Technology use planning means creating a plan for using technology to learn, assess, teach, and produce in any learning environment. It means determining learning objectives, apply learning theory principles, and using a technology to achieve the objectives. The plan manages information and technology resources. It evaluates the technology analyzing the features, costs and methods of applications.
1. National Education Technology Plan 2010 stated to use technology to improve learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. An effective plan helps to identify weaknesses and provides solutions. NETP 2010 provided data and examples which a person could use to evaluate an organization and identify weaknesses. It then made recommendations for possible solutions. In the learning category, it stated that on average students spend over 7 hours a day using multimedia tools. It meant that to engage learners and to make learning relevant, teachers must incorporate digital tools as part of the learning process. I realized it was an area that I needed to improve on because I had not exposed my students to any digital tools. It made me think about the tools that I had available and how I could apply these tools with the topics we cover in class to better prepare students for life outside of class. Using this strategy is an effective way of integrating technology where it’s needed.
Reading the NETP 2010 had a profound impact for couple of reasons. One is that it shows the the direct relationship between each of the five components. An input or a deficiency in one affects each of the other sections. Reading and thinking about this made me realize the complexity of education. The variable inputs in each section can produce a complex web of outputs requiring a right balance of ingredients. Learning is different for each individual, and the path for effective learning will have many routes. Finding the right solution may prove to be difficult. Fortunately, a teacher doesn’t have to do this alone. It was inspiring to read how educators are working together and testing new ideas and putting them into practice with success. It stressed that learning is a team activity and we should let others get involved in the decision making process by sharing information and learn from other members in a community. It stressed empowering the learner with technology and letting the learner take control of his learning. One example was the pilot program in New York City that used a variety of learning methods to teach math in order to bring out the potential of each individual learner. In order for education to move forward we need more stories like this – to be inspired by the achievements of others.
2. Dr. John See in Developing Effective Technology Plans stated that technology plans need to be short term. NETP 2010 is a long term plan but clearly stated that action must be taken now in order to meet objectives by 2015. I also agree that it is more important to focus on the short term goals. Short term goals are easier to manage and the benefits are immediate. The Information and Communications and Technology stated a great disparity exists in internet use among developed and developing countries – 77 percent in developed countries and 31 percent in developing countries. For one country to improve this number by 46 percent, it would require a massive undertaking. Constraints on time, money and effort make it impossible to complete all at once. The project is too complex. However, a series of short term goals are achievable because it simplifies the project into manageable tasks.
Short term goals also allow people to access the resources which will have an immediate impact on learning. If one school is wired to high speed internet, it opens a wealth of resources to hundreds of students. It’s better to have some benefits now rather than no benefits at all. Learners will have the opportunity to try out educational tools and learn how to use them. This has advantages even if a program is discontinued later on. Having the experience will make it easier to learn other programs which share similar tools and functions. Also by creating a network, learners can learn from each other.
3. Dr. See stated that application is more important than technology. Many will argue that technology itself forms the basis for applications. Within the last ten years we’ve seen incredible developments in technology. However, as a teacher I would argue that application is more important because how people use the technology determines if it is useful. Application allows teachers to reinforce key concepts, and use it in new and creative ways. Teachers use technology to create activities to review and supplement class concepts. A great place to see this in action is Edutopia. It’s a learning community for educators where we can see how others are using technology to make learning meaningful. One technological development has been the iPad and the way people are using it with educational apps in a variety of subjects. However, some teachers have trouble using it stressing the point that a fantastic tool becomes useless if we don’t apply it to its potential.
The application of technology has led to something even greater. It has allowed people to find new uses in technology which were previously unimaginable. It’s hard to believe that the internet is over 20 years old. Back when it first started, internet was used to get email and to do basic communication. It reminded me of my university days checking email, viewing websites, and searching for information. Learning took place in class. There were no class websites. Now it’s a complete turnaround as a result of creative thinking and how people use the internet. The learning environment is the class website, and internet is used as a way to interact and not just to read information. The way people use technology continues to evolve, and it will be interesting to see these developments in the future.
4. I used technology for very basic functions prior to 2011. My classroom was equipped with a computer, internet, large screen monitor, and a sound system. I used Microsoft Word and PowerPoint to create worksheets and presentations and the internet to show videos and find tips on lesson ideas, planning, and activities. A significant change took place when I began to teach online. I needed to better understand the tools and instructional design for an online environment. Technology planning involved evaluating and identifying a need and then thinking of solutions to reach specific objectives. One example was a need to add supplemental videos to watch and discuss in an online class. Initially I used Skype to teach but the videos were ineffective. I decided to explore other options, and after searching and testing other programs without success, I landed on Google. Because it had the YouTube application integrated within its suite of programs, the videos worked beautifully. Google has a host of other programs which allowed me to further integrate other aspects of technology with positive benefits. I began using its calendar, Google Drive, and its document editing feature accessible to multiple users. I have been extremely happy with the results because the tools have made the online teaching experience more complete for students and has also allowed me to improve.
The second aspect was to further refine how I teach online. This meant learning more about effective online teaching strategies. A goal I had was to to make the learning more activity based where students could use their knowledge and tools to solve problems or apply their knowledge into other projects. After doing research about online education, I felt the best plan was to reeducate myself by enrolling into an educational technology program. It would help to better understand what constitutes learning, the tools and methods used to achieve it. Thus far, I’ve completed two courses and have been thoroughly satisfied with what I’ve learned. At the end of two years I hope to be few steps closer to being an expert in online education.