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Created By: Kienna Knowles

Course: EDUC-6661-T2004 Exploring New Technologies: The Impact on Society, Work and Education

Course Instructor: Evelyn Thompson

Outcome G5: Uses professional resources, including collegial shaing, for continued professional development.

Rationale:

Sharing and professional development are common practices among educators. Throughtout the Integrating Technology Into Curriculum program, learners shared their professional and personal educational experiences that served as resources for other learners in the program. Often throughtout weekly discussion postings and application assignments, learners shared many experiences and strategies taken from the various resources and professional development opportunities.

In this assignment, this learner shares how the district's technology plan provides professional development and resources that encouage and train Broward County Public School teachers for digital classrooms. In the assignment several resrouces and plans are shared to promote the technology intergation. More importantly, this district technology plan can serve as a template for other districts seeking to enhance technology literacy among teachers.

Title: School Board of Broward County: District Technology Plan

In an increasingly technology-driven world, technology is pervasive and creating changes on a global level in communications, economics, business enterprise, and everyday living (Dover, 2004 & Thornburg, 1998). New technologies raise great expectations. This learner believes that Education cannot afford to take a back seat to the rest of society. The exponential rate of technological advances demands that school districts prepare students for the future with the 21st century skills to access and evaluate information from a variety of digital sources (BCPS, 2007). The vision for Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) is to prepare students for the evolving and ever changing technology workplace while remaining dedicated to meeting the educational needs of all students in a safe learning environment (BCPS, 2007).

Broward County Public Schools is undergoing a remarkable transformation, and the goal is to close the gap between how students live and how they learn in school. This learner believes this is essential in order to provide equal opportunities for students as it becomes apparent that students without access to technology (at either school or at home) will be at a disadvantage in 21st century society (BCPS, 2007 & Dover, 2004). Therefore, providing students with routine and regular access to technology (both from school and home) must become an integral part of the all school district’s educational plan.

The Curriculum and Instruction/Student Support Division is responsible for with an Instructional Technology Plan. To implement this charge, an informal group called the Digital Natives was brought together to present ideas and recommendations that would assist Broward County Public Schools with implementing its vision (BCPS, 2007). As a team, the digital natives worked to address the following technology integration goals and objectives: planning and implementation; staff and community development; operational effectiveness, technology and infrastructure (BCPS, 2007).

Coordinating the goals and objectives, for technology planning and implementation, required the instructional technology team to establish regulations that are followed by each person in the district. Currently the district technology plan, includes the following goals and objectives for planning and implementation of technology (BCPS, 2007):

• All software, administrative and instructional, is evaluated and procured through a software evaluation process to ensure that customer needs, technology standards, and cost effectiveness are addressed.

• Increase the effectiveness of new technology initiatives throughout the district with a standard approval, planning, implementation, training, and evaluation process.

• Ensure that technical infrastructure and technical human resources continuously support the district’s current and future technology initiatives.

During recent school years, the BCPS began a district-wide push to have all schools use the same online grade book. As a result of a district pilot study, today all schools in BCPS are required to use and host Pinnacle, an online grade book that displays up to date (by the minute) grades, attendance, test scores, and school violations. With this program students, parents and teachers can track student progress at any moment via the Internet. In support of the Pinnacle program (and other technology programs offered by BCPS) each school is granted a Pinnacle technical support liaison (along with other technical liaison contacts). The Pinnacle liaison and other technical liaison personnel, receives a supplement for serving as the point person for their school. These liaisons address any Pinnacle or technical issues or concerns.

Often technology integration can be stifled by a lack of functional and technical preparedness. In this learner’s opinion, technology integration will remain a good theory (not executed) if teachers are not prepared. The success of any technology project or initiative is directly depended upon the staff being equipped with the skills and competencies to accomplish technology tasks (Thornburg, 1998 & BCPS, 2007). To ensure that staff members are prepared, Broward schools technology plan established the following goals and objectives (BCPS, 2007):

• All technology initiatives include a comprehensive training plan to ensure that the district teachers and staff are proficient technology users.

• Training is provided at various times and locations through a variety of formats and media

. • Best practices in Broward schools will be showcased and disseminated throughout the district.

• Adult/Workforce Education technology activities will expand and continue to be a priority within the district.

The Department of Instructional Technology facilitates a variety of programs and projects with the intent of supporting the integration of technology into teaching and learning. Atomic learner, BEEP and DETA are a few examples of how the district ensures staff development is frequently and easily assessable. The Atomic learner web site helps teachers and students learn how to use computer software commonly found in BCPS schools (BCPS, 2005). Broward Enterprise Education Portal (BEEP) is a secure, single point of access to digital resources for teaching and learning. BEEP allows teachers, students, administrators, and parents of BCPS to access current and relevant information focused on student achievement, academic performances, and instructional best practices (BCPS, 2007).

The Digital Education Teacher Academy (DETA) program is a series of staff development opportunities designed to provide teachers with skills for effectively integrating technology. Participants in DETA use technology to improve student achievement in core curriculum areas; learn strategies for integrating technology that can be incorporated into daily practice; and learn how to use new technologies such as Internet-based curriculum and digital tools (FAU, 2007). Additionally, participants in DETA create lessons or projects demonstrating the integration of digital strategies and resources into core curriculum areas; which then can become a best practice Unit or Lesson in (BEEP) (BCPS, 2007). Teachers that successfully complete the DETA session can serve as DETA coaches.

DETA Coaching: Creating 21st Century Classrooms builds on the process begun with DETA training courses. The goal of DETA Coaching is to develop a cadre of accomplished DETA teachers who coach and mentor peer teachers at their schools and throughout the district in enhancing standards-based instruction and professional practice with 21st century digital tools and strategies using technology (BCPS, 2007). As a DETA Coach, this learner along with others, develops personalized learning plans of professional development activities that meets the needs of her work site (Blanche Ely High School). At monthly DETA Coaching sessions, participants share strategies, ideas, and resources, and professional development activities with each other, and work on enhancing communication and collaboration skills for mentoring and supporting peers at their schools through a project-based approach.

Operational effectiveness (of technology) is crucial to any large organization (Dover, 2004). If multiple departments identify the same need and develop different strategies to address it, the results can lead to insufficient use of resources (time, money, and staff). The goal of the instruction technology department is to establish common and synchronized priorities and initiatives throughout the district. To ensure this takes place BCPS (2007) district plan states that:

• All technology initiatives align with the district operational and/or student achievement goals.

• All projects will include a comprehensive communication plan to inform all stakeholders prior to implementation.

• A comprehensive 3-5 year technology plan and budget (operational and capital) is updated annually.

Technology integration comprises a major part of the district budget (BCPS, 2007). Broward County Public Schools uses total cost of ownership approach to make technology-related decisions. A total cost approach includes training, support, and ongoing maintenance. To ensure that a total cost approach is followed the district has implement the following goals and objectives (BCSP, 2007):

• Achieve standardization of educational specifications for technology infrastructure, training, use, and support throughout the district.

• Develop and implement a district-wide instructional and technical support model.

• All users are able to access instructional and operational applications through an enterprise portal.

Generally speaking, the BCPS technology plan was established to provide objectives, goals and steps to assist in reaching the vision of empowering students to become lifelong learners capable of using technology for critical thinking, problem solving, virtual learning while increasing student achievement (BCPS, 2007). As a result of the technology plan implementation, currently all BCPS schools facilitate digital learning environments where teaching and learning (with technology) supports student achievement. Digital Learning Environments (DLE) were initiated to assist Broward County Public Schools (BCPS) implement its vision of empowering students to become lifelong learners capable of using technology in all aspects of life and learning. Broward County Public Schools (via DLE) seeks to find the synergy between the District Instructional Technology Plan and instructional practices that transform teaching and learning in Broward County Public Schools (BCPS, 2007).

Reference:

Broward County Public School (BCPS). (2007). SBBC Instructional Technology. Retrieved September 25, 2007, from http://www.broward.k12.fl.us/it/.

Broward County Public School (BCPS). (2005). Atomic Learner. Retrieved September 24, 2007, from http://broward.atomiclearning.com

Dover, K. (2004). Technology in Workplace Learning. Adult Education, (2)3. Retrieved September 26, 2007, from http://adulted.about.com/od/traininganddevelopment/a/simulations1.htm.

Florida Atlantic University (FAU). (2007) Digital Education Teacher Academy. Retrieved September 18, 2007, from http://www.coe.fau.edu/tlc/content/detindex.htm

Thornburg, D. D. (1998). Brainstorms and lightning bolts: Thinking skills for the 21st century. San Carlos, CA: Starsong Publications.