This post is for my EDIM 514 Internet Tools for Teaching course.
For this blog post I interviewed Lesley Johnson. Lesley is a Chemistry and Biology teacher in the DC area, and she also teaches at their virtual high school.
Here is my interview with her, as well as my thoughts at the bottom:
1. How did you decide which tools to use with their students?
Lesley: At my school, we have someone who provides the staff with technology specific professional development. She provides weekly training sessions to introduce us to various Web 2.0 tools. During the training sessions, she shows us how to access the tool (i.e. if an account must be established) and how to use the tool. In addition to learning the tool, she also shares how the tool has been used by her or someone else in the building. She set up a wiki site which allows us to see some ways the tools have been used by teachers. At the end of each session, she helps us to brainstorm ways we can use the tool in our subject area. She helps us to both create and implement our ideas.
2. What obstacles did you need to overcome to obtain permission to do such a project?
Lesley: Fortunately, our school has access to computer labs as well as iPad carts. In order to use the equipment, especially the iPads, we need to sign up through an online resource calendar and explain how we will be using them. The school would like to see the iPads used for something beyond a web browser.
3. What advice would you give to a teacher seeking to replicate your efforts?
Lesley: Be familiar with the tool before you use it with your students. Go through your directions as if you were a student so you will be ready to answer any questions. Consider creating a rubric that will evaluate both content and web tool skills.
In order for teachers to use new tools, they first need to have access, and they also need to have confidence in how to use it effectively. Lesley is fortunate to have someone dedicated at her school to provide PD on new technology. Many schools do not have a dedicated person and the teachers are left to figure things out in their free time (what free time??!). I understand why many schools choose to have iPad or laptop carts, as it is an equitable solution so that all students and teachers have access to the technology. However the down side is that no one has ownership of the technology, and it often times is just used in basic ways, as “web browsers” as Lesley mentioned above. The more ownership a student or teacher has over the technology, the more they will use it. No school has the budget to add technology to all classrooms at once, but they can add them over time and give all teachers the opportunity by having them apply to get the technology and agree to a certain amount of PD. Lastly, I really like Lesley’s advice about going through the tool as if you were the student. See how the tool will be used through their eyes so the teacher can be prepared for any questions.