Teachers and technology

Think back to “olden times” — yes, only 15 or 20 years ago: Teachers posted grades on classroom doors, mailed letters to parents, and signed written grade reports.

The worldwide web made its public debut only in 1991, Gmail was launched in 2004 (by invitation), and PDAs became common around the late 1990s. Smartphones, which revolutionized our lives, dominated only after the debut of the iPhone in 2008. Facebook, which had begun as a college enterprise, went public in 2004, connecting and disconnecting billions of people.

As teachers, we don’t often recognize the influence of technology on our profession, as the various technologies work so seamlessly. But there is an enormous shift on the horizon, and some teachers have already crossed that horizon: internet instruction, learning management systems, virtual classrooms, etc.

When all works as expected, no problem. But not all always works as expected. The time teachers lose working through tech difficulties or cumbersome technologies is enormous, which negatively impacts instruction. So, I’ve begun a project to establish parameters or guidelines for a meaningful discussion on technology. Here is that effort:

Aim: To develop a plan for technology that complements instruction.

  • 508 Compliant (Rehabilitation Act, see here) – sites should accessible to the disabled
  • Sustainability – schools should maintain a commitment to designated resources over a period of time so that teachers might gain competency in a given platform. Not, “here today, gone tomorrow.”
  • Ease of Use
    • Page propagation – Pages should propagate quickly
    • Clicks – Websites should observe a reasonable “click” rule (i.e., users should not be required to click excessively to reach content or employ functions; this is sometimes called the “three-click rule,” an unofficial rule of web design)
    • Uptime – a service should sustain industry standard uptimes (e.g. 99.9 percent uptime)
    • Reliability – Services work reliably, presenting a consistent user-interface, working as anticipated w/o requiring teachers to troubleshoot excessively.
  • Training – schools should offer training so that teachers can use varied services competently (e.g. district support staff, site support, teacher cohorts)
  • Support – schools should offer support for services (e.g., the help desks, site support teams, teacher cohorts, etc.)
  • Demand on time – the use of required technology should not excessively impact a teacher’s ability to provide instruction and other student services; the use of required technology should not adversely impact a teacher’s ability to satisfy contractual obligations.
  • Aligned with national or state standards – Use of technology should be informed by national and/or state standards (e.g., Common Core) or even ISTE (see here)
  • Copyright – teacher-generated content should not be reused by a third-party, except with consent and/or appropriate compensation as determined by contract.
  • Portability – teacher-generated content should be portable from one platform to another. To some extent, systems should cater to formats that are widely used, e.g. a rubric created in one system should be portable (within reasonable limits) to another; a test generated in a system should be portable to another, etc.
  • Security – sites accessed should provide adequate security. Passwords should be secure and two-factor authentication should be available.



© 2017, Mark R. Adams. All rights reserved.

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