OUT ON A LIM with Educational Technology

 

Administrative Leadership

February 1999/March 1999, Journal of Adventist Education, written by Janine Lim

In the last issue we introduced this column. Now let us examine ways principals and administrators can facilitate the use of technology in the curriculum. We will focus on three areas: training, funding and support, and curriculum integration.

     1. Training. Using technology in the classroom can change the classroom climate so dramatically that it is similar to first year teaching. To use a new tool or strategy such as technology, teachers need effective and extensive training.

     There are many creative ways to provide technology training: after school mini sessions, full day inservices, summer training, and "just-in-time" training are only a few. When school is not in session, send the computers home in the summer with your teachers. The best way to learn to use a computer is to be able to practice and work with it. Use E-mail to disseminate information at both the school and conference level. This encourages everyone to learn to use E-mail to keep from missing important news. Encourage those who are familiar with technology to train their fellow teachers and share knowledge at staff meetings. As one technology coordinator says, "Give teachers plenty of training opportunities at frequent intervals. An hour before or after school several times a year will probably do more than to have day-long "inservicing" once or twice a year." (1)

     Businesses are moving towards "just-in-time" training--teaching employees new things as they need to know them. Teachers may not be ready to learn mail merge, but when they see another teacher sending home personalized notes, they may be ready to learn how, too. Use a needs assessment to determine what your teachers are ready to learn. This past summer, the International Society of Technology in Education (ISTE) published technology standards for teachers.(2) Use these standards to assess the needs of your teachers and provide training. You can also create a survey including questions such as:

  • What equipment do you have at home?
  • How much time do you use it?
  • How much time do students get to use your classroom equipment?
  • What equipment do you feel you need?
  • What software do you feel you need?
  • What computer skills would you like to learn?
  • Do you have email?

     This information can be used to plan and provide training, as well as to guide purchasing and support decisions. Have your technology committee members or other teachers provide training to the teachers. The "Each one, Teach One Approach" is the ideal way to spread technology. Keeping up with which teachers has which skill and asking them to share with folks who want to learn that one skill multiplies your reach.(3) Use your needs assessment to plan and provide training. Provide recognition for teachers who are using technology in the classroom. Adapt your training to the needs and time schedules of your teachers.

     2. Funding and support for the computers. It is very difficult to use technology in the curriculum without good computers and maintenance. A technology committee can assist in this area. The Adventist school in Niles, Michigan, has a technology committee made up of community and church members who have computer expertise. They advise in making decisions and hardware and software support for the school. Other schools are fortunate to have a teacher who can do the support on the side. I encourage you to give those teachers release time to fix the computers.

     Parents can also assist in this process. As another technology coordinator suggests, "Let your parents know what you're doing. They're sending their children to a parochial school not only for a religious education, but also because they want an excellent education product for their children. In the past few months I've started to communicate more with our parents about technology news in the school and they've been great with encouragement, ideas, and —wonderfully— donations of excellent used equipment."

     If you have a limited number of computers, and few teachers use them, give the technology to the teachers who request it and have a plan for using it. This way your computers will be used effectively.

     3. Curriculum Integration. Whenever appropriate, technology should be used within the core curriculum. The computer is just another tool to help the learning process. Principals can assist in many ways, including the following:

  1. Require lesson plans along with requests for software. If teachers ask for software, ask them what they plan to do with it. How does it fit with the curriculum?
  2. Encourage and foster sharing of ideas to use the technology in the curriculum. Spend some time at staff meetings planning and sharing lesson ideas.
  3. Encourage teachers using technology to share their skills and knowledge with others. Give incentives for this if possible.

     Using technology effectively in the classroom takes time and patience. Let us continue to persist in this ongoing process to enhance our teaching and learning.

Internet Resources

Notes and References

  1. Lynn Henry (lhenry@mail.concordia-academy.pvt.k12.mn.us). (1998, October 14). Getting started. Discussions on CC Staff Development [Online]. Available email: crc-request@listserv.classroom.com [1998, October 14].
  2. See http://www.iste.org/Resources/Projects/TechStandards/ to access the standards.
  3. Towne, Holly (towne@MyHome.ORG). (1998, October 10). Looking for models. Discussions on CC Staff Development [Online]. Available email: crc-request@listserv.classroom.com [1998, October 10].

© 1999 Journal of Adventist Education


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