TSIP Refresh: Feedback Requested

The Virginia Society for Technology in Education (VSTE) has drafted new Technology Standards for Instructional Personnel (TSIP).

These standards update the original 1998 standards (http://lis.virginia.gov/cgi-bin/legp604.exe?000+reg+8VAC20-25-30) and represent base level skills that every educator must meet in order to be considered proficient in the use of technology for teaching and learning.

We welcome your feedback on these standards. You can review the standards here and then complete a short survey.




What Is Instructional Technology?

Members of the VSTE Board of Directors will be taking time to periodically share their ideas and passions with the VSTE membership. In this post, Board Member Tim Stahmer muses on the meaning of instructional technology. 

A primary mission of VSTE is, of course, to help empower educators to make great use of technology for teaching and learning. Many of our members even have “instructional technology”, or some variation on the phrase, in their job title.

But what exactly is “instructional” technology? As opposed to another variety of tech, like the 1977 Ford Pinto.

Ask around and you’ll probably get many different answers to that question, but, since this is my post, here is my twitter-length definition:

Tweet

That would exclude the student information system many teachers use every day. Certainly the online grade book, attendance system, and other tools in most SIS packages is an essential part of classroom management. But it’s not used by students in any part of their learning.

We also drop the learning management system (LMS) many districts provide for their teachers. Think Blackboard, Edmodo, or Google Classroom. Also not “instructional” technology.

I suppose you could make the case that students might use parts of some LMS directly for their learning (a blogging tool, for example). But that’s not how they are commonly used. Most LMS function as organizational and distribution systems for content pushed to students, again to improve classroom management.

Also not “instructional”: response tools (Kahoot, Socrative), interactive whiteboards, video tutorials (Khan Academy), and a long, long list of curriculum games. Although I’ve seen a few (very few) special cases, student interaction with these resources is almost always as consumers, responding to material provided by publishers and teachers, not using them as creators.

And for me, that is the fundamental component for any technology to be considered instructional: control. When I say “directly by students”, I expect them to have some meaningful control as to how the technology – device, software, website, whatever – is used in the learning process.

So, what would I consider some examples of “instructional” technology?

That word processing program most students use would count, but only if they have some decision about what they will write. It would be even better if their writing was connected to the web, allowing them to present their ideas to a larger, more meaningful audience. One without a red pen.

We could include one of those slide show presentation programs, but only if the student has some control over the content. And again, let’s extend that control and let them determine the tools that will allow them to best explain their ideas to an audience beyond the walls of their classroom.

Then there are the devices that many students bring to school everyday, the ones that too many of their teachers still consider as the antithesis of “instructional”. Beyond providing access to vast amounts of information, those so-called phones are also powerful creative tools that can be used to record, edit, and distribute still images, audio, and video. Tools students can use in many, many ways to communicate their thoughts, ideas, and learning.

Of course, all of the above is only my opinion. But what do you think? How would you define “instructional technology” (or it’s shorter, equally vague sibling “edtech”)? Tweet your ideas to @timstahmer and @vste and let’s have that conversation. Or post a longer comment to this post on my blog.

Because in the end, the terminology we use when discussing these issues – with our colleagues, the community, legislators – does matter. We must be very clear when advocating for the use of technology in our schools and why it makes a difference for students.

Smiling man with glasses

Tim has been helping educators make better use of technology for teaching and learning at his website AssortedStuff since the turn of the century. He also loves to connect with interesting people on Twitter and is a member of the VSTE Board of Directors and serves on the conference committee. 




Big Deal Book, April 17, 2017

Blue rectangle with words Maximizing Technology in the the 21st Century Classroom bright graphic on left side of rectangle displays words Big Deal Media VSTE partners with Big Deal Media to bring you the best in online resources for digital learning and professional development plus grant and competition opportunities and more. In this edition, you can Program a Robot, Converse with Scientists, Thank a Teacher & More.

Here are a few of our favorites from this edition…be sure to check the full Big Deal Book for more great resources!

Weekly Poetry Radio Series

During April, National Poetry Month, students can embark on a journey into the world of daily poetry by tuning into PoetryNow, a weekly radio series that features some of today’s most accomplished and innovative poets.

Meaningful Making Projects

Illustrated with color photos of real student work, Meaningful Making: Projects and Inspirations for FabLabs and Makerspaces contains project ideas, articles, and best practices from educators at the forefront of making and hands-on education.

American History Through Stories of Diversity

Teachers, students, and the general public can dive into the diversity of American history at OneHistory.org, where they can listen to the voices of America, past and present.

Big Deal Book, April 17, 2017

Not everything in the Book is time sensitive so be sure to check out the archives.




April is ISTE Advocacy Month

April is ISTE Advocacy Month and this year your support in advancing our advocacy efforts is more important than ever.

ISTE’s advocacy work over the last several years is under attack. Our work on E-Rate, the Lifeline program and educational technology funding via the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) is at stake with the new Congress and Presidential Administration.

Despite the challenges ahead, there’s also good news. ISTE has an outstanding set of tools to help you develop your ownadvocacy efforts at the state level.

Sign up for the ISTE Advocacy Network, a one-stop source for information about edtech policy.

Participate in the ISTE advocacy campaign by following #Act4Edtech on Twitter and retweeting @isteconnects updates.

Watch and share this video from ISTE Board President Mila Fuller to learn more about ISTE’s advocacy priorities and how you can help advance our efforts.

Your support and participation is critical! Speak up. Share out. Help us protect edtech funding and advance smart policy.




The Word Change (Quick, Find the Exit!)

Members of the VSTE Board of Directors will be taking time to periodically share their ideas and passions with the VSTE membership. In this edition, Board Member Josh Long  provides ideas for implementing personalized learning. 

Changing the way we teach is a difficult task. Asking anyone to change something they have been doing for a long period of time creates tension and stress. I think of a quote I saw from Woodrow Wilson; “If you want to make enemies, try to change something.” Nothing can be truer than the changing environments of our classroom. I am currently in a district that is going through this change as we speak. It’s a great change as we shift and dive our focus onto a focus of student learning. It is a philosophy that I embrace, it’s good teaching, and it hits on everything that one of our previous bloggers touched on, which is personalized learning and personal learning. It is difficult trying not to be that person on the stage anymore giving all of the answers and all of the clues out to scholars. So how do you begin to let your scholars begin their journey on personalized learning and personal learning?

Here are my thoughts, take them with a grain of salt, as I am not an Orator… I am just a teacher of 16 years who believes that if you change the way you teach, it will benefit the scholars and practitioners around you.

  1. Know that personalized learning when it comes down to it is just good teaching practice…it is not something new; it is a change from the norm.
  2. Trust yourself to take on this change. You are good at what you do or you would not be in this position.
  3. Go in knowing that it is going to take time to change, it isn’t something that is going to happen overnight, just like we can’t expect scholars to change their way of learning overnight
  4. It is no secret that we are no longer teaching students for factory-based jobs. We are in the time of tailoring scholars for jobs that require global communication and understanding of different cultures. In most classrooms I observe, students are in rows, talking is done by the leader in the front, and time for discussion is held to a minimum… (If it’s not broke don’t fix it right?) The problem with that I believe is that we don’t see the problems yet, but we will in the future.
  5. Understand that personalized learning isn’t chaos in the classroom…it is just another way of students learning, in the manner that is best suited for them. This gives the practitioner a great vantage point of seeing and knowing how all of our scholars use to learn. In fact it most likely will be less chaotic in the room as students will be doing something that is meaningful to them which means they will be engaged in their own learning and not their neighbors.
  6. Personalized learning to me also doesn’t mean putting them in front of a device and expecting them to learn everything from the computer or a piece of software. Communication is the key, I believe, to good personalized learning. That may occur with a Skype call to an expert in the field, or seeing a scientist working with animals in their respective field.
  7. Lean on your peers for help. Working together to come up with lessons that will inspire your scholars to dive deeper into their learning will make it shine on how much they have actually gained and learned through their unit of inquiry.
  8. Lesson plans are a one way street sometimes. Through personalized learning there are many ways to get to the end of the road, with frequent stops along the way to help gain further and deeper understanding of a topic or thought (Understand though that I’m not saying a lesson plan can’t do that…many times in my class we would wander off the beaten path to discuss something related to the topic at hand.)

I hope that you too can find the way to change the way you reach out to your scholars, and know that yes, it really does look a lot different now than when we were sitting in those chairs those many years ago.

Josh Long is the Supervisor of Technology for Fredericksburg City Schools.




Board of Directors’ Candidates for 2017

Seven candidates are running for five open seats on the Board of Directors for the 2017 – 2020 term. The VSTE Board of Directors provides leadership and direction to the organization.

Click on the links below to review each candidate’s information.

The ballot can be accessed in the Members’ area of the VSTE website. VSTE members of good standing since March 31, 2017, are eligible to vote for up to five candidates. When you click the ballot link, you will be prompted to login to the site. Use the Lost Your Password? link to reset your password.

Elections close on May 11, 2017, at 5 PM.

Smiling man with red tie and beardDavid French
Principal and Digital Learning Leader
Virginia Beach City Public Schools

Learn More

 

Photo of smiling woman with curly hair and a flowered dressAnita Harris
Instructional Technology Specialist
Cumberland County Public Schools

Learn more

 

Heather Hurley
Personalized Learning Supervisor
Arlington Public Schools

Learn More

 

Terry Partlow Lowry
Director of Technology & Curriculum
Wakefield School

Learn More

 

Dr. Kelly S. Rippard
Instructional Technology Lecturer
Old Dominion University

Learn More

 

Ira Socol
Director of Educational Technology and Innovation
Albemarle County Public Schools

Learn More

 

Michael Speidel, M.Ed.
Instructional Designer
Loudoun County Public Schools

Learn More




Michael Speidel, M.Ed.

Michael Speidel, M.Ed.
Instructional Designer
Loudoun County Public Schools

 

 

Educational Leadership Experience

As a leader and manager I am seen as an innovator. I establish 21st Century vision of the classroom and determine where teachers and instruction need to be and establish practices to facilitate the change process. This is not a passive process. Rather, I focus on actions that make desired outcomes come to fruition. As an educational leader I am always looking for opportunities to make quality improvements that benefit student learning. My leadership style is results-driven where all of my actions are centered on improving teaching and learning in the classroom.

Vision for VSTE

Educational technology is in a very exciting position. With the addition of Virtual Reality, Makerspaces and Personalized Learning I think VSTE is in a unique position. My ideal vision for VSTE is to be a leader in promoting educational innovation and supporting the integration of 21st century skills that educators and students need to succeed in a media-centric, global society. My long term goal of VSTE is to provide the entire educational community professional development and support the integration of existing and emerging technologies and facilitate global collaboration.

Biographical Sketch

I have been working in Loudoun County Public Schools since 1999 serving as a SPED Teacher, Technology Resource Teacher, Staff Development Trainer, and now Instructional Designer. As an Instructional Designer for Loudoun County Public Schools my primary responsibilities are to design online learning experiences that support our online high school, professionally develop and create supportive structures for teachers to create and implement technology rich lessons and engage their students in authentic learning experiences. In addition to supporting the online high school, I am also the system admin for multiple services such as Loudoun’s Learning Management System and Google Apps for Education.




Ira Socol

Ira Socol
Director of Educational Technology and Innovation
Albemarle County Public Schools

 

Educational Leadership Experience

Since coming to Albemarle County I have been able to lead teams focused on Learning Technologies, including 1:1 implementation, classroom innovation, library re-design, learning space modernization, and internal grants. In all cases we have focused entirely on the needs and aspirations of kids, putting our adult preferences at the back of the line. In addition I was part of the team that developed our Seven Pathways, our guide to professional learning and our promises to our students. Previously – in Michigan – I led the development team for the Freedom Stick, an ‘everywhere’ accessibility tool for computers, and spent almost 2 years introducing that tool throughout Michigan’s 548 school districts – as well as nationally. Going further back I helped create one of Michigan’s first internet-in-every-classroom, multiple-computers-in-every-classroom, and teachers-with-laptops high schools back in 1996, and a few years later helped develop one of the nation’s most extensive campus networks of fully accessible UDL computer stations at Grand Valley State University in 1999. I have tried to discuss student led technology in presentations and keynotes across the nation and in Europe for almost 20 years.

Vision for VSTE

We need VSTE to continue its leadership, and its voice, on behalf of this century’s children. Our challenge, in this highly diverse state, is to better support our peer-to-peer professional social network so that everyone, rural, suburban, or urban, teacher, tech staff, or division leadership, has a just-in-time cohort of understanding peers who can help us through the difficult moments. This requires building both our online and our face-to-face “meet up” presences, and forces us to look beyond the ways educators have often learned together – and toward adoption of contemporary meeting designs.

Biographical Sketch

It’s an unusual educational background. I have been a New York City Police Officer, I’ve studied fine art, architecture, juvenile justice, I’ve never much liked being in school – though obviously I’ve been in schools an awful lot. I’ve worked with kids at every educational level, and that includes work in a mission for the homeless. I’m dyslexic, ADHD, and some might say oppositionally defiant. But I’m passionate about what great technology and trust in children can create.




Dr. Kelly Rippard

Smiling woman wearing flowered dress and black sweaterDr. Kelly S. Rippard
Instructional Technology Lecturer
Old Dominion University

 

 

Educational Leadership Experience

Greetings, everyone, I am excited to share with you my educational leadership experience. At the beginning of the career, I served as a high school English teacher at a state-of-the-art technology high school in Virginia; here I sponsored service clubs and the school’s digital newspaper as well as chaired vertical and grade-level committees. I then went on to become an English faculty at a private, technology university where I was a leader on the Arts & Sciences digital portfolio evaluation committee, leader for the iPad integration across curriculum plan, leader for the virtual writing center. Later, I became the university’s curriculum operations specialist and instructional designer, where I was a leader in the university’s digital curriculum and curriculum processes, digital assessments and data collection for the QEP/SACS review, and leader for curriculum development for online, blended, and face-to-face curriculum developed for the Moodle LMS. Lastly, I have been a leader as an Instructional Technology Lecturer by sponsoring my college’s largest professional organization, the Student Virginia Education Association (SVEA), which is a sub-group of the Virginia Education Association (VEA) and National Education Association (NEA), respectively. I am also the LiveText digital portfolio administrator for my department and have been a leader on the college’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee. Outside of my previous and current jobs, I am now a co-chair for the English education special interest group (SIG) for the Society for Information Technology and Teacher Education.

Vision for VSTE

First, let me say that I am proud to be in Virginia where we have such a great organization to advance the role of technology in education. When I look to the future, I see a VSTE that works even harder to be on the cutting-edge of digital communication, technology advocacy, and technology training. In terms of digital communication, I’d like to see VSTE have an improved website that includes videos tutorials on important technology topics for teachers, technology specialists, and pre-service teachers. I’d also like to continue with the webinars and maybe add in podcasts and work to reach out to VSTE’s members via more social media such as Instagram and Facebook so that we can work to attract more teachers and pre-service teachers as well as build a strong personal learning community. I would also like to help lead a committee on technology advocacy, helping teachers, schools, and districts locate and apply for grants and funds to bring technology into the hands of the students for learning. Lastly, I’d like to see VSTE have more hands-on workshops where teachers, administrators, parents, and even students can learn to use mobile apps, mobile technologies, and Internet resources to improve learning.

Biographical Sketch

I was born and raised in Hampton Roads, and I come from a long line for educators. I graduated from Christopher Newport University then continued my education at Old Dominion University, earning two master’s degrees and a Ph.D. in Curriculum & Instruction, with relevant course work in Instructional Design Technology. I have always been the go-to person for technology among my co-educators and within my family and friend groups. I am married to my patient, supportive, and technology-loving husband of 9 years Jason, and we have an adorable 19 month old son named Logan. We live in Virginia Beach and enjoy traveling all over the world, cooking and eating foods from all cultures, and exploring the world with our son.




Terry Partlow Lowry

Terry Partlow Lowry
Director of Technology & Curriculum
Wakefield School

 

 

Educational Leadership Experience

My experience in education spans almost three decades and includes the roles of classroom teacher, instructional technology coach, and school administrator. I am currently the Director of Technology and Curriculum for Wakefield School, an Independent School in The Plains, VA. A current member of the VSTE Board, I have chaired the Awards Committee and also served on the Education and Outreach and Advocacy Committees. Throughout my career, I have presented at local and state conferences on innovative practices, resources and instructional strategies and best practices.

Vision for VSTE

The strength of VSTE lies in its membership. VSTE needs to build on its strong history of bringing together some of the best and brightest educators, administrators, and technicians, and continue to expand and create opportunities for these constituencies to share ideas and resources. VSTE must also continue to serve as a vocal advocate for our members, at both the state and national level, strongly articulating their views on instructional issues related to the use of technology for learning.

Biographical Sketch

An educator with 20+ years of experience, I have undergraduate and graduate degrees from the University of Virginia and have taught in both Virginia and California. In addition to my experience in education, I have also worked as an IT consultant overseeing system implementations and training. Previously an Instructional Technology Coach for Prince William County Schools, in 2015 I accepted the position of Director of Technology and Curriculum at Wakefield School. I currently live in Haymarket with my husband, son, and our 17 year old dog, Jesse.