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Streamlining Conversations

2007 March 14
by Kim Cofino

Over the past week or so, these issues have struck a chord with me:

  • Miss Profe is experiencing frustration trying to figure out how web 2.0 tools can improve her students’ learning.
  • Here at M’KIS, we are developing a clear framework for the process of IT integration to help teachers deal with the overwhelming options available.
  • We’re basing our procedures on the necessity of conversations – between teacher and tech integrator; tech integrator with teacher and grade-level team; teacher and Curriculum Coordinator; tech integrator and tech coordinator – but we realize that, at this point, they don’t all speak the same language.
  • When presenting our ideas to a group of faculty, the librarian stated that the process for integrating technology is exactly the same as the process for integrating information literacy skills, so we should include a required conversation with the librarian as well.

pbchoc.pngHey, here’s an idea:

If we are trying encourage all teachers to be multi-literate, through constructive conversations, wouldn’t it be easier if the information literacy specialist and the technology integration specialist were one and the same person?

I love the idea of involving the literacy specialist in technology integration projects, but I wonder about the burden on the classroom teacher. Is there a way that we can streamline this process? Can one person fulfill both the technology role and the literacy role? Is this desirable? This is all rolling around in my mind because the fusion of technology and literacy will be the focus of my new position for the upcoming school year…

8 Responses leave one →
  1. March 14, 2007

    MC, at my present place of employ, there are the computer techs, who, keep the systems churning, and which occupies the bulk of their time, but are not charged with literacy per se. If there is a new platform to which the faculty body is to be introduced, such as EZ Grade Pro or Podium, then the tech guys provide the literacy training. Then there’s the Active Learning Center Director, who more or less keeps the learning center/library going, but, again, doesn’t provide much in the way of hands-on tech support and education. In fact, he seems somewhat annoyed when asked to fulfill this role. So, at the present time, there really isn’t anybody, which does place the preponderance of the burden for self-education and the education of the students on the teachers. So, then teachers which show the interest and the motivation to learn must seek out opportunities on their own. The only time I have the time for this is during the summer.

    But, to answer your question, MC, I would like to see a technology integration specialist at my school who is interested in informing and educating students and teachers about technology, and who is willing to guide, train and support students and teachers with respect to technology-based projects. The literacy specialist/librarian, whichever moniker one desires to use, should be left with the responsibility of providing and supporting information literacy, print and multi-media. Does this make sense?

  2. March 14, 2007

    Miss Profe,

    Yes! This is exactly what I try to do! I work collaboratively with the teachers to entirely take away the burden of integrating technology – by helping them plan the units, focusing on the core subject needs, coordinating the technology resources (lab time, laptop carts, peripherals, setting up web 2.0 tools), and supporting and training both the teachers and the students on the skills needed to complete the task at hand. I can’t imagine teachers being asked to do all that on top of everything else without any support – to me, that is setting the teachers up for failure.

    I can certainly understand your frustration. Is there any chance of this type of person being hired at your school? This is one of the things I like best about working in international schools – the flexibility, open-mindedness, and willingness to try new ways of doing things that are best for teaching and learning.

  3. March 14, 2007

    MC, I am not sure what is in the long-term future of my place of employ where technology is concerned. There is a committee trying to grapple with that right now. In fact, there was a survey distributed about a month ago to the faculty body and to students. But, that survey was specific to the Active Learning Center/Library, and what we as a learning community would like to see happen to that space. Perhaps I can put a bug in the Head of School’s ear re: the need for a bona fide technology integration specialist of the type I describe above. Perhaps one of the tech guys can me converted. Honestly, I don’t think we really need two and a half men doing tech support all day long.

  4. March 15, 2007

    The roles do often mix and I do find that I am as big a proponent of spreading the information literacy piece as anyone, but here’s the problem: the job is too big. Sure the ideas are integrated, but both come with their own set of “other jobs” that make being the information literacy person (and librarian) and the information technology person (and general troubleshooter, trainer, and solution to ANYTHING that has to do with a computer at your school).

    In the end both players have to advocate for the other, the job descriptions are too big for one person. I guess you could hire the same number of staff, but make sure ALL of them could do both…now that’s an idea…

    I know my school has worked that out…we are getting a new librarian who completely has the tech skills to add to her information literacy.

  5. March 15, 2007

    Kim,

    I found (just yesterday) a great resource about Media Literacy. There are two huge .pdf files that might interest you as you prepare for your new position.
    Literacy for the 21st Century and 5 Key Questions that can change the World- Classroom Activities for Media Literacy

    I agree with Dennis, that the job would be too big for one person and the ideal situation would be to have one technology savvy media specialist in addition to the technology integrationist.

    Here is a quote from Elisabeth Thoman and Tessa Jolls from “Media Literacy: A National Priority for a Changing World” that talks about the convergence between media and technology.

  6. March 15, 2007

    Oops the quote did not make it into my previous comment. Here it is again:

    “The convergence of media and technology in a global culture is changing the way we learn about the world and challenging the very foundations of education. No longer is it enough to be able to read the printed word; children, youth, and adults, too, need the ability to both critically interpret the powerful images of a multimedia culture and express themselves in multiple media forms.

    Media literacy education provides a framework and a pedagogy for the new literacy needed for living, working and citizenship in the 21st century. Moreover it paves the way to mastering the skills required for lifelong learning in a constantly changing world.”

  7. March 16, 2007

    Thanks, MC. Really enjoying your blog after discovering you through Miss Profe.

    In Minnesota, the question of whether to (as you so ably put it) streamline the conversation is being asked right now at the Department of Education. In this case, the conversation is about technology standards, and whether to go with the ISTE NETS*S model or an information literacy model developed by MEMO, the Minnesota Educational Media Organization. Copy of the recommended MEMO standards from 2004 (!) at http://www.memoweb.org/links/infotechlitstandards.pdf

  8. March 16, 2007

    Ms Profe,

    IT integration is very new – so new that my state does not offer a teaching credential specifically in my field – so I’m not surprised that you don’t have a full time tech integration specialist at your school. If you can convince your HoS to considering hiring for that position, I’m sure all of the teachers would benefit. It makes a huge difference knowing that you have a teacher (not a technician) available to help plan and deliver tech-rich units. It shouldn’t be a burden.

    Dennis,

    Thanks :) I’m really looking forward to working on a team that works collaboratively across the “gaping” technology – library divide. I think it is a huge job for one person, but having the ability to cross over and see both ends of the spectrum will make a big difference, I hope!

    Silvia,

    Thank you so much for those excellent resources! The CML is bookmarked for frequent future reference. I love that quote – it’s perfect.

    Scott,

    Welcome! Thanks for the link, I’m interested to see what the standards are for Ed Media – I like that even better than Information Technology. The word “media” can encompass even more than IT. I usually use information literacy, but maybe I should say media literacy?

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