Educational Technology or Educational Administration: My Digital Journey to Leadership
Shannon Dawn Copeland
Educational Technology or Educational Administration: My Digital Journey to Leadership
I began teaching at my current school district in 1991 and was asked to be the District Technology Coordinator in 1998 due to my extensive use of technology in my Special Education classroom. This appointment began a long term relationship with educational technology. My technology experience also readied me to be my district’s choice for the Technology Application certification in 1992 when TIFF grants paid for the technology boon in Texas education. I tried, at that time, to continue my technology training to receive an Educational Technology masters through the University of North Texas, but no one else in my cohort responded positively and my local professor-of-record didn’t pursue it. I do, however, feel fortunate to have been involved in that ground-breaking endeavor.
As a result of my Technology Application certification, I promptly began teaching Webmastery, Digital Graphics/Multimedia, Video Editing, and Desktop Publishing. The experience I gained teaching these technology application courses helped me immensely when I was asked to serve as District TAKS Coordinator in 2004. It is stunning to realize how heavily the web of test coordinator duties relies on technology.
Everything I do is increasingly tied to computers and I have, at last count, 18 passwords for everything from my online grade book to my Texas Education Agency Secure Environment (TEASE) accounts, to the online assessment ordering website, www.texasassessment.com. I originally began this master’s to stop my CPA husband from jokingly brandishing his master’s in accounting at me but my attitude changed after a couple of courses when I decided that I would like to also study for my principal’s certification. It seems that my mid-life crisis expenditure will result in life-long learning tools and possibly open job opportunity doors concurrently.
Position and Leadership Goals
I would like to begin this section on a personal note summarizing a conversation between my husband and me. We were discussing the title of this comprehensive exam and I mentioned that I wanted my title to convey the turn my degree plan and my attitude took when Dr. Abernathy announced that we could add the leadership component to Educational Technology and be eligible to take the principal certification exam. I have been in leadership positions in my school since I was asked to become the District Technology Coordinator in 1997 and my colleagues seemed to follow my lead easily. I began wondering what it was about me that caused co-workers to come to me with anything from retirement plan questions to marriage woes! I do not like writing about myself in this manner, but introspection is introspection, even if a person doesn’t like doing it. I told my husband that while thinking about the portions of assignment one in 5370, I couldn’t separate my educational technology experiences from my leadership experiences, which both began long before I ever heard of Lamar University. I have discovered that educational technology and leadership are intertwined within me and I’ll have to write this paper accordingly. His response was to tell me that “you have lived that path and you can talk in detail about how they (technology and leadership) inter-relate, especially in today’s electronically-enhanced society and if that is the way you see this journey, then I think it would be both easier for you to write and it should make it an interesting read”.
I like my current position as District Technology Coordinator, but have always believed that I should continue studies in the area of technology to stay current with the rapidly changing digital world. This masters program began as a project to fill my time and to better my classroom instruction, but blossomed into a full blown endeavor to make an upward move to, possibly, a technology curriculum director position with a larger school. The principal certification was just a bonus and even though I do not want to be a principal at this time, but I believe that the certification’s presence on my vitae and my SBEC certification will be advantageous while pursuing future jobs. In addition to increased knowledge of new technologies, I have also been given more responsibility in areas not associated with technology or assessment at my school since beginning this course of study. My principal came to me in early October and asked my thoughts on our grading policy and what changes I’d like to see made to it. I feel like this master’s in technology with the leadership component are already opening doors for me.
Developing high-quality leadership goals is something that occurs with time and experience. I hope to lead with strong ethics and compassion for all stakeholders, including parents, teachers and students. A leader must also have an idea or vision of the direction he/she wants the campus to follow and what he/she wants the campus to resemble in the future because curriculum development, staffing patterns, needs assessments and collaboration among stakeholders are huge tasks for one person to try to implement and articulate. A good leader must also, as referred to in one of the standards, be able to distribute, or delegate authority. I don't think that I'm at the point where my vision is entirely clear, but the experiences that I've gained over the last 20 years definitely color my perceptions about all these aspects and I feel like I'm beginning to pull all of this insight together into a plan. If my prior experiences and the training that I’ve received in this course of study have helped me grow as an educator and possibly a future school leader, then perhaps I’ll be able to recognize pitfalls while becoming a good proactive leader.
Classroom of the Future: Built for Creation and Presentation
Schools and classrooms of the future will take advantage of a number of new technologies outlined in the 2010 Horizon Report. This resource explains the exciting new services that are becoming mainstream. Cloud computing, collaborative environments, game-based learning, mobiles, augmented reality and flexible displays are discussed at length in this report. These technologies are broken down into the categories of near-term, mid-term and far-term depending on their entry into mainstream use in schools. They also show great potential for teaching, learning and creative expression. (Johnson, Smith, Levine & Haywood, 2010) Cloud computing seems to be the cornerstone for all of these technologies, with collaborative environments and mobile and augmented reality apps based in the “cloud” already. I find cloud computing a remarkable step towards unlimited storage space and application availability. We are sure to by-pass physical hard-drives completely someday, having thin client computers that take advantage of cloud-based applications and storage exclusively.
Amazon.com recently launched its cloud drive offering 5 GB of free storage, access from any computer and secure storage. This service made me wonder about how long the concept of cloud computing has been around. I was astounded to find an article written in 1996 that actually describes an idea that would become what we know as cloud computing today. More astonishing is the fact that the author even refers to “a concept of a kernel (seen as a fix point, real place allowing social interaction and direct contact of learners with ‘live’ knowledge) and the concept of a cloud (seen as a virtual place allowing remote access to or interaction with knowledge and people)”.(Vivet, 1996, p.664) Vivet envisioned online learning communities operating with real-time communication such as Skype, chatrooms, facebook and the many other social and educational sites available to the masses.
The classroom of the near future will have access to all these technologies and more. I think I would use many of the ideas produced in the “Classroom of the Future” video for my classroom. (mediaineducation, 2007) My classroom would be designed specifically for creation and presentation of projects and ideas. If I could design a classroom from barebones to fully functional, I would begin with power concerns. There would have to be power available by means of wall-length, mounted power strips on every wall and multi-outlets in the floors. There would be wireless access with maximum frequency bands for use with mobile devices, such as cell phones, iTouches, iPads, laptops and streaming video delivery systems. Most of the mobile devices would lend themselves to game-based learning. I have students in my current classroom using iPads to play games presenting a number of strategic games and logic activities. I heard a speaker at ESC17 mention one time that all students have an attention span, we just have to find what holds it. If traditional means of teaching don’t keep students interested, many times game-based learning does. I do worry that this generation is becoming more isolated and withdrawn in real social situations, even though they are quite prolific in their online “lives”.
There will be two Promethean smart boards (one for my instruction and one for student presentations) and a document camera for presenting both student work and teacher instruction. I’ll also expect 1 to 1 computing with all computers mapped to a shared server and students with their own logins. The computer pods will all have networked scanners and printers. Although flexible displays are mentioned with the far-term technologies in the Horizon Report, I have seen, on television, desktops that worked much like a giant iPad or touch-phone. The designers were using a table-top computer screen the size of an office desktop. It reminded me of a cross between an iPad and a Promethean board in its functionality. The classroom desks will be modular as to accommodate several students into cooperative learning groups as mentioned above in the description of the learning pods. The walls will be covered with whiteboards that can be used as either writing surfaces or projection displays. My current classroom has both whiteboards and cork bulletin boards for student collaboration and presentation of projects. I’ve noticed that our English teachers are also using whiteboards in their classrooms, but not attached to the wall. Three of them have gone to Lowe’s Home Improvement and purchased “shower boards” and had our maintenance department cut them into sizes that can be placed in the middle of groups of students for collaboration and brainstorming. The students all use different color markers to show evidence of their work.
All of this design and planning must go hand in hand with sound teaching, leading and learning. Instructors must provide problems for students to solve and practice at solving them. Learning must also be presented in logical sequences allowing exposure to pre-requisites before more complex tasks and students need instructor-guided learning in conjunction with collaborative and self-directed learning to be successful. We have learned a great deal since I became a teacher 20 years ago. Students are now more experimental learners who are interactive and social. They have become multi-taskers and are less linear thinkers than my generation. That concept hits close to home with me due to my position as District TAKS Coordinator. I haven’t been able to train anyone to help me with TAKS testing because I’m such linear thinker that I can’t hand any part of the process over without severing some of my internal checks and balances for the procedures. Today’s students also EXPECT technology to be a integral part of their teaching and learning. It is up to school administrators to direct teachers to get the training they need to deliver this type of instruction.
In addition to being the District TAKS Coordinator, I’m also the District Technology Coordinator. This means that I authored our District Technology Plan and had it very much in mind when designing this classroom of the future. My district conducted a needs assessment and found that “Our research indicates that there is a need to expand the use of technology in our classrooms, across our campuses, and in our community. For this to be done successfully, the teachers must receive in-service instruction to effectively integrate technology into their teaching strategies.” (Copeland, 2009) Our goals and objectives clearly state the needs for our students and district. We have 3 main goals: Anton ISD will prepare students for a technologically advancing world, AISD will access and utilize current technologies, and AISD will form a partnership with the community to provide opportunities involving current technology. These 3 goals are supported with numerous objectives and strategies that will be described more completely in Week 5’s assignment detailing our technology plans.
Technology Leadership Skills, My Attitudes and Myself: What Have I Learned?
This has been a journey that began with a desire to hold a master’s degree in a subject that consumes my life. Every aspect of my job includes technology in some way. Whether I’m ordering TAKS/STAAR tests online, teaching digital graphics or explaining why an email video of someone’s grandchild won’t deliver because it’s too big, I’m using technology. Along the way, I began to formulate what is still becoming my vision of technology and leadership in respect to not only my current job, but also a job that I might hold in the future. Technology can no longer be an “extra” in school. It must be an integral part of our curriculum and cannot be taught in isolation because our world is becoming less industrial and more digital.
I learned a few hard and irritating lessons about myself during this journey. It was about this time that I began strongly questioning the teaching methods in my school and became suspicious that in order to teach these kids without boring them to death, we needed to stop giving notes in lecture form and start getting them out of their seats and into groups brainstorming, collaborating and researching with digital tools. I WAS one of the teachers that kept students in their seats quietly working before I began teaching technology applications courses several years ago. I guess I experienced an “awakening” of sorts in that I began to see years ago what I want my colleagues to know now. The Teaching with Technology course illustrated to me how the UDL philosophy allows us, as educators, to rethink materials, methods, goals and assessments using its multiple means of introducing and learning concepts. If our students are motivated to create and learn using digital tools, then we need to provide them with the opportunity to do so. “Effort is the only controllable source of success and students who truly believe that they can be successful have more motivation and initiative than other students.” (Pitler, Hubbell, Kuhn, & Malenoski, 2007, p. 155) I believe that even if the task outcome isn’t a success, the reinforcement of it is and students will continue to work towards the achievement of goals. Our students need to “learn how to learn” because there is too much to memorize. I recently attended a conference in which the presenter used Google as an example of why students need to learn how to question. He simply typed an inquiry and his point wasn’t with how many hits were returned, but with how fast the information was returned. This re-enforced my belief that today’s kids need to know how to THINK. Linda Darling-Hammond (2007) expressed in a video that school teachers and leaders need training to be emotionally and socially intelligent in order to educate the whole child. I believe this would allow children to handle the stress in their lives and to relate well to a variety of peers if collaborate careers are our future.
I feel like my school is always one step behind with technology that other schools seem to have now. The challenge of providing our students with the technology tools they need to be successful in the world, both today and tomorrow, isn’t an isolated problem. It seems that the same obstacles abound in many areas and there are various reasons for this. We have administrators in my school and elsewhere who don’t want to try any new technology due to fiscal or logistical issues or to competing demands on time and resources. Solomon and Schrum (2007) say, however, that some schools are taking the first steps in the process of including full integration of technology into their classrooms. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is a major contributor that helps to sponsor a great many of these full integration schools. It’s frustrating for me, as a potential administrator, to see and read about the schools that use technology seamlessly in their everyday lessons and know that other schools are just struggling to pay for the unfunded mandates being meted out by our state.
My unenthusiastic attitude over the last few years was the momentum I needed to push me toward returning to school. I was burned out teaching the same things that I’d been teaching since receiving my Technology Applications certification in 2003 and I felt as though I was standing on the sidelines of something awesome. I knew that there were so many new tools and so much open source material available and this knowledge was one of the reasons I sought out a degree program that would place me squarely in the present using the most current digital tools.
"Information also flows free of the containers that we previously managed as the gatekeepers” (Warlick, 2007, p. 20) I’m excited about teaching again because of the new avenues that have been opened for me. We are no long the keepers of the information and we, as teachers, should be learning right alongside the students. I am definitely more compassionate toward core subject area teachers who are preparing students for state assessments and try to use the knowledge that I’m gaining both through this master’s program and through my own research to help them have successful outcomes. As a life-long learner, I have subscribed to a new educational theory that includes students, teachers and administrators all learning and growing together.
The Six Most Influential Courses of this Journey
EDLD 5306 Fundamentals of Educational Technology
EDLD 5306 was a great initial course for both re-orienting myself with college level course work and learning about pioneering digital research by the likes of Warlick and Prensky. Although I am very familiar with the Texas STaR Chart and The Long Range Plan for Technology, I had not done a multiyear analysis to discern at what level my teachers were functioning and the findings were not positive. I was also introduced to final word protocol in this course and began to see how it is used to expand a group’s understanding of a topic in a limited amount of time. This is only a fraction of the new learning I began 18 months ago.
I was intrigued by Warlick’s (2007, p. 20) statement that for the first time in history we, as educators, are preparing kids for a future that we cannot describe. I also found that digital inequity is a terrible problem facing many small schools. "The digital divide refers to the gap between individuals, households, businesses and geographic areas at different socioeconomic levels with regard to both their opportunities to access information and communication technologies..." ("Digital Divide", 2011, para. 1) This statement is one of the cornerstones of my developing philosophy. Another vision-shaping idea for me is that of digital inequity. How do we as educators provide low socioeconomic, low tax base districts with technology comparable to larger districts? Are our students leaving school at a disadvantage?
EDLD 5344 School Law
School Law contained the bases for many of the procedures I followed as a special education teacher. This course covered a lot of special education topics including FERPA, No Child Left Behind and IEP’s. It was interesting to finally see in print why so many guidelines regarding handicapped students are needed.
Due process for teachers was an issue at my school during the time I took this course and Walsh’s school law book became well-worn by both my superintendent and me. The intricacies of due process for students could be quite intimidating for a new principal and I'm glad to have gotten a glimpse at issues that could arise.
In light of today's obsession with social media, rights to free speech is also a hot topic. I used information from this course to update our Acceptable Use Policy to reflect new digital tools available to students and policies were also adopted by the school board regarding teacher-student contact using social media and texting.
Last year’s actions by many schools trying to lighten their personnel load were of particular interest to me after learning about contracts and property rights. The probationary, term and continuing contract information was useful to me when trying to decide if I could be dismissed by a reduction in force. I had several coursemates who didn’t like school law due to its limited technology content but I found it fascinating.
EDLD 5333 Leadership for Accountability
My position as District TAKS Coordinator familiarized me with virtually all of the content found and 5333 but there is no such thing as too much training when considering accountability. I gained more insight into No Child Left Behind and Adequate Yearly Progress just in time for it all to be reauthorized. I wish the state and federal accountability were more compatible
This course also reintroduced both personal and shared school vision. We took this course in May and my superintendent charged our faculty with developing ideas for a plan to institute a shared vision for our district over the summer. It seems as though several of these courses occurred at the exact time I needed them and I was able to return to school this year with good resources and a plan of action for gathering stakeholders for a shared vision meeting.
The activity we did to identify strengths and weaknesses using our own school data was definitely an eye-opener. The data gleaned from exercise almost identical to this one caused our district to apply for and receive an Algebra One Readiness grant that allowed us to hire a math coach and implement a double blocked math schedule for junior high.
EDLD 5366 Digital Graphics
I can say without a doubt that Digital Graphics was the course that my Technology Application students liked the best. It provided me and then them a glimpse into many open-source design tools that we could use at school and home. I used the design principles information and a logo maker to create the school logo for our Facebook and Twitter accounts and the cheerleaders I have in class used them to create the poster they submitted to a local news channel for a competition. During Week 3 of this course, my students and I began watching Scratch animation tutorials. They were really excited to start working with the animation software. We all learned a lot working, experimenting and exploring animation together. I downloaded Google SketchUp, Pivot, Stykz and Scratch and we practiced a bit with each tool. I know that I always learn more from working with my students than from sitting by myself trying to figure it out. We created simple animations using the free animation tools.
The skills and resources I gained in this course also helped me provide new opportunities for diverse learners. The special education students I teach love the creative aspects of design, animation and video production. It is just as easy to gauge learning using digital tools and rubrics as it is with pencil and paper and the students seem to gain a deeper degree of learning with digital tools. I love seeing my students fidget with excitement to leave their desks to create on the computers or iPads.
EDLD 5362 Informational Systems Management
My creative side prickled with a hint of excitement upon reading the syllabus for 5362 and finding that we could design a classroom of the future with unlimited funds. It was akin to a person asking themselves what they would do with lottery winnings! It was fun discussing and planning with a colleague how we would build and arrange the perfect multimedia lab.
This course also led us through the analysis of our student management system. I am the security administrator and a novice user of the software so I had no idea of the cost or of the peripheral uses. The school nurse gave me an overview of the school health functions and the business manager showed me how she uses it for payroll and finance. My use has always been limited to setting up users and registration reports.
We also read several articles regarding Internet filtering and the widening gap between students and their schools. These are two topics that directly impact my job. We are responsible for protecting students “from harmful, obscene and otherwise unworthy websites.” ( Ullman, 2009) There was also a whole page of products used by other schools across the nation and I like having choices if our web filtering system ever needs to be changed. I was also particularly interested in a study done by the Pew Internet and American Life Project regarding the growing digital disconnect in our schools. The study explored the amount of Internet use occurring in and out of school. It pointed out that the students are absorbed with technology at home but many schools still use traditional paper and pencil lecture techniques for teaching and information delivery. “Many schools and teachers have not yet recognized, much less responded to, the new way students communicate and access information over the Internet.” (Levin & Arafeh, 2002, p. iii) No wonder our students are disinterested in school.
EDLD 5363 Multimedia Video Technology
Multimedia and Video Technology was an entry into both digital storytelling and long-distance group projects. I now have every student in my classes bring 10 personal photos the first week of school to teach several skills including scanning and saving to network folders. The pictures also serve the purpose of making a Photostory presentation. It always surprises me just how creative students are when they don't know they're learning. I wasn't aware of digital storytelling until taking this course but have since seen it in many technology articles and in online bookstores. Students who can't find a voice to write about themselves on paper seem to breeze through sharing themselves with digital tools.
I am usually the student who, for various reasons, would rather do assignments and projects by myself than with a group but was forced find a others for the Public Service Announcement. I dreaded trying to complete a long distance project and ended up being astonished at how easy it turned out to be. A Google wiki and a group Skype account was all we needed to create a great video encouraging people to vote in a bond election. This practice made the second group project even easier considering I was spending most of my time at the hospital with my 14 year old son and his broken back.
Armstrong, S., & Warlick, D. (2004, September). The new literacy: the 3rs evolve into 4es.
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Copeland, S., (2009.) 2009-2012 District Technology Plan for Anton ISD. Retrieved May 3,
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Levin, D., & Arafeh, S. (2002). The digital disconnect. The widening gap between internet-savvy
students and their schools. Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved on
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mediaineducation. (2007, September 12). Classroom of the future hd: what's new in educational
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instruction that works. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum
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Warlick, D. (2007). Literacy in the new information landscape. Library Media Connection,
• 101 E. 26th St., Littlefield, Texas, 79313 • 806.385.1357 • firstname.lastname@example.org
Lamar University Beaumont, TX
Master’s Educational Technology Fall ’11
University of North Texas Denton, TX
Technology Applications Certification Spring ’02-Spring ‘03
Texas Tech University Lubbock, TX
Bachelor of Science Education Fall ’89-Spring ‘91
South Plains College Levelland, TX
PHI THETA KAPPA Fall ’86-Spring ‘89
Anton ISD Anton, TX
August ’91-May ’92
K-12th Special Education
August ’92-May ‘04
7th-12th Special Education
District Special Education Supervisor
District Technology Coordinator
Webmastery, Digital Graphics, Video Editing, Multimedia, Desktop Publishing
District TAKS Coordinator
Certifications – Texas State Board of Education
• Elementary Self-Contained, Grades (1-8)
• Elementary English, Grades (1-8)
• Secondary Reading, Grades (6-12)
• Secondary English, Grades (6-12)
• Generic Special Education, Grades (PK-12)
• Technology Applications, Grades (8-12)
• Principal (EC-12) completion Fall ‘11
• District Site-based Committee
• Campus Site-based Committee\Leadership Committee
• Attendance Committee
• RtI Committee
• Crisis Prevention Team (aka Restraint Training)
• TEASE/PFAI (Fitnessgram)- District Administrator
• e-MEASUREMENT (Online TELPAS/STAAR) - District Administrator
• EPLAN/StaR Chart – District Administrator
• ITV – Technology Facilitator
• Texasassessment.com District Administrator (Online assessment website)
• Pearson Schoolhouse – District Administrator
• Case-e IEP software
• Accommodations Request Forms (ARFs)
• Eduphoria – Administrator for Aware, PDAS 2012, Management
• CSCOPE – District Administrator
• NAEP – Site administrator
• Epsilen (Project Share) – District Administrator
• Renaissance Learning – District Administrator
• School Reach – District Administrator
• OdysseyWare – District Administrator
• Activity Accounts – Manage Excel workbook accounts
• District Special Education Supervisor
• District Technology Coordinator
• District TAKS/STAAR Coordinator
Professional Development – Region 17 Education Service Center – Lubbock, TX
• Annual TAKS/STAAR/EOC training
• Student Sexual Abuse training
• Webpage building – (as presenter)
• TxEIS Gradebook – (as presenter)
• Annual Technology Conference
Professional Development – continued
• Teaching Web Literacy
• eduphoria! Schoolobjects:aware Demonstration
• Interactive White Board Power Point Training
• Online Introduction to Moodle
• Integrating Technology for Elementary
• Technology Fair for Classroom Teachers
• Thinkfinity for Secondary
• 2 Day Apple Podcasting Training
• Adobe Photoshop for Beginners
• Technology Planning and STaR Chart Training
• Introduction to Microsoft PowerPoint
• WebCCAT for District Level Users
• Beginning Adobe Acrobat
• 8e6 Training
• CODEC Training
• E-Rate Workshop 2004
• Microsoft Publisher - Level I
• Video Editing Tips
• Network Security Meeting
• Microsoft Access –Intermediate
• Adobe PageMaker
• Annual Regional Distance Learning Meeting
• Developing Technology Plans Responsive to District Needs
• Acceptable Use Policies and Internet Safety Plans
• Video Production
• Troubleshooting ITV
Dwayne Chenault - Superintendent
Anton ISD- Wellman Union
Joe Christan – Principal
Jeff Brazil – Principal
References – continued
Jim Fuller – Superintendent
Kathy Hutchinson – Special Education Director, South Plains Educational Coop