THE Journal: NAEP Gets It One-Third Right

Today the THE Journal editor Geoff Fletcher published an editorial, NAEP Gets It One-Third Right, which opens, “WATCH OUT, tech directors. A train wreck is coming your way and you’re sure to receive some collateral damage.” (Read the rest…)

I’m not going to comment on this right now and here’s why. For the past year, I’ve been on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Technology Literacy Assessment planning committee. (See my post NAEP Technology Assessment 2012.) The first phase of writing the framework (which is where my committee contributed) is almost complete. Our final meeting will be next week. Now others will take the framework and turn it into an assessment.

At the first meeting, I asked about blogging along the way, without revealing personal things or anything still in draft form. I was told that this would be detrimental to the process. After some discussion, I agreed not to do it. Although I felt (and still feel) that openness is the best policy, I also felt that this “was not the hill to die on.”

Last month, a discussion draft of the framework was released for public comment. This Ed Week article contains a link to the draft.

Like I said, I’m not going to comment on the draft framework or the THE Journal editorial right now. I made a promise to keep my thoughts and comments within the committee and I intend to keep that promise. However, when I can, I’ll share my thoughts more publicly.

Your comments are welcome.


Successful, sustainable strategies for technology integration and tech support in a tough economy

This weekend I’ll be in San Diego as an invited speaker at the National School Board Association (NSBA) conference. I’m not sure I realized how relevant it would be when I proposed Successful, Sustainable Strategies for Technology Integration and Tech Support in a Tough Economy as my topic last year.

I’ll be focusing on 5 strategies that create strong local communities of practice around the use of technology. All of these strategies include students as part of the solution. They are:

  • Technology literacy for all – Creating an expectation that modern technology will be used for academics, schoolwork, communication, community outreach, and teaching. A key success factor is teaching students how to support their peers as mentors and leaders.
  • Student tech teams – The 21st century version of the old A/V club, this strategy expands the definition of tech support from fixing broken things to also include just-in-time support of teachers as they use new technology. This digital generation is ready, willing and able to help improve education, we just need to show them how.
  • Professional development 24/7 – The old idea that teachers would go off to one workshop or a conference and immediately start using technology has been proven wrong. Truly integrated technology use requires a bigger change than that, and it doesn’t happen overnight. Teachers require more support in their classrooms that they can count on when they need it. Students can help provide teachers with this constancy and supportive community.
  • Students as stakeholders – Whenever schools initiate new technology programs, there is typically a call for all stakeholders to be included. Parents, teachers, staff, board members, and members of the community are invited to participate — but rarely students. Even though students are 92% of the population at the school, and are 100% of the reason for wanting to improve education, their voice goes unheard. Students can bring passion and point-of-view to the planning and implementation of major technology initiatives. They can be allies and agents of change, rather than passive objects to be changed.
  • Students as resource developers – Students can help develop the resources every teacher and student needs to use technology successfully. These resources can be help guides, posters, instructional videos, school websites, or teacher home pages. Students of all types can use their talents to build customized resources for their own school. Artists, actors, and techies can contribute to this process.

Building a self-sufficient community of technology users means that whenever possible, you build home-grown expertise and local problem-solving capability. This is the high-tech equivalent of a victory garden, only with teachers and students all growing their own capabilities with each other’s help.

In this tough economy, no one can afford to ignore the potential students have to help adults solve the problems of technology integration and support. Students are there, they just need adults to teach them how to help, and then allow them to help.

And after all, aren’t these the 21st century skills everyone talks about? Like solving real problems, learning how to learn, collaboration, and communication? How real is the problem of technology integration, and how foolish of us to overlook students as part of the solution, especially when the reciprocal benefits to the students are so great.


PS – For a look at how these strategies can be applied in laptop schools, download my new whitepaper – Student Support of Laptop Programs. (16 page PDF)

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NAEP Technology Assessment 2012

I’ve just found out I’m going to be part of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Technology Assessment development (see the E-school News story: On the way: Nation’s first tech-literacy exam: Tech literacy to be added to Nation’s Report Card beginning in 2012).

The recent NAEP developed assessments for science and math have generally been well received, and I’m looking forward to being a part of the effort to create something similar for technology literacy. Of course I’m curious to see how this will play out, since technology literacy is not a subject or a discipline like math or science.

I’m hoping that part of the solution will be to increase opportunities for students to study real engineering, design and programming in K-12. My background as an electrical engineer is no doubt part of that hope.

There are two committees working on these frameworks, a steering committee and a planning committee. I’m on the planning committee. The first meeting is next week in Washington, DC, and I’ll know a lot more after that. One question I will definitely ask is how transparent the process will be. The last NAEP assessment planning was done before blogs became as ubiquitous as they are now. The eschool news story says there will be public input and hearings, and an extensive review process. Let’s hope this extends out as far as the net reaches.

Update – I’ve been asked to remove the names of the committee members for now…

Stay tuned! – Sylvia