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.