Implementing a New Digital Literacy Initiative

Presentation at Alaska School Leadership Institute, Festival of Ideas 2012

Click here to see the video interview
Click here to see the conference write-up

Text of Narration for Slideshow

Slide 2: Alaska Gateway School District
AGSD Serves 400 students in seven communities.

All schools are on the road system. Eagle is a fly-in site for seven months of the year.

Tok School is 50% of the district’s population.

60%of the students in the district are Alaska Native.

Slide 3: Issues
Tok School was part of the CSE 1:1 laptop initiative in 2006. Every middle school student received a laptop that they could take home. Teachers were given some training. Gradually over the next 4 years, technology was integrated more into some of the content classes. During the 4th year, students entering 9th grade took their laptops with them into high school – the plan was to begin to expand the program into the high school. Although knowledge was growing, integration was not widespread across the content areas, and in the classes where it was being used, more and more class time was being taken up just to teach the technology. Although other teachers were interested in integrating, they were dissuaded by how much instruction was needed for this. What was happening at Tok School, and the steps being taken with integration were not happening across the rest of the district.

AGSD needed a coherent, district-wide strategy for technology integration into daily learning.

The district has a technology course as a graduation requirement. The goal was to develop a separate technology class. The goals for the course were two-fold:

1. It would better prepare students to integrate technology into their daily learning.

2. Help teachers maximize instructional time in the classroom by teaching content instead of technology skills.

We believed that students needed to develop a set of technology skills in middle school in order to fully utilize those skills for learning in high school.

Slide 5: Vision
Improve student learning through seamless technology integration.

Make technology use transparent across the school.

Integrate technology use so it became the way we teach and learn.

Build on the idea that technology is a natural tool for students

Utilize technology to help students learn to collaborate and become more creative.

Slide 6: Challenges
Finding funding.

Convincing the administration and school board that technology integration was necessary.

Making the decision to adopt iPads for use in middle school.

Slide 7: Phases
Lots of talk, reading, and research highlighting the benefits and challenges. Components being considered for the course were already being tried out within certain content classes.

Used strong advocates to build interest and excitement.

Writing the course made it real and provided opportunities for buy-in.

Securing and allocating mobile resources made it concrete.

Slide 8: Sustaining momentum
Momentum existed because of 1:1 laptop initiative.

High degree of trust among staff – strong teacher models existed.

Solid support from families who could see it making a difference with their kids.

Teachers could see that students were prepared to integrate technology and they liked that they could teach content – not tech skills.

Slide 10: Evidence
Use of NextGen as an assessment tool of general knowledge about using technology.

Tok School outpaced other schools in the district almost 2:1 due to the 1:1 laptop initiative.

Websites with student work – digital portfolios, wikis, online documents.

Slide 11: Impact on teachers
Produced more collaboration among teachers as they sought ways to improve, refine, and better integrate technology.

Teachers relieved because it took pressure off of them to teach technology skills rather than content.

More evidence of technology use across the school.

Helped refocus instructional meetings to topics about technology integration across the content areas.

Slide 12: Impact on students
Students transferring learning from technology course into core subject areas.

Students stretching boundaries of how to incorporate technology.

Postings are in the public domain – students have set a higher standard for what they post.

Students can track number and location of people who have viewed their work – this has become a badge of honor.

Students becoming interested in technology because of what they had learned – this led to an impetus for a new technology strand in the high school next year.

Slide 14: Leadership Actions
Garnered support from central administration and school board.

Purposeful about intended use being for teaching and learning.

Developed parallel technology course for teachers.

Staff training for implementation helped prepare teachers for integrating technology.

Expectation that learning from the course would transfer to other classes.

Provided the resources so people couldn’t complain that they did not have what they needed.

Expectation that this effort will go district-wide in the future.

Slide 16: Lessons Learned
Nothing with technology is static. Classes must be continually updated and there must be flexibility within the course.

Have to be willing to take risks. There is learning in success and failure.

Plan to have fun and you will!

Celebrate teacher learning and successes.

Students will help drive the change because they will see new ways to do things.

Teachers must help students to see the purposeful use of technology. Deliberate, intentional teaching is required.