Purpose Statement

Ad mo ne o - Latin, verb. To admonish, advise, urge.

Here you'll find a review of what's happening in Utah government - state, counties, school boards, & cities, with a focus on education - as well as what Utah's U.S. Congressmen and Senators are doing. You'll get my take on it, find links to other sources of information, and find suggestions and contact info so you can DO something. Being involved in local government is key to maintaining freedom. Find something you can do and, no matter how small, DO IT! As British philosopher Edmund Burke said, "No man made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little."

Sunday, March 2, 2014

HB 131 - The "Nine Keys" to Successful Implementation

As discussion about HB 131, the bill to implement 1-to-1 mobile devices in Utah's public schools, continues on Capitol Hill, there has been mention of "doing the right things" in implementing such an initiative. To my knowledge, the specifics of these things haven't been thoroughly discussed publicly.

It appears a major driver - if not the main driver - behind this initiative is an organization called Project RED, so it's reasonable to conclude that the suggestions made by that organization for "doing the right things" are those to which legislators are referring. In the case of Project RED, it recommends "Nine Keys" to successful implementation of a 1-to-1 initiative.

For those skeptical about or opposed to the idea of local schools giving every child a tablet or laptop, these "right things" will likely confirm a sense of skepticism or opposition. For those supportive of local schools providing a device to every child, the "Nine Key Implementation Factors" may raise a bit of concern.

These Keys are discussed thoroughly in the document "The Technology Factor:
  1.  Intervention classes: Technology is integrated into every intervention class period.
  2. Change management leadership by principal: Leaders provide time for teacher professional learning and collaboration at least monthly.
  3. Online collaboration: Students use technology daily for online collaboration (games/simulations and social media).
  4. Core subjects: Technology is integrated into core curriculum weekly or more frequently.
  5. Online formative assessments: Assessments are done at least weekly.
  6. Student-computer ratio: Lower ratios improve outcomes.
  7. Virtual field trips: With more frequent use, virtual trips are more powerful. The best schools do these at least monthly.
  8. Search engines: Students use daily.
  9. Principal training: Principals are trained in teacher buy-in, best practices, and technology-transformed learning.
1. It would seem that more 1-on-1 teacher time would be more beneficial for a student in an intervention class than more 1-on-1 computer time.

2. It's highly troublesome that we are facilitating a "fundamental shift" in education, surrounded by an atmosphere of crisis and urgency that makes most people embrace such a shift. Why must teachers and principals, parents and lawmakers, always be marketed to under this new system? 

3. Are state leaders really advocating DAILY games and social media use by students as young as 1st grade? 

4. How will this look? Will students read books on tablets? Is this really the best use of technology, or the best thing for young developing eyes?

5. WEEKLY assessments?! Yikes! I recognize that they may be short and easily built in to the curriculum, but do we have to keep testing kids as if they're some sort of factory product in a quality control process? 

6. We're considering the lowest ratio possible.

7. This one isn't clear. Does it mean that 1.) visual field trips can be powerful if used frequently, or that 2.) the more a child uses a device, the more powerful a visual field trip is? The first - doing a virtual field trip once per month - sounds great. But the second doesn't. It would mean, "The less experience with the real world a child has, the more satisfied he is with just seeing pictures and movies about things."

8. DAILY search engine use? That would necessitate daily device use.

9. Once again, marketing to principals and teachers.

Perhaps I misunderstand what the "right steps schools need to take for proper implementation" are. If so, I welcome a correction. But it appears these 9 Keys will be part of a "successful implementation plan."

At the beginning of the referenced document, there is a featured quote: 
"Project RED is nothing less than a blueprint for remaking American education—second-order change—not through more or better testing, charter schools, longer school days, more or even better teachers, but through fundamentally altering how we do education, the first real change in the process of education itself in a thousand years."
So what is "second-order change?" 
Second-order change is deciding – or being forced – to do something significantly or fundamentally different from what we have done before. The process is irreversible: once you begin, it is impossible to return to the way you were doing before. (From the National Academy for Academic Leadership.)
Has the unique and transforming role of teachers changed so much; has the nature of children's development changed so much; has human nature changed so much; have the basic needs and goals of human existence changed so much, that we need to leave everything behind so that we can never return?

HB 131 has good intentions behind it, but at its core, it's "radical" change. It's expensive radical change. There are too many unknowns about the effect of so much tech use on children's development, and too many knowns about the interests driving this overhaul, and the cascade of other education overhauls we've seen in the past four years.

Let's put the brakes on this idea, step away from the fast-moving "gotta have tech now or the kids will all become panhandlers!" train, and put more focused thought into the proper role of technology in education.

1 comment:

  1. The question I have is, if everyone has a 1-to-1 device, do I, as a parent, have the ability of having my child NOT have a 1-to-1 device and to have an education outside of technology? (The answer, from personal experience already, is no.) And that is the real problem. Involving technology in the classroom isn't the overriding issue. To me, it's just another in a long series of the state deciding what is best for students and their education without respecting the 'primary' role of parents.