Over the course of my study at GCU I have had the opportunity to acquire foundational knowledge about educational technology, including methods of thought such as constructivism, connectivism, and TPACK. I have broadened my familiarity with different learning management systems, improved my lesson writing ability, created quality lesson plans for my classroom, and received countless resources, from articles to websites, to engage my colleagues and students.
I chose to interview several people about our district needs as well as about the needs of teaching professionals in general. My superintendent suggested I do something with our MAP (NWEA) data. However, this was mostly data entry.
Many of my staff members have identified teacher training as our most pressing need. Some of their responses included:
The biggest area of need is the application of the resources that are available online in the classroom.
From an educational profession view point the biggest need is in the area of using technology to replace face to face meetings. We have to make the technology easy enough to use to allow immediate communications with visual contact. We keep seeing the future of such communications but the reality is something else. Early versions required extensive training, schedules set long in avance and the results were less than satisfying. We still have AEA meetings for Superintendents, Principles, and guidance occurring 80 to 100 miles away on a regular basis. The students should leave high school with the ability to coordinate and execute successful business meetings without ever leaving the classroom.
The biggest area of need for educational technology in the classroom is providing more hands on materials for the students to use and training.
I think the biggest area(s) of need for educational technology in the professional setting is technology and computers that work quickly and training for teachers for beneficial educational support/supplements of the curriculum
I also thought about running a needs assessment for elementary social studies and developing a lesson plan database geared toward primary grades, but I'm not sure that's the type of project we're looking for here. This is something that one of my professional councils (Iowa Council for the Social Studies) inspired me to start working on.
Finally, I had some people on Twitter say that they think that training and understanding of how to use social media are essential to our profession. This happens to be my mentor’s area of expertise, and when I sat down to talk with him about my project ideas, he suggested that to a) really focus on the topic at hand, and b) really utilize him as a mentor, I needed to focus on social media and or professional development for my teachers.
Some of the specific areas I thought about focusing on were social studies technology, educational gaming, blended learning, social media, professional development, and student involvement. These are all very important to me and I hope to work small components of many of them into my work.
Instead of doing specifically the NETS standards, I chose to use the Iowa Core Curriculum technology standards. These were built with NETS in mind, but apply more directly to the standards that I, as a teacher in the state of Iowa, must adhere to. The Iowa Core technology standards for the grades I teach are as follows:
1. Demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
2. Use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
3. Apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
4. Demonstrate critical thinking skills using appropriate tools and resources to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions.
5. Understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
6. Demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems and operations.
I believe that I could really apply standards one, two, four, and six into any of the lines that my project seems to be following. I believe I am beginning to see a clear picture in my head for the project that will most address the needs and interests that I have identified.