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JSD tech: Curriculum must assess student tech skills

Posted: Thursday, March 10, 2011

In 21st-century classrooms, students are coming in with tech knowledge that surpasses most of their teachers, yet they have yet to learn to use it in practical, educational ways.

On Wednesday, the Juneau School District held two public forums addressing how technology is currently used in the district, and their goals for the next three years.

John Wahl, instructional technology coordinator, and Phil Gouveia, information technology supervisor, reviewed the two tech policies in place: www.juneau.org/board/policy1530 and www.juneau.org/board/policy/1540.

Those polices address access by minors to inappropriate content; unauthorized access and/or hacking; unauthorized disclosure, use and dissemination of information regarding minors and safety and security of minors.

Assistant Superintendent Laury Scandling said students are coming to school with devices like smart phones that don’t have to use the district’s network, which filters and restricts access of inappropriate content. She asked what policies the district had in place to address activities in school outside the school’s network, such as sexting and other explicit activities.

Wahl said district policies have not yet been updated to include rules on that, however part of the purpose of the forum was to get community feedback on such a policy update and send it to the policy committee. The district would not be able to filter access on those devices, but he believes the student usage of the internet on those devices, while in school, should fall under the district rules, he said.

The goals for how technology should be used for student achievement are increasing. When computer technology first came into schools, it was gained and used for the sake of having technology.

Wahl said that should be the foundation — learning the technology. However, the more important things curriculum needs to use technology for are creativity and innovation, communication and collaboration, research and information fluency, critical thinking problem solving and decision making and digital citizenship.

Wahl said they are aligning the plan with the International Society for Technology in Education’s standards for digital age learning.

He said the goal is to have that plan adopted and in next year’s curriculum — or at least a phase-in plan approved for next year.

“Right now our technology curriculum is integrated, and there is no way of knowing where students are on that,” he said. “It would be student-centered. Students who really want to get to the next level, can see ‘what can I do to do that?’”

Communications manager Kristin Bartlett said she imagines students are coming into the district already pretty fluent in technology.

Wahl said they’re fluent in using it, but not fluent in using the knowledge they learn in school and expressing it in a meaningful way. He said one part of that problem can be in restricting access — students can become disengaged if they’re restricted from learning from or with some kinds of technology.

Another curriculum tech goal is to integrate it into the core math and literacy standards with world-class goals in mind in order to raise student achievement. Wahl plans to do that by aligning the available technology and online resources to the adopted core math and literacy standards. It would also utilize the JSD website as a “hub” for dissemination of resources and offer more Web 2.0 tools, such as blogging and wiki capabilities to collaborate and develop resources within the Professional Learning Community framework for raising student achievement.

Another goal is to achieve an upward trend in student achievement on the Alaska Standards Based Assessment and larger growth gains will be seen in the Measure of Academic Progress (MAPs) assessment for all students.

Communications goals with technology in the district include having the network services and building infrastructure with a sufficient mechanism for planning and providing access to information from local and global sources, and through the input of the technology committee, determine intermediate and final benchmarks for acceptable classroom access to internet content (use of videos and audio streams).

They also discussed professional development with technology, using students in that process and developing a funding plan for equipment replacement.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.



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