Digital Readiness Project by Cory Cummings
For my Digital Readiness Project, I had the opportunity to interview my school’s Director of Technology about the digital readiness of our elementary school. I appreciated the opportunity to learn more about their previous experiences with technology integration, as well as their vision for our school’s technology growth. Mike Ribble’s “Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship,” ISTE’s Standard for Coaches #7, and experiences as my school’s Technology Lead Teacher guided my interview questions.
- Digital Access – How can we make (are we making) sure that all of our classrooms and teachers have equal access to technology? What vision or goals do you have for our school’s technology development?
- Digital Literacy – What ways have you worked to educate teachers and students about digital citizenship? What is your vision for educating our teachers about new technologies so that they can work to build those into their instruction?
- Digital Communication – How do we teach students appropriate etiquette in digital communication spaces? How can we use digital communication and collaboration tools to promote global awareness, and help our students connect with students in a larger community?
- Digital Etiquette – How do we connect our Giddens Norms with the norms of digital citizenship and technology use? What are ways that teachers can model these connections?
- Digital Rights & Responsibilities – How do we teach our students about the rights and responsibilities they have as students in a digital learning environment? What learning opportunities do we offer them?
- Digital Law – How do we/should we track if students are using technology the way it was intended?
- Digital Health & Wellness – How might we integrate mindful practices into student daily technology use?
Devices & Access
Since arriving at my school three years ago, I have been fortunate to be a part of significant strides that have been made to improve digital access. During this time, our school has worked to incorporate technology into the classroom by supplying the 4/5 grade band with 1:1 Chromebooks, increasing the quantity of 2/3 grade band shared Chromebooks to allow for two class sets, and providing each K/1 classroom with 5 iPads (3:1 student to device ratio). The implementation of 1:1 Chromebooks in the 4/5 grade band has provided the opportunity for students and teachers to use Google Classroom as a collaborative learning environment. It has been exciting to see students grow in collaborating in a digital learning community, and strengthen their understanding of digital citizenship practices. Additionally, each K-5 classroom has a document camera, which allows for student work to be displayed and enhances instruction for teachers. Since moving to our new campus in the fall of 2019, projectors with Chromecast devices have also been outfitted into every classroom, and five of those classrooms (2nd-5th grade) have projectors with interactive capabilities. The integration of these technology learning tools has helped to increase access to technology for all classrooms.
Scope & Sequence
During the 2018-19 school year, our school’s technology professional learning community (PLC) designed a scope and sequence to develop a shared understanding of technology progression across grade bands. This scope and sequence outlined concepts, focus skills, and specific instructional activities connected to digital instruction for each grade band. Through this scope and sequence, our staff now has a deeper understanding of the technology experiences that each student has in their educational journey at our school. This document also helps to guide future technology goals in our community, by highlighting successes and identifying areas of growth.
Acceptable Use Policy (AUP)
Through the development of our student acceptable use policy, families have been provided with a clear understanding of the technology responsibilities their student has agreed to when using our school’s information technology network. Teachers model and discuss these digital responsibilities before beginning technology use in the classroom, and these acceptable use guidelines are referenced throughout the year. Digital citizenship lessons, like practicing how to successfully collaborate on shared Google Documents/Slides, help our students to build practical experiences around digital etiquette. The student acceptable use policy has also helped guide our students in taking responsibility for their technology. Students learn about the importance of practicing responsible use of their devices, and how to properly clean them, charge them, and troubleshoot through minor technical issues. Our Directory of Technology has helped to streamline our school’s student AUP form, improve communication to families about technology responsibilities, and eliminate challenges with signing these forms, by creating an e-form that allows families to sign the AUP agreement digitally.
When discussing challenges faced in technology integration, our Director of Technology was concerned with providing equitable technology experiences across classrooms. With this goal comes the additional challenge of cost. Budgeting out how to appropriately and equitably address the technological needs of each grade band can be difficult. In recognizing this challenge, he is working to leverage additional opportunities for acquiring technology resources. For example, one way he envisions leveraging additional funding opportunities, is by applying for available technology grants. Additionally, the cost of providing technology professional development opportunities (like conferences, workshops, and trainings) to all staff can be challenging. He is aware of this obstacle, and he is continuing to strategize on how to both provide these essential PD experiences for staff, and also utilize our own staff to help provide professional development breakout sessions.
One of the biggest goals that our Director of Technology has for continuing to grow in technology integration and digital citizenship instruction, is to provide our teachers with more technology professional development opportunities. This includes supporting teachers in finding conferences and workshops related to technology, and also connecting them with free online resources. He went on to share how it is his vision to help teachers build their confidence and understanding with software technology, and how to use technology tools intentionally. When it comes to growing in our digital citizenship instruction, it is his goal to support teachers in finding curriculum resources (i.e. Common Sense Media, Teaching for Tolerance, etc.) to strengthen student digital practices. He explained that he also hopes to bring in experts to talk with students and teachers about digital citizenship practices. For example, he shared that in his previous position he invited local police officers in to speak with students about their digital rights and responsibilities, and also talk about ongoing issues with cyberbullying. Additionally, he shared his desire to build structured monthly technology professional development into staff meetings, for teachers to explore various topics around technology integration. It excites me to hear about the intentional ways in which our Director of Technology envisions supporting and guiding staff in teaching digital citizenship.
As our school continues to grow in technology integration, my school’s Director of Technology shared that it is his goal to eventually upgrade all K-5 classrooms to have interactive projectors. This would provide each classroom the digital capabilities to toggle between multiple pieces of technology (i.e., Chromecast and Document Camera), while also providing the opportunity to use interactive pens on the whiteboard. With the recent installation of interactive projectors in many of our classrooms, it is also his vision to offer future training for teachers to learn how to use the interactive components to enhance their instruction.
One of the many incredible components of the new school building we recently moved into, is the new technology capabilities that are available in each classroom. Each classroom has an Extron AV system with the capabilities to us Extron’s ShareLink system. The ShareLink system allows for side-by-side split screen use on the projector for student/teacher collaboration. This would allow for up to four screens to be shared on a projector screen at the same time. Our Director of Technology explained that he is currently working on submitting an application for Extron’s Classroom Technology Grant. If accepted for this grant, each classroom would have full access to Extron’s ShareLink system and the opportunity to use this digital collaboration learning tool.
Increasing Personal Student Devices
Increasing the personal student devices available to K/1 and 2/3 students is another important goal that our Director of Technology has for our school. Providing 1:1 student devices in each of these grade bands would allow our school to be completely 1:1 in our K-5 classrooms. With the increase of these devices comes even more opportunities for these grade bands to engage in digital learning experiences, and for students to grow in their digital citizenship practice. Currently our K/1 and 2/3 teachers do an exceptional job of navigating through shared devices. With 1:1 Chromebooks in the 2/3 grade band, these students could have even earlier beginning practice in the responsibilities of managing a personal student device. This would also allow equal access for all 2/3 students to be able to collaborate simultaneously on various grade band projects. Similar opportunities would become available to K/1 students with access to 1:1 iPads. Our Director of Technology is working to help increase the number of devices in this grade band as well, to bring the student to device ratio closer to 1:1. This increase would not only allow K/1 teachers to use iPads in small rotational groups (like they currently do), but also provide more opportunities for whole-class technology instruction and integration into their curriculum.
With recent trends of STEAM integration into instruction, our Director of Technology recognizes the importance of continuously being on the lookout for new technologies to support this learning. He shared his desire to find devices that support multiple forms of programs (i.e. software programs and applications). With having Chromebooks in many of our grade bands, there are limitations to STEAM software programs that do not run on Cloud Chrome OS. His goal is to utilize more STEAM-based devices that support additional technologies, like 3-D printing, coding programs, Minecraft Education, and many more. Additionally, our Director of Technology has a vision of connecting students with STEAM experts. This includes connecting students virtually with STEAM experts around the world, as well as leveraging local community experts in a variety of fields. Providing students with these opportunities would support teachers in providing their students with authentic learning experiences, and essential 21st century skills.
I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to interview our school’s Director of Technology, and discuss our school’s technology successes and goals for growth. While we have made incredible strides in our technology integration, we also recognize that we have areas to continue to grow. This digital readiness project has provided me the chance to connect more with our Director of Technology, and for me to learn how I can help support his vision as our school’s Technology Lead Teacher. I look forward to having more of these technology growth conversations with him in the future, and continuing to collaborate over resources for improving technology integration and digital citizenship instruction.
ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Ribble, M., & Miller, T. A.. “Educational Leadership in an Online World: Connecting Students to Technology Responsibly, Safely, and Ethically,” Journal of Asynchronous Learning Networks, 17:1 (2013): 137-45