Shift and Change in School: The “7 Things” Theory

I am toying with an idea that came up at a recent department meeting I had with my tech teachers here at Dubai American Academy.  I asked them each to talk about technology integration and what that meant to them and also how they percieved the success of that model at DAA.  Each talked about different things and I was struck that I agreed with each of them.  How then to reconcile all those ideas?

In relating the discussion to others afterwards I found myself repeatedly saying “There are 7 things that need to change in order to make a successful change in Tech use in schools.”  I am not sure where I got the number, but “7 Things” seemed to make my point that, even if you change one or two things about the school or about teaching, you will not effect lasting change or successfully shift the school into a 21st Century Technology Learning model.

Most importantly, these all need to be done at the same time.  They are not successful when only some of them are done and they are not successful when done sequentially.

So what are the 7 Things?

  • Curriculum: The curriculum needs to change to reflect integrated technology opportunities within subject area units (even if they need to be changed every year or two)
  • PD: Classroom and subject area teachers need good PD both in technology tools appropriate to their area and in planning units and lessons with technology tools from the outset (not planning their lessons and units and then asking the tech team for some help afterward).
  • Schedule: The use of computer lessons as planning time for teachers (in the elementary school) and having mandatory (or elective) classes in “technology” needs to be thrown out to allow the tech “teachers” time to plan and teach collaboratively, to go to classrooms or work with other teachers in the labs.  The labs (if there are to be labs at all) need to be open for teachers to use.
  • Hardware and computer labs: Students need their own computer.  Period.  Along with this, the network must be created/improved to handle the load of 1:1.  Accept this and start planning now because it takes years to get there.
  • Perceptions of Technology: Technology can no longer be seen as a separate subject.  It is not.  Technology tools are tools that help students learn Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Music, Drama, Art, etc.  They are the things that enable students to make connections in their learning.
  • Collaborative teaching: Until all teachers are proficient enough in their own requisite tech tools, teachers must work together with their colleagues and the school’s technology integration specialists.  The team approach is essential.
  • Choosing the right tools: We need to take a good close look at what technology tools are really necessary for each grade level and subject and work with teachers to get them and their students proficient in using those.  We do not need to teach students 10 different software packages each year.  Choose a couple of tools and use them over and over.  For learning.  Not for their own sake.  If a certain tool, like PowerPoint, is not serving the classroom curriculum, we need to stop using it and teaching it.  We don’t need to teach PowerPoint in Grade 3 because they will need it in Middle School.

7 Things.  All at the same time.

Some caveats of course.  What do you think?  Let’s hear some challenges and Yeah-Buts in the comments.

EARCOS 2008: Jeff Utecht Students as Creators

Today’s web is a social medium.

Teacher’s are no longer the gate-keepers of information.

Youtube in the classroom:

  • videos available on virtually every topic
  • copyright? creative commons license
  • students already using youtube, give them something to do while they are there
  • if you can’t find it on YouTube, create it

Web 3.0:

  • semantic web

Web 4.0

  • web OS

Club Penguin, Second Life virtual worlds

Alumni sites should be set on FaceBook, instead of independently.

EARCOS 2008: Session 5 Dennis Harter 21st Century Skills

I.T Curriculum 2.0

Technology offers new opportunities in education

What do we do about it?  How can we change schools when schools are very good at not changing?

What do students need to  do or to be able to do to be successful?

  • communicate
  • learn independently
  • create
  • understand information
  • values?
  • speak another language
  • collaborate

What are the obstacles to a successful embedded IT curriculum?

  • teachers resistance to change
  • teachers too busy to plan
  • teachers have a full plate
  • tech changes too fast
  • tech is not reliable or dependable
  • it is overwhelming to try to do it all
  • putting stuff out there on the web (wiki and blogs) is dangerous in terms of inappropriate content and spamming

Firstly, we must accept that the way IT integration is done right now is not working.  Having an IT curriculum is not working.  IT and student skills are advancing faster than we can write a skills-based curriculum.

Why can’t they learn IT the way they live IT?

You learn IT when you need it.

Students, digital natives, know how to entertain themselves, but they are not good educating themselves online.

What are the enduring understandings?  They are not PowerPoint or Word.  So what are the essential questions for 21st century literacy?

New Literacy Wikispace

Rubrics for evaluating these enduring understandings are included on the wiki.

Do teachers have the skillset to teach the enduring understandings?

Co-teaching helps embed the IT into the classroom.

IT needs to be infused into school and not just done once in grade 3 and checked off as complete.

The big challenge is to help teachers build rich units and lessons that embed technology naturally and relevantly.

Making it happen:

    1. development of framework and essential questions
    2. curriculum office involvement and refinement
    3. leadership team buy-in
    4. teacher buy-in and PD


    1. ISB has created a vision of what 21st century learner looks like.
    2. Enduring understandings
    3. Essential questions

    Much of this has been the focus of library curriculum for the past decade.  But why has it not made it into the classroom?  Librarians have not had the mandate to collaborate and co-teach to the same degree as IT integration specialists.


    if IT is truly embedded then good rubrics and content area assessments will take care of it.

    My thoughts: if IT is truly embedded in the curriculum, then students can not graduate without IT skills?  Teachers can not teach, they can not successfully deliver their curriculum without the technology.  IT must be built into the curriculum.

      EARCOS 2008: Session 3 Kim Cofino Developing the Global Student

      I tried using Twitter this morning to take notes in a conference session.  Did not really like it as a note-taking tool.  Now will try this.

      Session 3: Kim Cofino: Developing the Global Student

      • How are students today different?
      • What are 21st century skills?
      • Effective learners
      • effective collaborators
      • effective creators
      • its just good teaching
      • can good teaching be truly effective without technology tools?

      In our previous session we talked about technology plans and getting buy-in from teachers.  It needs to be a parallel conversation of series of conversations about technology integration, good teaching and the technology tools needed to support learning.  Asking teachers what they need does not necessarily guide a tech plan as teachers do not necessarily know what they do not know; they rely on the tech staff to guide them and tell them what is out there right now and what would be a good use of technology.  Asking tech staff what teachers should be doing and using also does not guide a tech plan either as techies know the technology and maybe even the pedagogical uses, but they do not really know the curriculum.  It needs to be an ongoing conversation.

      Embedded technology not “integrated”

      [slideshare id=161540&doc=developing-the-global-student-v2-1194743695449510-4&w=425]

      Slideshow: Kim Cofino, ISB Bangkok