Digital Learning Environment Inventory
- What tools, software, operating systems, and equipment are available in your school and classroom? (including but not limited to: videoconferencing, streaming, photos sharing sites, video sharing sites, document sharing sites, podcasts, blogs, wikis, social networking sites, etc.)
There is a big difference between what internet sites are available to teachers and to their students. Teachers have access to videoconferencing and streaming via YouTube.com. It is against our internet use policy to access blogs and social networking sites, but teachers can override blocks if necessary.
- How does your school make use of school and/or teacher websites?
Our school district has a website that includes basic information for contacting the school, a calendar, curriculum, and policies. Most teachers do not have their own websites. Teachers use an online grading platform.
- How are you currently utilizing technology for learning?
Students use small laptops for research , writing, and class projects. I often allow them to use laptops for sponge activities like playing FreeRice.com geography games after completing assignments. I daily use an LCD projector. With it, students view PowerPoint presentations, watch short video clips for introducing or reviewing topics, and think about and discuss images and infographics as part of visual learning activities. We have communicated via chat and video conference with people that I know in other countries, including a pharmacist in Egypt, students in Turkey and France, and a teacher in Senegal.
- Which websites are blocked by your school’s firewall?
Students cannot watch streaming content without a teacher override. Adult language and images are also blocked.
- What websites and tools are colleagues in your building using?
Younger students use sites with learning activities and games. School interventionists use adaptive programs for targeting reading and math gaps. Our art teacher often uses technology with older students, especially Adobe Photoshop.
Is there a system for evaluating student technology literacy in your school? If so, how effective or helpful have you found the assessment?
There is not a system for evaluating student technology literacy in our school. Our K-8 building has talked about adopting grade-level technology expectations, but we have not yet done so. This year, a common technology curriculum is being introduced in our elementary grades.
- Gather suggestions from students on their ideas for integrating technology into their learning.
Students would like the option of using more technology for demonstrating what they know. They want to produce videos and websites. They would also like to communicate more with other students and cultures via the internet.
- What tools that are not presently available, would help to achieve district objectives?
Our district faces three main problems with regard to technology, all related to being a rural, high-poverty school district. 1. Low bandwidth in our area inhibits our school’s internet usage. Many students with internet access are still on dial-up. 2. About half of our students live in poverty and rural isolation. These students lack technology at home or access to it in the small town of less than a thousand residents. 3. Resources, both financial and human, are stretched thin in rural, high-poverty schools. Secondary teachers often face large class sizes, 6 different preparations, and little time or incentive for adopting new technology.
Bandwidth, computers for students, and time for teachers would help us get on the right side of the digital divide. Until we have the financial resources to solve these problems, ours goals should include using what we do have (projectors and two laptop carts) more effectively.
- Does your school promote BYOD (bring your own device) policies for students?
Cell phones must stay off and in lockers during the school day. In our junior high wing, teachers have been allowing students to use e-readers, but I know that they are banned at the high school. Students are not allowed to bring laptops to school or go online with their own devices.
Using your Digital Learning Environment Inventory, develop a solution or suggest an improvement customized to your school/classroom circumstances. Include a paragraph describing:
1. The solution/suggestion
At first glance, it looks like the technology cards are stacked against my students, but we DO have digital opportunities that are going untapped. Maximizing what we have is the answer. When it comes to fostering global competencies, we could be incorporating far more opportunities for students to see and communicate with the rest of the world. I propose that we adopt a committee or appoint a person for finding and promoting grade-level appropriate digital activities that can help us globalize our classrooms. The Pinterest boards that I have been developing for this TGC fellowship are a great place to start. Through them, I have been able to tap into the collective experiences of dozens of like-minded teachers.
2. Reflect on what you learned from this process
Many teachers are not thinking about nor taking advantage of the digital opportunities that they have. This is because they are unfamiliar with digital opportunities and are far too overextended to research and adopt them. Teachers need to be introduced to digital opportunities and encouraged to use them. Presentations, team teaching, cross-curricular activities, and more can be used to support teachers who are interested in digital possibilities.