The two main assignments in 5362 required me to interview teachers and administrators concerning technology. We were asked to discuss planning and budgeting with administrators and classroom management with teachers. The teachers I interviewed sang the praises of technology for both special education and low socioeconomic students. I began to understand that students who didn't participate in classroom activities in the past years were now active. I asked myself if students benefit by using technology at school. The studies presented showed that positive self-concept and achievement were strongly related to increased use of technology (Rose & Meyer, 2002). Teachers reported that the withdrawn students created wonderful and insightful media projects. I haven't taught in a special education classroom in several years and only have contact with special education students in my technology applications courses. Maybe it was for this reason that didn’t realize that collaborative classroom environments were leading to higher sense of accomplishment and more engagement with peers by lower functioning students. Collaboration among students requires a lot of socially intelligent work, such as relating to one another, dividing work assignments, and redirecting plans when dead ends occur. These skills assist students in being intellectually capable to work on student-centered projects. I sometimes feel like West Texas is in a fishbowl looking out at everyone else making leaps and bounds with technology, but I noted while reading the Solomon and Schrum article, that they mention to readers that “you will notice that there are not a lot of examples as of yet in which an entire school system has reconceptualized itself to incorporate technology…” (Schrum & Solomon, 2007)
So to answer my own question, “yes, students do benefit from using technology.”
Teachers also reported that they benefit by using technology for classroom management. I learned there are many areas improved by technology. The business classes now use spreadsheets and computers instead of journal sheets and typewriters, the school yearbook became web-based, and the library became totally online. All of this occurred over time and I wonder, “what was I doing that I didn't notice all these things?” Online classes for seniors wanting college hours, multimedia add-ons for all textbooks, web-based credit recovery for at risk students, computer-based remediation and RtI and Web 2.0 are all but a few of the endless list of technology offerings. Authors Swan, Guerrero, Mitrani , and Schoener “ conclude that the less threatening environment, along with immediate feedback, individualized diagnostics, and greater academic support contribute to greater productivity among such populations” (Swan, Guerrero, Mitrani, & Schoener, 1990). I also began to think that with everything good there are usually drawbacks too. Cheating is easier with digital tools and there are also outside threats in the form of e-mail and chat. Also, what happens when the Internet goes down or when a server dies? Off-site backups are a must for our student management system and other important documents. The district management has also benefited greatly by technology. The administrator interviewed reported that although technology was extremely useful and in some cases required by the state, it is very expensive. Internet access, e-mail accounts and RSCCC student management software are the second highest expenditure in the district following salaries. The student management system in my district is much more than a student data collection tool. It manages data in the categories of budget, requisition, asset management, human resources and finance. I use the software and find it to be intuitive and very user-friendly. We get unlimited support almost immediately and rarely have to wait more than 4 hours. However, all of this comes in a high price. The superintendent reported that the cost is approximately $30,000 per year. I consider this a huge expense since our school only has about 250 students.
Planning and budgeting for all of this technology is a slippery slope. It's difficult to foresee the cost of new technology or the cost of replacing hardware or infrastructure so I work closely with the superintendent and the Erate coordinator to create the yearly budget. It is beneficial that I have written our technology plan for the last 8 years and know how much we indicate to the state that we plan to use each year.
Rose, D., & Meyer, A., (2002) Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for
learning. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Available online at the Center for Applied Special Technology web site. Chapter 6.
Retrieved March 7, 2011 from http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes
Solomon, G., & Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0 new tools, new schools. Eugene, OR: International
Society for Technology in Education
Swan, K., Guerrero, F., Mitrani, M., & Schoener, J. (1990). Honing in on the target: who among
the educationally disadvantaged benefits most from what cbi?. Journal of Research on
Computing in Education, 22, 381-403.