the introduction, convincing, and training of faculty that is the key. As far as curriculum, the use of technology should appear clearly in the maps teachers create for their courses. As long as the maps are current, alive, and changing, the technology most suitable for teaching particular pieces should appear in them and change as thinking evolves.

  5. Hi Mike,

    Hope all is well in Dubai…. different location same issues. Thai’s would say “same, same but different”. For me I reached some clarity when I stopped thinking about what needs to change, instead what are we trying to achieve. THE SCHOOL VISION. Now how does Technology support the vision. Take DAA’s core values: World citizenship, Universal Values, Leadership Qualities and Forward Thinking. If these truely are fundamental to the school, then teachers and the curriculum must be held accountable to promoting world citizenship, leadership qualities and forward thinking…..therefore the tech MUST be happening. Right?

    If as I suspect DAA is like many other schools, where we develop a vision, then very loosely tie it to what is actually happening in the school. This is typical of the majority of schools and most have fantastic visions. But few are being held accountable to it. If it were, as Tech Coordinators, in the eyes of teachers we’d go from “Oh no what’s he going to try and get me to use now” to “Mike can you help me develop world citizenship, this is my teaching goal that I’ll be assessed on!”

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