What is the impact?
Being the Technology Director
I am the technology director and an educator at Prince of Peace Catholic School. Recently, I was asked about the impact of technology on my own life. The photo above is my professional world, which is brimming with technology, for which I am responsible. Visit the link to thinglink.com to see details about the tech at my school. The real impact of technology in my life has been personal.
Learning is an unending process. Having technology resources helps. I can hardly even remember how I gathered information “back in the day”. Resources were only available on paper or in the minds of people with experience. Problem solving was a skill that defined one’s value on the job. At times I worry that the internet is reducing society’s reliance on thinking, making everyone equally valuable – or not.
Thinking is the fundamental process that helps us develop the discipline and patience many older adults (non-digital natives) feel is missing in education. Thinking is the basis of problem solving. It’s also hard work. What I have learned over the years is that finding resources may be easier with technology but knowing what to do with them still requires some know-how.
The Role of Resources
In my work I am surrounded by devices I don’t completely understand and have had little training about. Not knowing the answers about technology helps me remember how my teachers and students feel. Thankfully, every possible thought I’ve had about technology has already been documented digitally and is freely accessible online. My challenge (my job) is to interpret the world of technology and its endless resources, and create simple instructions so teachers and students have turnkey solutions for their every-day problems.
To stay afloat, I’ve crafted a plan to empower teachers and students so they can rely on technology the way I do. I can’t accomplish my work without help. I use resources, too. I expect my future in technology education will be more about the theory behind changing how students learn than the technology tools educators use day-to-day. The most important resource I have isn’t actually about technology. It’s a learning model (COVA learning model (2017)), which I introduced to my school not long ago.
I believe the model is the basis of how to promote technology-based, self-directed learning. COVA (choice, ownership, voice, and authentic environment), championed by Drs.’s Harapnuik and Thibodeaux at Lamar University in Texas, is a compilation of principles that I believe drive self-directed learning in organizations.
Its parts have always been in the hearts and minds of our school leaders and teachers, but together, the model gives structure to our growth through our use of technology. It’s one of my most valuable resources. It transcends our devices, even the internet, because without the proper mindset about learning, no one will have the courage to change how students think about the resources currently at their fingertips.
As the roles of teachers move toward facilitation in support of student-centered instruction, I have found COVA to reveal the natural leadership traits teachers bring to the classroom, urging them to use their judgement and experience to lead students in becoming self-directed learners themselves. The model is built on a premise of trust, and begins with admitting the world is too big to teach about from a single point of reference. It is the epi-center of my technology landscape.
My learning landscape, both personal and professional, is full of resources, and relationships with people are at the top of the list. I rely on the knowledge and skill of other teachers, other schools, and even other businesses.
I follow local and national technology leaders; for example @Jennifer_Hogan on Twitter, a local tech leader in the Hoover, Alabama public school district, where my private school is located. I can easily meet with her in person, banter about ideas, and take advantage of her experience in the industry and as an administrator. She also has a national presence, on #ALedchat, where I can hear from other education technology thought leaders, like @alicekeeler, a national Google Classroom expert, and visiting guest on her Twitter chats. They are two among many people who help me keep up with trends and avoid making costly mistakes.
I rely on websites like Commonsencemedia.org, ISTE , EdWeb.net, to help me focus on target areas, like integrating tech in lesson planning, and living as a good digital citizen so I can confidently teach other. Vendor partners such as CDW-G Education and magazines including Tech & Learning and Today’s Catholic Teacher all add to my repository of ways to stay current, keep up with trends, and capitalize on opportunities.
Contributing VS Consuming
My contributions as a public leader in technology are less than my consumptions, but I am a key contributor on a smaller, local level. What I provide is less about technology and more about the theory of learning in a knowledge-based society where dependancy on technology is at an all time high. My efforts influence a host of people on the front lines of education. I have provided them with the vision for thinking outside of the educational box by setting the groundwork. Resources including Schoology.com and Google Classroom are now my teachers’ go-to sites, which I have filled with exactly what they need to be successful in our learning environment.
It’s a challenge to keep up, let alone stay ahead. I no longer spend time recreating the digital wheel. I don’t contribute media to be shared like many people do. When I need to help someone, I look to others who are better skilled and offer their works free of charge, so I can easily and quickly connect the learner with the needed instruction.
YouTube resources by Anson Alexander, explain “how” to use technology, and YouTube resources like TED Talks, explain why we need to change how we deliver education. I leave you with another of the many resources I subscribe to, Veritasium, and a video called The Science of Thinking. Soon, educators will be just another resource in the learning continum – as it should be.
Harapnuik, D. (2017, April 15). COVA Model. It’s About Learning: Creating significant learning environments. Retrieved from http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=6615