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Monograph series Volume V, Number 4

Issues
Executive Summary

To order a complete copy of the monograph, send Shannon Horn an e-mail

Issue Area One: How Will the Increasing Use of Technology in Schools Change How, Where, and What Students Will Learn?
Issue Area Two: How Will Schools Work with Communities/Businesses in Development of Technology for Education?
Issue Area Three: How Will Funding that Keeps Pace with New and Expanding Technology be Ensured?
Issue Area Four: In What Ways Will Technology Change the Role of Teachers?
Issue Area Five: How Will We Prepare Educators to Fully Utilize Available Technology?
Issue Area Six: How Should the Increasing Use of Technology Be Integrated Into a A School's Planning Process for School Improvement?
Issue Area Seven: How Do We Assess the Impact of Technology on Student Achievement?
Issue Area Eight: How Can Schools Ensure Equal Access and Opportunities for Every Student to Learn Through Technology?

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Executive Summary
Dave Else
Director

Educational technology may be a "fairy godmother" or the "boogy man" depending upon individual teacher understanding of its potential and skill in utilization of new models of teaching and learning. In reality it may be neither. Rather it is an excellent learning tool that holds great promise for expanding the walls of the learning community and meeting the changing needs of future generations.

 If we believe information is valuable, and it is, students have access to seemingly limitless information through the World Wide Web and linkages with experts in a variety of fields via e-mail. Some certainly see this technology as information overload with little control over what students access. They argue that countless hours are lost as students sit transfixed sifting through information that may have questionable value. Likewise, "virtual teaching (using technology) may result in virtual learning--a situation in which the instruction nor the learning connects with reality" (Hurst, 1995, p. 12). Others "translate access to vast archives of information into personal knowledge . . ." (Dede in O'Neil, 1995, p. 8). Information accessed through technology can stimulate further investigation, learner collaboration, and knowledge construction (O'Neil).

 Schools are increasing their acquisition of and access to numerous technologies. The United States Office of Technology Assessment (OTA) released the findings of a comprehensive federal study, Teachers and Technology: Making the Connection, April 3, 1995. The OTA found that "schools access to various technologies is rising steadily" (O'Neil, 1995, p. 10). However, the utilization of technology is quite traditional:  

The most common uses of technology today are the uses of video for presenting information, the use of computers for basic skills practice at the elementary and middle school levels, and the use of word processing and other generic programs for developing computer-specific skills in middle and high schools.

 There are likely several school- and district-specific reasons why schools are not fully utilizing technology to design new models of teaching and learning. OTA suggests: schools are not sufficiently stocked, powered, or wired; most teachers have not had adequate training; there is limited time for teachers to discover the use of technology; and perhaps most importantly, educators lack a vision and clear understanding of the role technology plays in the learning community (O'Neil, 1995). 

While Iowa students do well on standardized tests, the use of technology doesn't fare so well. In Iowa, 95% of the high schools score above the national median on the Iowa Tests of Educational Development. Iowa juniors and seniors taking the American College Testing exam traditionally place Iowa first or second in the nation, and the dropout rate among Iowa students in grades 7-12 continues its decline (Personal communication, Iowa Association of School Boards, December 27, 1995). However, Iowa ranks 9th in the use of cable television, 15th in the use of videodisc technology, and 21st in the use of satellite television (Iowa Department of Education, 1994).

 In 1993-94, the per pupil expenditure for software in Iowa was $8, down from $11 per pupil in 1992-93. Hardware per pupil expenditure was $41, up $12 from the 1992-93 expenditure of $29 per pupil (Iowa Department of Education, 1995). The total hardware/software per pupil expenditure of $49 in 1993-94 represents slightly more than 1% of the state average general operating fund expenditure of $4,406 per served pupil in 1993-94 (Iowa Department of Education, 1994). Although a dismal financial commitment to computer technology, it is understandable when we consider that Iowa schools, on average, allocated nearly 82% of their budgets to salaries and benefits. They simply do not, in many cases, have general fund dollars available for technology.

 In an effort to address these issues, to build a knowledge base relative for using technology as a teaching and learning tool, and to use the knowledge base to recommend support for Iowa schools and communities, and ultimately, to increase student achievement, the Institute for Educational Leadership, at the University of Northern Iowa, hosted a working conference titled, "An Iowa Dialogue on Issues Surrounding Utilization of Technology in Schools." The conference was co-sponsored by the Area Education Agency Media Directors, Iowa Department of Education, Center for Educational Technology at UNI, Iowa Association School Boards, Iowa State Education Association, Rural Schools of Iowa, School Administrators of Iowa, and the Iowa Telecommunication Council. Eighty K-12 teachers, administrators, school board members, community leaders, and college and university faculty/administrators met for a three-day conference on the UNI campus. Five-member teams from one district in each of Iowa's 15 AEAs were invited. These districts were selected based on their leadership in utilization of educational technology.

 Each participant self-selected into 1 of 8 issue area groups for in-depth dialogue:

  1. How Will the Increasing Use of Technology in Schools Change How, Where, and What Students Will Learn?
  2. How Will Schools Work with Communities/Businesses in Development of Technology for Education?
  3. How Will Funding that Keeps Pace with New and Expanding Technology be Ensured?
  4. In What Ways Will Technology Change the Role of Teachers?
  5. How Will We Prepare Educators to Fully Utilize Available Technology?
  6. How Should the Increasing Use of Technology be Integrated into a School's Planning Process for School Improvement?
  7. How Do We Assess the Impact of Technology on Student Achievement?
  8. How Can Schools Ensure Equal Access and Opportunities for Every Student to Learn Through Technology?  

Each participant was invited to write a position paper on the issue area selected. Papers were submitted prior to the conference, copied, and sent to participants in the same area issue group.

 This monograph includes participants' position papers and the consensus reports developed by the eight issue area groups during the three-day conference and written by each group's facilitator(s). While you are encouraged to read the entire published monograph for greater detail and understanding, the following issue area recommendations are presented to highlight the best thinking of conference participants. 

How Will the Increasing Use of Technology in Schools Change How, Where, and What Students Will Learn?

Increased use of technology in schools will result in continuous access to learning creating a "perpetual teachable moment." Individualization and personalization of instruction that supports personal learning styles will move to the forefront. Teachers will become greater processors of information while their role as providers of information will diminish. Learning systems in the home will support learning systems in school. The culture of schools will change as learning communities evolve.

 Recommendations  

  • It is essential that schools and communities move toward total interconnection, including workstations for every student, teacher, administrator, and student home as well as workstations throughout the community.
  • Curriculum should be developed to emphasize problem solving, communication skills, advanced literacy, decision making, group interaction, social skills, and self-directed learning.
  • A learning culture needs to be encouraged and nurtured to create meaningful and relevant connections, produce group and individual learning through cooperation, and help students produce a variety of outcomes as information is made available with continuous feedback.  

How Will Schools Work with Communities/Businesses in Development of Technology for Education?

School districts must take the initiative in developing mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses and the community. As schools develop technology plans, they will be well-served to establish mutually beneficial, cooperative processes that acknowledge the unique expertise and roles of their business and community partners.

 Recommendations

  • Ongoing dialogue which communicates the participants' needs, ideas, influences, and objectives needs to be fostered.
  • To completely identify resources, school/business/community partners will benefit from (a) taking an inventory of resources which will influence the cooperative venture; (b) recognize individuals who will make a positive impact on the development and maintenance of a successful program; and (c) distinguish school, community, and business leaders who represent the interests, entities, and values necessary for a partnership to work effectively.
  • School/business/community partners must identify needs and clarify who has what needs.
  • All parties to the partnership will more fully support one another when benefits of the partnership are identified. Identification of benefits will help in the assessment of participation.
  • A review process that encompasses evaluation and provides opportunities for revision and improvement ought to be in place. 

How Will Funding that Keeps Pace with New and Expanding Technology be Ensured?

The American Association of School Administrators (AASA) invited 55 advisers representing business, education, government, psychology, sociology, anthropology, and demography to name the most important knowledge, skills, and behaviors students will need in the 21st century. The Council of 55 also was asked what changes citizens and government must make to ensure our nation's children are prepared for the 21st century. The Council made several suggestions to the second question: "Number one for citizens: Commit tax dollars as a long-term investment. View children as an investment not a cost. Number two for government: Commit funding for education" (Uchida, 1996, p. 51).

 A foundation of state funding is essential if educational technology is to be equitably accessible to every student. And the funding must be made a part of a long-term annual financial support. Combined with community commitment of dollars and human resources, schools will be in position to provide "electronic tools and training necessary to assist learners to access, communicate, manipulate, apply, and use information."

 Recommendations  

  • Resolving the critical issue of equity requires state funding following the well-established precedent of a per pupil funding mechanism. This long-standing tradition of per pupil funding should be followed to maintain an equitable level of educational technology in each classroom accessible by each student.
  • State funding for educational technology must be deposited in a separate special revenue fund designated for educational technology uses. In 1996 through 1998, state funding per pupil should be set at $90 with $60 per pupil each year thereafter. This will allow meaningful integration of educational technology into the current education program.
  • To go beyond the core level of per pupil educational technology funding, the state should also look to other sources such as lottery proceeds and possible sales tax to fund technology.
  • Law changes need to be implemented to expand the use of Phase III dollars for educational technology incentives and for buying staff time.
  • Per pupil weighting for hiring jointly employed technology coordinators is recommended to assist school districts in advancing educational technology.
  • A local funding option of property tax and income surtax in an amount not to exceed $1.00 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation authorized by the legislature during the 1996 General Assembly is encouraged.
  • Schools need to consider reallocating current funding dollars when setting priorities in the budget/technology planning process.
  • It is important for school districts to research funding sources, cooperative purchasing opportunities, and current providers of services to ensure the best buy for their money and to avoid duplication of effort.
  • School districts are encouraged to build business partnerships to sponsor classroom workstations, a portion of a computer system, or a computer lab. Schools are also encouraged, as a part of the partnership, to make facilities available to businesses and community members.
  • School districts must work closely with their communities and legislators to develop an understanding of the need for educational technology and build support for funding. 

In What Ways Will Technology Change the Role of Teachers?

Just as technology is not a cure all for teaching and learning, technology in isolation is not likely to change the role of the teacher. When combined with new teaching and learning models, it may well alter the role of the teacher.

 Through the integration of educational technology as a learning tool, teachers will become facilitators of student-centered learning; move to a more collaborative role within the classroom and community; and will work to adapt to societal shifts and more readily respond to the growing body of knowledge on learning.

 Recommendations  

  • Teachers must have immediate access to current technological resources.
  • Teachers must be provided with time for planning, collaboration, and implementation of educational technology.
  • Teachers should be provided with ongoing, organized staff development and technical support.
  • Teachers will benefit from the freedom to experiment in a climate that fosters risk taking. 

How Will We Prepare Educators to Fully Utilize Available Technology?

There are two dangers when addressing an issue such as teacher utilization of technology. The first is that technology will become a bigger than life entity and end product standing alone. Conversely, the second danger is that technology may be diminished and trivialized to the level of mere gizmos and gadgets. Technology is a tool, both as a physical structure and as a method of structuring knowledge and know-how. Therefore, preparing teachers to fully utilize technology must include both a broad, philosophical adjustment in teacher thinking, attitude, and practices and specific skills-training and practice opportunities. The following recommendations attempt to reflect this tenuous balance between overall educator preparation and development and specific skill- training in use of technology tools.

 Recommendations  

1.  For "cultivation of an educational environment" schools need to:  

  • Hire school personnel who exemplify the qualities of initiative and innovation and who believe that all children must learn;
  • Provide an opportunity for recognition of success through rewards and incentives;
  • Provide and encourage professional growth opportunities through school visitations, conference and workshop attendance, sharing professional publications, and networking with others; and
  • Create and sustain an atmosphere of trust, value of others, honesty, mutual respect, support, and preservation

2.  For "systemic change in the school culture" schools should:  

  • Prepare/educate personnel to understand the change process and their role in it;
  • Develop a decision-making process which allows for the free exchange of information including: site-based decision-making, involvement of stakeholders, teaming, and collaboration;
  • Apply the decision-making process to change the school culture; and
  • Make a paradigm shift to schools as centers for life-long learning.

3.  For continuous growth supported by developmentally-appropriate training schools ought to:  

  • Provide basic instruction on the use of hardware and software when needed;
  • Train staff to recognize when and where technology tools and resources should be utilized;
  • Train teachers to infuse technology into their curriculum;
  • Implement a training model of theory, demonstration, practice, feedback, and coaching;
  • Use a variety of strategies to encourage professional growth;
  • Establish and maintain a partnership between K-12 and higher education institutions to insure constant reformation of pre-service and graduate programs in the use of technology; and
  • Petition the Department of Education Licensure and Certification Bureau to require technology training for recertification.

4.  For the allocation of resources of availability, access, and time schools must:  

  • Make technology available to every classroom;
  • Utilize site-based decision-making so that stakeholder teams develop technology plans, develop inservices, make technology funding decisions, and provide incentives to infuse technology; and
  • Request time-commitment from all stakeholders. 

How Should the Increasing Use of Technology be Integrated into a School's Planning Process for School Improvement?

A vision of what schools ought to be and systemic change are terms often associated with planning for school improvement. Vision is what people in a school and community believe their schools can and should become. Systemic means working with every aspect of the school system and finding interconnections that support student learning (Holzman, 1993). Technology planning should not exist in isolation; rather, it should be integrated into the system planning process.

 Recommendations  

  • Technology planning should be a part of the school system's improvement goals.
  • There needs to be an identifiable purpose for technology in the school.
  • Technology planning needs to be tied to student achievement.
  • Various stakeholders need to be involved in planning.
  • Teacher training is a necessary part of technology planning.
  • Local budget priorities need to be secured to the planning process.
  • "Best practices" gleaned from research need to guide planning.
  • The integration of technology planning in the school planning process should focus on the unique contributions of technology.
  • Elements of the school planning process should include local and state support. 

How do We Access the Impact of Technology on Student Achievement?

As noted earlier, schools are increasing their acquisition of and access to numerous technologies. Emphasis has been placed on funding, equity, teacher training, changing roles, and planning for implementation. However, if our ultimate goal is to raise student achievement through utilization of technology in new teaching and learning models, schools must be able to access the impact of technology on student achievement. An action research model is recommended as a way to organize a variety of assessments to study which technologies are most effective in enhancing student learning. Assessments include student, teacher, parent perceptions; and observable behaviors and results on criterion referenced, norm-referenced, and performance-based tests, portfolios, and authentic assessment.

 Recommendation:  

  • Before assessing the impact of technology on student achievement, schools must decide what students should know and be able to do.
  • After student performance objectives are identified, strategies for working with students should be determined. Recommendations can be made about what technologies to use as learning tools and what kinds of indicators will be accepted as evidence that technology is having a positive impact.
  • Schools can use assessment data already available, determine how it fits in assessing the impact of technology on student achievement, and determine what additional information needs to be collected.
  • Comparisons of student performance can be made with predicted rates of progress of students, with benchmark performances of like-aged students, or with research literature.
  • Perceptions of students, teachers, and parents should be checked through surveys, interviews, and focus groups.
  • By studying data from various assessments, judgments can be made relative to whether students achieve at desired levels, what factors influence their achievement, and which curricular areas benefit from the use of technology. 

How Can Schools Ensure Equality of Access and Opportunities for Every Student to Learn Through Technology?

A basic premise of education in America is that all students be offered the opportunity to learn through a system of free public education. All states ave struggled with funding mechanisms to ensure equity of opportunity. Equity of access becomes a major issue when considering the use of technology to advance student learning.

 Recommendations  

  • The Department of Education should mandate (with funding) that every school district have a technology plan with a definite implementation process which includes minimum standards for students.
  • Within each district's plan, there must be evidence of equity of access to technology for all students.
  • For a district to maintain equity of access to technology, significant training must be done for all instructional staff.
  • Through released time, scheduled staff development time, and/or additional contract days, time for staff to use various technologies needs to be provided.
  • Instructional staff and students need to be able to access technologies easily without rearranging schedules or redesigning their day.
  • For a school district to maintain equity of access to technology, coordination and technology support must be in place. A district technical support person to trouble-shoot systems and answer technical questions and a coordinator of technology to drive the technology plan will help ensure that all students have equity of access to educational technology. Funding for these positions is recommended in Issue Area Three.
  • To guarantee equity of access to technology and opportunities for students, the state and local districts should provide adequate funding as outlined in the funding section of this summary.
Educational technology holds great promise for the students of Iowa. However, learning communities that fully utilize educational technology will not develop by chance. Careful school/community planning that addresses the critical issues identified in this working conference are essential for success. Such planning will place Iowa students at the forefront of a society that is rapidly becoming technology based.
Resource List
  • Holzman, M. (1993). What is systemic change? Educational Leadership, 51(1), 18.
  • Hurst, D. (1995, October). [Review of the book Silicon snake oil]. Educational Leadership, 53(2), 12.
  • Iowa Department of Education. (1995). The annual condition of education report. Des Moines: Author.
  • Iowa Department of Education. (1994a). Fiscal year 1993-94 certified annual report financial analysis of the general operating fund. Des Moines: Author.
  • Iowa Department of Education. (1994b). The annual condition of education report. Des Moines: Author.
  • Iowa Association of School Boards. (1995, December). Report profiles Iowa education. IASB Update, 28(27). Des Moines: Author.
  • O'Neil, J. (1995). On technology and schools: A conversation with Chris Dede. Educational Leadership, 53(2), 6-12.
  • O'Neil, J. (1995b). Teachers and technology: Potential and pitfalls. Educational Leadership, 53(2), 10-11.
  • Uchinda, D. (1996). Preparing students for the 21st century. Arlington, VA: American Association of School Administrators

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