Rick Martinez (Asst. Superintendent of Technology, Southwest ISD) and Dr. Sandra Zuniga (UTSA)

NCTE Conference in San Antonio, Tx was a conference I’d intended to attend, but regrettably, I forgot about it in the midst of work. One of my team members announced he was leaving to another District in another town–a promotion–and so that kicked off a series of events that needed to be addressed prior to his departure.

My focus was on attending the ISTE NETS-Administrators session. I was strictly there as a blogger trying to record the conversations for posterity and share them with you. As such, I was fortunate enough to video record the entire event, as well as audio record and take notes. Unfortunately, the quality of the video and audio stunk…my fault, as I shouldn’t have put them so close to the projector which drowned out everything.

At the recent NCTE Conference (November, 2008), educators participated in a session entitled Refreshing ISTE’s National Education Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A). The session, facilitated ably by San Antonio, Texas based leaders–Rick Martinez (Alamo Heights ISD Assistant Superintendent of Technology) and Dr. Sandra Zuniga (Our Lady of the Lake University)–focused on a few questions:

  • How can we best meet the needs of a digital generation?
  • How are we going to develop our own skills to coordinate this?
  • How can we lead our teaching staff?

In the conversation, the discussion centered around transforming learning environments. Some of the educator perceptions shared included the following:

  • Kids are so much farther ahead than we are.
  • It took 3 years to get teachers to do email, [how can we expect them to embrace new technologies that are ubiquitous OUTSIDE of school?]
  • Teachers don’t want to look stupid in front of their students.
  • Students needs to be able to construct knowledge from multiple information sources and experiences. There IS a differernce between using notecards and pulling information from web sites, rather than using social annotation and bookmarking tools like Diigo.com that allow you to highlight Web pages, and more.

This session was mainly focused on a variety of leadership activities to elicit feedback from participants; the feedback was entered into laptops setup for the purpose of data collection. Some of the key areas featured:

  1. What are the characteristics of effective tech leaders?
  2. Revision guidelines: incorporate feedback, consider multiple audiences, align numbering of items, lead with student learning rather than tech tools.
  3. How should refreshed NETS-A augment the refreshed NETS for students and teachers?
  4. How do the current trends in education such as increased competition for funding, staffing, leadership development and evolving school choice impact the refresh of NETS-A?
  5. Student engagement–lecture is not sufficient. You have to go to other tools.
  6. Nowhere to tell you how to achieve goals…you can achieve this with whatever you have.
  7. How do you prevent transitioning old curriculum to new media?
  8. How do students learn? What are they accustomed to using?
  9. What should a current technology performance profile for admin look like? Who’s the primary audience, superintendent, district program director, principal?
  10. What about parents? Should resources for parents/teachers for Internet safety be included?
  11. ISTE is putting videos and talking about how they are teaching and working with kids.

Relevant web sites:

Activity: List 3 characteristics of administrators who are effective technology leaders.

Responses from the audience included: visionary, believe in tech, be a tech user, need leaders that go with the flow, be able to listen, realize that tech is constantly evolving, and model tech use.

Some reflections:It’s clear that conversations about transformative uses of technology in schools are not taking place in a systematic way. While brave teachers are appropriating web tools that were never intended for use in the classroom (such as Flickr.com, the infamous image sharing site that is used alike for both digital storytelling and displaying nude teachers as art), school districts collectively ignore the issues except to ban and filter. In fact, “ban and filter” is the new credo of school district administrators and lawyers, deathly afraid of having real conversations with those they serve. Acceptable use conversations may go to the heart of governance, leadership and our conceptions of teaching and learning. Whether we believe we are prepared to have those conversations or not, they are upon us. Are we meeting the needs of a digital generation when we fail to have the conversations we need to have?

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