In reflecting upon the topic of teaching and technology there can be little doubt that technological innovation has worked to revolutionize the world of teaching and the manner in which curricular content is introduced, instructed, and assessed. From the introduction of the World Wide Web and computers through to interactive technologies and mobile devices technology integration has allowed for greater levels of creativity and flexibility in gaining understanding; which has consequentially raised the proverbial bar in relation to learner expectations. Our world has evolved into a technology-driven society and placed greater demands upon teachers to instill in their students the skills and attributes to be self-directed, critical thinkers, capable of creatively solving problems, and efficiently adapting to challenges. Now in looking at the acquisition of these skills in reference to these changing expectations the overall goal of instruction has remained the same. Be it viewed as traditional and old school or cutting edge and tech savvy, the outcome of instruction has always been ensuring that students know and understand the content they are being taught. Thus it is that in reflecting on the development and integration of authentic technology-based learning experiences, and the promoting of self-directed learning and creative thinking that it is also incumbent to reflect upon teachers’ skills and comfort levels in relation to technology integration as this will undoubtedly influence instructional effectiveness and levels of achieved student success. A useful resource to aid in evaluating teachers’ technology skills and comfort levels is the National Education Technology Standards for Teachers or NETS-T.
The National Education Technology Standards for Teachers
Within the International Society for Technology Education’s (ISTE, 2008) National Education Technology Standards for teachers five performance indicators are identified. Each of these indicators relates to a different component of effective technology integration and instruction, and contains overall performance goals and evaluative criteria to measure proficiency and understanding. These NET standards (ISTE, 2008) feature performance indicator categories relating to teachers’ abilities to:
1. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
2. Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
3. Model Digital Age Work and Learning
4. Promote and Model Digital Citizenship and Responsibility
5. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
Through comparison and recognition of the NET standards teachers are better able to identify the qualities of effective instruction and then self-assess their own instructional proficiency and performance in the interest of identifying areas of personal strength and potential improvement. In reflecting on the NET standards in reference to my own teaching practice and the identifying of potential professional development goals, my energies this year will include purposeful action in relation to: Standard two, the design and development of digital learning experiences and assessments; and Standard five, engaging in professional growth and leadership.
Standard 2: Design and Develop Digital Age Learning Experiences and Assessments
Standard two is focused on teachers’ abilities to “design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes” (ISTE, 2008). In working to develop a self-directed GAME plan in relation to addressing this learning standard, Cennamo (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012c) observes how it is necessary to establish a learning goal; institute purposeful action to achieve this goal; monitor the progress and success of our actions; and finally evaluate our efforts and determine if we were successfully in achieving our targeted outcome. In following through this process I can ensure my efforts are effectively directed and consequently increase my chances of success. In looking at the NETS criteria for effective instruction within standard two the listed criteria contains many of the goals I have already targeted for myself within my personal professional growth plan in reference to instruction development.
In following Cennamo’s (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012b) GAME plan in establishing the personal goal of further developing and refining a technology-enriched environment, wherein there is consistent integration of digital resources into instruction, I have established a goal which will benefit my instruction and work to engage my students by providing opportunities for increased access and use of technology within lessons. In relation to direct actions in support of this goal I will continue to integrate new and innovative technologies into lessons; I will draw on the experience and expertise of colleagues and professional learning community members in the interest of gaining further insight into technological best practices; I will engage in professional activities and professional development sessions within and outside my division in addition to information gathered through online tutorials and courses (i.e. Masters program); lastly I will draw on the experience and knowledge of my students to direct my instructional energies towards newly emerging technologies and those which work to the strengths of my students. In terms of monitoring the success of my actions in relation to the establishing of a technology-enriched learning environment, the periodic review of planning; the collection of anecdotal observation of classroom activities, utilized assessments, and instructional settings; and the focused feedback of students and/or colleagues and parents will all provide information and aid in guiding the self-assessment and monitoring process. In terms of evaluation my students’ achievement in class will provide the evaluative evidence of whether or not I was successful in making, as Prensky (2008) notes, “education relevant to [my] students' lives and truly prepar[ing them]for the future” (p.45). Ultimately if, as Prensky (2008) further observes, my students are able to effectively demonstrate increased “computer and technology skills, critical thinking and problem solving, teamwork and collaboration, ethics and responsibility, and a sense of global awareness” (p.45) I will view my efforts in relation to NET standard two as having been successful.
Standard Five: Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership
In working to establish goals, initiate action, monitor learning, and then evaluate overall progress, Cennamo, Ross and Ertmer (2009) note how this self-directed learning process allows a person to “take control of [their]own learning” (p.7). Thus it is that my next professional learning goal will again follow this process, and is in relation to NET standard five and one’s ability to engage in professional growth and leadership. Standard five relates directly to a teacher’s commitment to continuously “improve their professional practice, model lifelong learning, and exhibit leadership in their school and professional community by promoting and demonstrating the effective use of digital tools and resources” (ISTE, 2008). I have long been a proponent of technology in the classroom and as such have worked to support colleagues’ integration efforts, technology initiatives, and the development of classroom learning resources. In establishing the goal of exhibiting greater technological leadership I will draw on my experiences, knowledge, and personal resources to “contribute to the effectiveness, vitality, and self renewal of the teaching profession and… [my] school and community” (ISTE, 2008). In terms of directed actions as a member of our school’s technology committee I will be in a position where I will be able to utilize my beliefs and confidence with technology to assist in generating what Ertmer (Laureate Education, Inc., 2012a) calls a supportive technology environment by working to develop in-school technology initiatives; promoting technology learning amongst staff through monthly technology sessions during staff meetings; and participation in division technology programs and resource development. In terms of monitoring this goal, the use of a professional journal would be most effective in terms of recording anecdotal information. By setting a weekly time period in which to reflect upon my recent activities I can assess the effectiveness of my actions and make adjustments if required. In addressing an overall evaluation of this goal a close comparison between my journal entries and the NET standards at the conclusion of the school year will highlight how closely (or not closely) my actions mirrored the expectations contained within the standard in effectively promoting the application of technology.
In conclusion the combined use of Net standards and GAME planning enables teachers, such as me, to reflect on their performance in relation to established standards and take meaningful action which allows teachers to, as Cennamo et al. (2009) highlights, “respond to…rapid and continuous technological changes…keep [their] skills up-to-date, and better meet the needs of [their]students today and in the future” (p.7).
Cennamo, K., Ross, J. & Ertmer, P. (2009). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach. (Laureate Education, Inc., Custom ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
International Society for Technology Education. (2008) National Education Technology Standards for Teachers (NETS-T). Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/Libraries/PDFs/NETS_for_Teachers_2008_EN.sflb.ashx
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2012a). Enriching Content Area Learning Experiences with Technology, Part 1 [Video webcast]. Integrating Technology Across Content Areas. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1374112_1%26url%3D
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2012b). Promoting Creative Thinking with Technology[Video webcast]. Integrating Technology Across Content Areas. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1374112_1%26url%3D
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2012c). Promoting Self-Directed Learning with Technology[Video webcast]. Integrating Technology Across Content Areas. Retrieved from https://class.waldenu.edu/webapps/portal/frameset.jsp?tab_tab_group_id=_2_1&url=%2Fwebapps%2Fblackboard%2Fexecute%2Flauncher%3Ftype%3DCourse%26id%3D_1374112_1%26url%3D
Prensky, M. (2008, March). Turning On the Lights. Educational Leadership.65(6), p40-45. Retrieved September 10, 2012 from Academic Search Complete database. ISSN: 00131784.