Acceptable Use Policies in School Districts

Acceptable Use Policy in School Districts

Currently, my state’s education department does not have guidelines for schools to use concerning acceptable use policies (AUPs). The digital technology tab on the Oregon Department of Education’s website is currently under construction. Fortunately, districts across Oregon have already responded to the needs regarding acceptable use of technology in schools.

According to Common Sense Media, an acceptable use policy for school districts outlines, in writing, how they expect their community members to behave with technology. Often the policies are written to include appropriate and inappropriate technology use and related consequences. Finally, parents and children are expected to sign off that they agree to the terms and conditions in order to use technology for school work.

I liked this summary of recommendations about what should be included in any school district’s acceptable use policy. (Virginia.gov)

An AUP must address (1) access to and transmission of data and information within the K-12 environment and (2) any technology-based device in the school or personal device brought into the school. It must include the following components:

Description of the instructional philosophies and strategies to be supported by Internet access in schools

Statement on the educational uses and advantages of the Internet in a school or division

Statement that the AUP complies with state and federal telecommunication codes, laws, and regulations

Statement regarding the need to comply with fair-use laws and other copyright regulations while accessing and utilizing the Internet and other network materials and resources

Disclaimer absolving the school division, under specific circumstances, from responsibility

List of the roles and responsibilities of division personnel, community stakeholders, parents, and students for using the Internet and other electronic-based resources

Description of the safety measures currently in place and those measures planned for emerging technologies not currently deployed in the system

Description of the methods by which the division ensures data and network security

Description of prohibited forms of technology-based applications and hardware use by employees and students in addition to details of associated penalties (including clear definitions of acceptable online behavior and access privileges—reflecting any circumstances unique to a specific school or division)

Description of the procedures to address breaches of Internet and intranet security and safety, including legal actions to be taken

Description of the ongoing professional development opportunities for each stakeholder group and associated needs assessments and evaluations

Description of the community outreach activities and associated needs assessments and evaluations

Description of the procedures for evaluating and revising the AUP

Signature form for teachers, parents, and students indicating their intentions to abide by the AUP

Acceptable use policies are important because they protect students. As well, they provide students, teachers and parents with a base level understanding about expectations for responsible use of technology within and outside of school.

Out of personal interest, I decided to compare four examples of AUPs from designated locations around the world.

Four examples of Student Focused AUPs

HSD Elementary Handbook, USA see pages 14-18

Summary: This AUP outlines the basic responsibilities and guidelines related to the appropriate use of technology within and outside of schools. It is written in legal language and would require interpretation for most K-12 students in order to truly understand. The opening statement includes:

hsd_opening_statement

Acceptable use in Australia

Summary: This AUP is written in positive language rather than punitive language. The site also states that it is not intended to be a legal document. Instead, it is a compact to be understood by the child, parents, and teacher. It also includes a child-friendly page to demonstrate in pictures and/or in writing that the student understands important elements of responsible technology use. A page is designated to show that the entire team (parent, child, and teacher) agree to the conditions set forth.

austr_aupAcceptable use in United Kingdom of Great Britain

Summary: This AUP is written for students in the form of “I will…” statements. It is standard and includes broad expectations at first. It ends with examples of appropriate and inappropriate use of technology as a guideline. Parents and students are expected to sign the document and it appears to be a legal document based on the opening statement included here:

great_britain_aup

Acceptable use in Singapore

Summary: This AUP is written in positive language and is intended to be easily understood by students. The AUP favors the benefits of technology over the disadvantages of use for school related work. Instead of “I statements” this AUP uses “We statements”. I like how the use of “We statements” emphasizes the importance of holding each other accountable since many technology related school work is completed in a collaborative way.

singapore_aup

In conclusion, I believe these acceptable use policies reflect the litiginous nature of the particular area of the country these AUPs are from. I am attracted to the AUPs that are written positively and in a non-punitive way. However, I do realize why guidelines are written in a legalistic way so that school districts can avoid lawsuits in order to focus on using financial and human resources to support learning.

References

Retrieved from http://www.doe.virginia.gov/support/safety_crisis_management/internet_safety/acceptable_use_policy.shtml

Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/1to1/aups

The Basic Suite

The Basic Suite is composed of three software tools: word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. Two of the three tools have been integrally important to my teaching and the learning experienced by my former elementary school age students. Those two being word processing and presentation. Due to the amount of writing and speaking experiences that I provide for my students, word processing and presentation software tools were a staple choice in my classroom across multiple subjects. Below is a summary of the relative advantages of these three tools.

Word Processing

Teacher Productivity

Relative advantage: I created most of the documents for my families and students. My Back-to-School letter and questionnaire were modified slightly every year. All of my lesson plans were archived in Google Drive for easy access. Comprehension worksheets, graphic organizers, and sentence frames that I created for some favorite lessons were useful over and over again thanks to word processing software.

Student Productivity & Collaboration

Relative advantage: When students have access to word processing, it automatically provides some built in modifications such as spell check, and with the internet, the ability to consult a dictionary or thesaurus to help students get to the heart of their ideas instead of laboring over handwriting and limited word choice which can lead to rudimentary sentence formation due to playing it safe when they do not have access to these tools.

As well, the sharing feature in Google Docs is great for peer and teacher editing. I value the revision history tool so that I can provide feedback to the writer and editor.

Research cited in Roblyer (2016), states that students with access to word processing software are engaged in a greater quantity of writing throughout the year as compared to students without access to word processing. I also found this to be true.

Spreadsheets

“Spreadsheets are programs designed to organize and manipulate numerical data”, (Roblyer, 2016, p.121). Because of my former role as an elementary educator, I did not use spreadsheets ever. This class is my first experience using this software tool. However, in my role as instructional coach now, I am discovering that spreadsheets are a preferred way for some teachers when it comes to organizing information.

Time Saving Tool

When it comes to basic calculations in order to do higher level thinking, then spreadsheets offer a great advantage. Mathematics research states that it is more important for students to know how to approach a problem than to get bogged down in calculations that can be done for them.

Roblyer (2016) states that teachers are more accustomed to processing words rather than numbers and therefore student exposure to spreadsheets has been limited. Due to the recent focus on eliminating negative feelings about math, it seems that exposing students to spreadsheets would be a good thing.

Presentations

Teacher Organization of Ideas

Relative advantage: Creating presentations forces any learner to prioritize the information that is to be learned or taught. As well, presentations enhance spoken word when created with an emphasis on visuals (Roblyer, 2016).

Student Demonstration of Learning

Relative advantage: The process of creating anything is the highest form of thinking according to Bloom’s Taxonomy. Therefore, I always include a creative option when assignments lend themselves to it. I prefer to grade student presentations over handwritten work. When visuals complement another person’s ideas, it is easier to determine what level of understanding a student achieved. Presentations are also a great option for those with fine motor challenges. For once in their life, they can create something visually appealing and communicate their ideas without worry that they will be judged on their handwriting or lack of drawing skills.

Research cited in Roblyer (2016), states that presentations are effective if the creator has a specific background in visual design principles and related pedagogy. Otherwise, overuse or improper use of certain presentation features can have a negative impact on the viewer.

My teaching and how students learned in my classroom changed significantly because of the basic suite. Once I fine tuned teaching students how to create using these tools then I just needed to introduce how to use an electronic turn in system. Our district promotes the use of Schoology and Google Classroom to manage teaching and learning in new ways.

References

Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.).     Massachusetts: Pearson.

Instructional Software

5 Types of Software

 

Description Uses in 6th grade writing Relative advantage(s)
Drill and practice This software is designed to be a motivating option for repeated practice in order for low level skills to become automatic so that a student can move on to higher order skills. This software is often a replacement for what could be completed on worksheets, flashcards, or notes for test preparation. Conventions and Grammar practice: mobymax.com and frontrowed.com Students receive immediate feedback on responses and can also view graphs of their progress.
Software allows students to work at own pace and level due to a built in placement test.
Tutorials This software is designed to present a complete sequence of instruction. When unaccompanied by a teacher in close proximity, the student benefits from being a strong reader and someone who is self-motivated. Teach a sequence of instruction on opinion writing: learnzillion.com Tutorials are great options within centers when a teacher is not  available. As well, students benefit from the ability to replay or pause the tutorial as many times as needed to understand.
Simulations This software is designed for two purposes: to teach a learner about something or to teach how to do something.
Physical simulations allow the learner to manipulate objects on the screen.
Iterative simulations allow the learner to speed up or slow down processes that would be hard to see otherwise.
Procedural simulations teach the steps to a procedure.
Situational simulations provide the learner with hypothetical situations in which the learner must respond.
Classroominc.org provides simulations based on topics related to environmental concerns and community based organization.
Simulations like these would be a great way to launch an opinion writing unit.
Simulations provide engaging, real world content and real time decision making. As well, simulations allow for student interaction for the otherwise passive task of opinion writing. They also involve a complex idea and break it down into manageable pieces for students to do some critical thinking prior to writing.
Instructional Games Instructional games are appealing and motivating at the same time as they are instructional. Many  should be used sparingly to keep students focused on the learning rather than just the game-based factors. Topmarks.co.uk could be used as a remedial tool for students who need assistance in understanding paragraph formation. Some students in special education might benefit from a concrete game about paragraphs since they will be writing a multi-paragraph essay. It is engaging and could be used as a reward tool to continue the writing process.
Problem Solving This type of software is designed to either assist the learner with steps to solve problems or provide content area situations in order to apply solutions using previously learned problem solving skills. None that I could find that would be pertinent to writing in particular. Other than providing content as food for thought, I do not see any other relative advantage. Opportunities to use problem solving software would likely improve a student’s ability to provide a rationale for their opinion.

The description and relative advantages section ideas are referenced in:

Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.). Massachusetts: Pearson.

Vision Statement: EdTech 541

education-books-pens

My vision for educational technology in my K-6 environment is to utilize technology to increase student agency. Student agency is defined as “the level of control, autonomy, and power that a student experiences in an educational situation. Student agency can be manifested in the choice of learning environment, subject matter, approach, and/or pace.” (Knewton, 2014, para.1). Research conducted by social-learning theorist, Albert Bandura discovered that “when students act on their sense of agency, they are more likely to engage in learning, take the initiative to be in charge of their learning, develop dispositions as active learners which extend beyond simply learning tasks, and position themselves as active rather than passive learners” (Vaughn, 2014, p. 4). I believe that effective use of technology in the classroom promotes the development of student agency.

A majority of students at my elementary school come from low income homes and the concept of taking ownership of their future isn’t necessarily one that is learned at home. Often their understanding of why things happen to them is left to chance or the feeling that they do not have any choices to make given their circumstances. Educational technology can help empower students based on these benefits listed in Integrating Technology in Education by M.D. Roblyer:

Technology can be a motivational tool. Integrated technology can be attention grabbing, can rid the learner of manual learning in order to get to higher level operations, can provide real world relevance, can allow for opportunities for student created material, can expand the audience of the learner for feedback beyond the teacher, and can support cooperative work (Roblyer, 2016).

Technology can be a seamless tool for learning. Technology allows students immediate access to a large amount of visuals in order to understand abstract concepts, access to the internet to connect them to more information than would exist in a classroom without technology, access to self-paced learning, access to accommodations for those with disabilities, access to time saving functions, and teachers have easy access to student work so they can provide just-in-time feedback (Roblyer, 2016).

Our students only know one world, the digital world. Digital literacy and digital citizenship lessons aren’t add ons in a classroom with educational technology. Technology has made it easier than ever to learn what you want, anytime you want. Our students deserve to know how to continue learning and contributing to our world, using technology, in a positive way (Roblyer, 2016).

The two predominant learning theories that most developments in educational technology have stemmed from are behaviorism and constructivism. The characteristics of technology use in the behaviorist realm might include: children learning through repetition, sequenced instruction, consistent reinforcement; and assessment of learning based on specific skills with only one type of assessment allowed (Roblyer, 2016).

The characteristics of technology use in the constructivist realm might include: children learning through discovery, collaboration, learning from experts, learning at different rates and assessment of learning based on global skills learned over time with the option to be assessed in multiple ways (Roblyer, 2016).

References

Roblyer, M. (2016). Integrating Educational Technology into Teaching (7th ed.).     Massachusetts: Pearson.

https://www.knewton.com/resources/blog/ed-tech-101/student-agency/

Vaughn, M. (2014). The Role of Student Agency: Exploring Openings during Literacy Instruction Teaching & Learning, 28(1), 4-16.

Final Reflection: EdTech 504

 

The course of study in this class has been instrumental at this stage of my career in education. Even though learning theory is rarely discussed in my setting, I now have a greater understanding of the history of learning theory, the similarities and differences among learning theories, socio-political influences related to education and technology and finally a chance to examine emerging theories that incorporate technology. This solid foundation will give me more credibility as a new instructional coach. I can now speak easily about the evolution of technology in the classroom, its potential, and the reasons why administrators need to free up time for educators to continue learning about technology use in the classroom.

My early academic training focused on liberal studies. This interdisciplinary foundation caused me to have a preference for learning things in layered context. For example, it is so helpful to have the historical, political, and psychological context to frame a field of study or connect to a theory. I found that the flow of assignments and related readings in this course made it easier to assimilate the large amount of information we were consuming in order to make sense of it. At times it felt overwhelming to narrow in on a topic in depth such as the learning theories paper when you had just barely touched the surface of learning theories. Then the annotated bibliography assignment zoomed my lens back out. I remember thinking that I should know the topic of my final paper before I completed the bibliography. Then I relaxed and let my interests guide me and I discovered that I needed to understand the history of learning theory before I could embrace an emerging theory. By the completion of my annotated bibliography, I had an idea about the topic of my synthesis paper. It turned out that the resources in my annotated bibliography were essential to finding new peer-reviewed research for my final study of connectivism.

I will definitely refer to various learning theories as they come up in conversation with teachers or my administrator about classroom practices or within the context of discussion during professional development. Practical solutions to the challenges of effectively implementing technology in the classroom will be especially useful. Teachers are already strapped for time and often on information overload so I look forward to suggesting a basic framework for technology integration, depending on each teacher’s current level of understanding, using my knowledge about connectivism and related pedagogy mentioned in my final paper.

The three assignments I referenced above relate to AECT’s 5th Standard (Research): Candidates explore, evaluate, synthesize, and apply methods of inquiry to enhance learning and improve performance. I identified application of these three specific indicators: Ethics – Candidates conduct research and practice using accepted professional and institutional guidelines and procedures. All assignments mentioned required use of the APA format and proper credit given to the source. Assessing/Evaluating – Candidates apply formal inquiry strategies in assessing and evaluating processes and resources for learning and performance. All assignments required us to evaluate our resources in order to identify a topic for research, specifically, the annotated bibliography. Theoretical Foundations – Candidates demonstrate foundational knowledge of the contribution of research to the past and current theory of educational communications and technology. The entire flow of readings and assignments achieved this in total.

As much as I enjoy the practical aspects of educational technology, this course made me realize how much our profession is in need of more research based practices. Not only do teachers deserve greater respect and might gain it from this knowledge, our students deserve the best that we have to offer.

Check out this link from teachthought.com. It has a great visual showcasing the various learning theories.

Emerging Technologies & Learning Theories

My first design

reduce-reuse-recycle

The elementary school I work within is a LEED certified school. We have weekly announcements that educate us on environmentally friendly practices that we can participate in at school and at home. Since “reduce, reuse, recycle” is such a part of our vocabulary, I decided to create my own infographic using canva to make a related and memorable statement about how to begin integrating technology in a meaningful way. I based my three key words, “rethink, repurpose, reflect” off of the research I did over the past two weeks on Connectivism and TPACK.  Teachers are so overwhelmed with new initiatives and technology integration that I decided to start small as I begin to think about how to introduce my vision as the new instructional coach who understands technology integration which was not a skill set of the previous coach. My study of learning theory and emerging technology has helped me synthesize the information into a bite-size chunk that hopefully takes hold with the professionals at our school.

One of the founders of Connectivism, Downes states,”to teach is to model and demonstrate, to learn is to practice and reflect.”

Rethink: This word was chosen to get teachers to rethink their lesson design and pedagogy. Sometimes technology drives the planning and sometimes technology gets inserted after the path to understanding the content is explored.

Matt Koehler, the creator of TPACK states, “Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationship between these components of knowledge situated in unique contexts.”

Repurpose: This word was chosen from my Connectivism research which emphasized that educators are using lots of technology that was never specifically designed for the classroom. Therefore, teachers need to have enough creativity and play time in order to envision how the tool or app or site can be repurposed for use in the classroom.

George Siemen’s said, “Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.”

Reflect: This word was chosen for its dual purpose in supporting the learning process for teachers and students. Here is a great video that merges Connectivism theory and TPACK principles that include reflection.

David Denton writes, “Finally, there are implications that relate to the discussions that educators are having about educational practice overall. Arguably, conversations relating to the standards movement have occupied a large portion of this discussion (Parkison, 2009; Ravitch & Chubb, 2009). Perhaps, further investigations relating to reflection will assist in realigning the content of these conversations toward significant ideas about teaching and learning. Arguably, the construct of reflection has the potential to assist in this process because it represents the human capacity for higher-level thinking and our ability to assign meaning to our experiences.”

In conclusion, the theoretical foundation and pedagogical practices espoused need to be a good fit for the professionals and existing culture within your environment. It is from there that any hope of adopting a progressive view about education can begin.

Reflection 3: Connecting the Dots

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I have spent a lot of time reading and thinking about the history of educational technology and my future charge as an instructional coach in order to understand how people develop different mindsets about technology, how education responds to the socio-political climate, and the complexity of quantifying learning in general . As I delved further into the peer-reviewed research on learning theories and the gradual refinement of what educational technology encompasses, I first was overwhelmed with the amount of new vocabulary. It was smart to include a living edtech dictionary on moodle! I also found this one on teachthought.com. How can we possibly move forward with technology and learning in our schools when we don’t even share a common vocabulary? The lack of understanding of terms used during professional development (PD) can cause participants to feel confused and ridiculously behind, both of which aren’t conducive to learning. I plan to carefully introduce sets of educational technology vocabulary depending on the PD I am giving so that I start off without insulting and losing my audience of learners.

The next aha I had during this module was the fact that most teachers desire the “Why and How” behind any new initiative. In my district, technology devices show up in classrooms. Teachers understand that their students know these devices better than they do and teachers often see the devices as expensive toys or distractions to the learning environment. I aim to show and support teachers about how students can include technology in their learning and how teachers can use the data collection to finally use meeting time to discuss solutions. I will now be able to support my recommendations with connections to theory and pedagogy.

As the work of my annotated bibliography came to a close, it was time to write my introduction. What does this collection of research mean to me and how does it support further inquiry? I have always struggled at the idea of working within ONE particular theory. My mind naturally looks for the gems in all things so I often end up with a mish-mash of guiding practices depending on the level of rigor required at any given point in a unit. However, I do find it refreshing to examine learning theory now that information sharing devices are part of the equation. Here is a quote from George Siemens, a founder of Connectivism:

“Connectivism presents a model of learning that acknowledges the tectonic shifts in society where learning is no longer an internal, individualistic activity. How people work and function is altered when new tools are utilized. The field of education has been slow to recognize both the impact of new learning tools and the environmental changes in what it means to learn. Connectivism provides insight into learning skills and tasks needed for learners to flourish in a digital era.” (source)

Finally, I am very interested in challenging myself to live out applications of a theory in its totality and see what happens. As well, I want to know more about the idea of information flow within organizations and knowledge management. With as much access to information as we have, it is vitally important that we stop to think about it and incorporate it in a meaningful way before it is lost or we lose our sense of community due to an inability to share out information in a timely and meaningful way.

 

Lesson Plans and Learning Theories

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This week we were asked to reflect on our own teaching practices and lesson creation as they relate to a conscious or unconscious application of various learning theories. Before this course, I honestly didn’t write lesson plans with specific theories in mind. I have a general philosophy about how I structure learning tasks and create classroom culture, but my ability to attribute components of my philosophy to educational theorists has been rather amorphous. My typical lesson planning time begins with reviewing the objectives, crafting lessons to practice or meet the objective, and then figuring out how technology might assist students in reaching the target.

Here is a random sample of a sketch of lessons I created in March: Michelle’s Lesson Plans

The lesson plans referenced revolve around a theme of eggs because it was around Easter time and eggs are easy to include in an interdisciplinary way. As you can see from the lesson plans, the day begins with some students creating a class newsletter. I supply the template and the students supply the images and content. The newsletter is then shared out to families of our classroom. This type of learning falls under the constructivist theory that is a branch of the Cognitivist school of thought. The newsletter provides students with an authentic task and a relevant audience, parents. Elements of connectivism are present with this assignment as well. It is self-directed and collaborative in nature. Here is an example of the March newsletter.

Another sample from my lesson plans show students completing a webquest on the author, Patricia Polacco, who is known for her wonderful book Rechenka’s Eggs. As Tom March states, “When a WebQuest poses an open-ended question, students must do more than “know” facts. Open-ended questions activate students’ prior knowledge and create a personal curiosity that inspires investigation and brings about a more robust understanding of the material”. (March, 2003, Open-Ended Questions section, para 2). Cognitivism emphasizes that simply finding knowledge alone does not necessarily result in a transfer of learning. That knowledge must be applied in a different context to demonstrate transfer.

The culminating activity of our egg themed week was for students to work in a group of three or four people and design a structure for our egg drop. I defined the types of materials that they could bring in for their structure, but the materials they chose were up to the group. This activity is an example of anchored instruction with some elements of problem based learning. Students are involved in solving a problem, but the problem does not connect directly to a real world scenario. According to Barab and Duffy (as cited in Jonassen & Land, 2012) the components present in problem based learning include:

  • Doing domain-related practices
  • Ownership of the inquiry
  • Coaching and modeling of thinking skills
  • Opportunity for reflection
  • Dilemmas are ill-structured
  • Support the learner rather than simplify the dilemma
  • Work is collaborative and social
  • The learning context is motivating

My final thoughts center around the fact that I do incorporate elements of constructivist teaching methods.  I include lots of practice opportunities that involve a great deal of learning conducted socially before students are expected to construct meaning on their own. However, the small group work my students embark upon does not come close to the characteristics of practice fields or communities of practice mentioned in chapter two of Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2012). However, I do utilize what Jonassen and Land refer to as digital repositories. Like the authors mention, it is up to the teacher to scaffold and appropriately integrate such resources so that learning is truly student-centered and results in the construction of knowledge.

Sources:

The Learning Power of Webquests. (2003). Retrieved from                                   http://tommarch.com/writings/ascdwebquests/

Jonassen, D., & Land, S., (2012). Theoretical Foundations of Learning Environments (2nd ed.).          New York, NY: Routledge.