Imagine you’re a teacher…

Suppose you had $200,000 to give to a middle or high school to buy laptops for teachers. Let’s say you had to give the money away, it had to be to a pre-college school, and it had to be for computers — ideally, computers for every teacher in the school. How would you go about determining which school’s faculty deserved computers? That’s right…. you’d give a test!

So… assume that you get to help create this test. What are one or two of the things you’d want the teachers at this hypothetical school to be able to do? Blog? Contribute to or control a wiki? review books on Amazon.com? Create a public calendar? A web page?

Assume that we’re not talking about mastery of C++ here, or total familiarity with Perl or Unix or Java. We’re talking about basic and broadly applicable skills, along the lines of “write a simple spreadsheet in Excel to track classroom expenses” or “Use Google Earth to find map locations mentioned in a history textbook”.

Ultimately, I’m looking for a list of 30-35 “quick test” items, one of which will likely be “keep a blog about your experiences completing the elements of this test”.

14 comments

  1. And when I said “2:250,” I was talking only about the ratio of tech guys to students. With teachers, that’s 2:350 which is, um, 1:175. Yikes!

  2. At The New Job, every faculty member gets a laptop and a day’s worth of training. We are required to be familiar with the FirstClass e-mail system (including the use of conferences) and with Senior Systems’ “MyBackpack” program, which is the school-wide database that lets us access student information and schedules, comments, grades, attendance, and the like. We are also given training on the new MS suite (Office 2007).

    Throughout the year, Matt, the Director of Middle School Technology, meets with me in my classroom once a week (Thursdays at 1:15). He stops by to see if I have any questions and to see if the Tech Department can support the use of technology in my curriculum. So far this year, I’ve gotten an LCD projector (soon to be mounted to the ceiling with surround sound, a receiver, and a DVD player); a promise to consider Dragon Text NaturallySpeaking for next year; support for doing a podcast project and wikispace in the classroom; and a four-port USB hub because I’m using an OCR program to scan long out-of-print short stories into my computer.

    Everyone in The New Job is required to use technology. Some use it more than others. But all of this is not because I’m an early adopter. In fact, the seventh-grade English teacher beat me to the punch: she had her kids do podcasts of their recent autobiographical essay because I told her I was going to, and then I played her a few StoryCorps pieces, and she talked to Matt and got it going. Before me. BEFORE.

    The round-and-round at Your Job will go on forever without a solution because the infrastructure must be built first. You have two technology people for a school of almost 250 students and 100 or so teachers. Two to 250. That’s a ratio of 1:125.

    So efore you participate in their bait-and-switch, just remember: there is one Technology guy to every 125 people at Your Job. Kind of makes coming up with a “faculty wishlist” irrelevant, don’t you think?

    -BG

  3. Sure… That trick works.

    You know and I know, the circular argument is, “well, we don’t have a curriculum, so we don’t want to get the laptops.” And then, a few weeks later, “Well, we don’t have laptops yet, so we don’t want to talk about the curriculum yet.”

    I’m trying to eliminate the curriculum problem in that equation.

    • Sure… That trick works.

      You know and I know, the circular argument is, “well, we don’t have a curriculum, so we don’t want to get the laptops.” And then, a few weeks later, “Well, we don’t have laptops yet, so we don’t want to talk about the curriculum yet.”

      I’m trying to eliminate the curriculum problem in that equation.

      • At The New Job, every faculty member gets a laptop and a day’s worth of training. We are required to be familiar with the FirstClass e-mail system (including the use of conferences) and with Senior Systems’ “MyBackpack” program, which is the school-wide database that lets us access student information and schedules, comments, grades, attendance, and the like. We are also given training on the new MS suite (Office 2007).

        Throughout the year, Matt, the Director of Middle School Technology, meets with me in my classroom once a week (Thursdays at 1:15). He stops by to see if I have any questions and to see if the Tech Department can support the use of technology in my curriculum. So far this year, I’ve gotten an LCD projector (soon to be mounted to the ceiling with surround sound, a receiver, and a DVD player); a promise to consider Dragon Text NaturallySpeaking for next year; support for doing a podcast project and wikispace in the classroom; and a four-port USB hub because I’m using an OCR program to scan long out-of-print short stories into my computer.

        Everyone in The New Job is required to use technology. Some use it more than others. But all of this is not because I’m an early adopter. In fact, the seventh-grade English teacher beat me to the punch: she had her kids do podcasts of their recent autobiographical essay because I told her I was going to, and then I played her a few StoryCorps pieces, and she talked to Matt and got it going. Before me. BEFORE.

        The round-and-round at Your Job will go on forever without a solution because the infrastructure must be built first. You have two technology people for a school of almost 250 students and 100 or so teachers. Two to 250. That’s a ratio of 1:125.

        So efore you participate in their bait-and-switch, just remember: there is one Technology guy to every 125 people at Your Job. Kind of makes coming up with a “faculty wishlist” irrelevant, don’t you think?

        -BG

        • And when I said “2:250,” I was talking only about the ratio of tech guys to students. With teachers, that’s 2:350 which is, um, 1:175. Yikes!

  4. I would ask how the “laptop” would enhance the learning environment in the school since the ultimate objective is the education of the students. Also, I would probably choose pc tablets or similar devices coupled with smartboards for classroom use. Depending on the economics of the school district (poverty level), a classroom computer may be the only technology the kids see for quite a while. Kids should be technology-literate so even having a few “laptops” and a room sized display to work from, needs would be met.

    So when determining which teachers “deserve” new technology, I would ask 1) are they tech-literate or willing to be trained (and perhaps use their own time to come up to speed) and 2) how will they use the technology to help the kids.

  5. I would ask how the “laptop” would enhance the learning environment in the school since the ultimate objective is the education of the students. Also, I would probably choose pc tablets or similar devices coupled with smartboards for classroom use. Depending on the economics of the school district (poverty level), a classroom computer may be the only technology the kids see for quite a while. Kids should be technology-literate so even having a few “laptops” and a room sized display to work from, needs would be met.

    So when determining which teachers “deserve” new technology, I would ask 1) are they tech-literate or willing to be trained (and perhaps use their own time to come up to speed) and 2) how will they use the technology to help the kids.

  6. that’s a lot of laptops. like over 200 MacBooks. how many teachers are in this school?? 🙂

    i’d give one to as many teachers as possible, along with a guide on how do DO all those 35 things to use computers to teach more effectively. maybe you should write that book.

  7. that’s a lot of laptops. like over 200 MacBooks. how many teachers are in this school?? 🙂

    i’d give one to as many teachers as possible, along with a guide on how do DO all those 35 things to use computers to teach more effectively. maybe you should write that book.

  8. A test? What happened to flipping coins or drawing straws?
    Create a PDF came to mind first (and I don’t know why) but I think it would be important.
    But as simple as this world is you may need to start with ridiculous tasks like can the send an email? An email with attachments?
    I wouldn’t assume they even know this stuff.
    I think knowing and understanding sites like MySpace, Facebook, Youtube would be important just to relate to the present culture of the students.
    I agree with your suggestions like Excel. Perhaps FrontPage as a simple way to create a website. Of course using the Microsoft software may increase costs if you want to go the Apple route. PowerPoint should be a must.
    Are you sure 30 – 35 quick tests is enough?

  9. A test? What happened to flipping coins or drawing straws?
    Create a PDF came to mind first (and I don’t know why) but I think it would be important.
    But as simple as this world is you may need to start with ridiculous tasks like can the send an email? An email with attachments?
    I wouldn’t assume they even know this stuff.
    I think knowing and understanding sites like MySpace, Facebook, Youtube would be important just to relate to the present culture of the students.
    I agree with your suggestions like Excel. Perhaps FrontPage as a simple way to create a website. Of course using the Microsoft software may increase costs if you want to go the Apple route. PowerPoint should be a must.
    Are you sure 30 – 35 quick tests is enough?

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