Through a more proactive approach to organizing and even teaching tech-ed courses, media specialists can put themselves at the forefront of improved use of technology in the K-12 environment, the author says.
The author suggests that media specialists begin by familiarizing themselves with the nature of the problem, and she recommends reading the “CEO Forum Report” (available at http://www.ceoforum.org). The report states that only about a quarter of K-12 schools are using technology effectively, and it lays out some general strategies for improving use of technology in the classroom. The report emphasizes that teacher training is the base for improved performance, and that cooperative arrangements with businesses can help students see the applicability of their training to the working world.
Once familiar with the overall circumstances of technology education, media specialists can apply various techniques to their particular school districts. The author suggests the following:
• Participating in all tech-ed planning meetings, as well as informal discussions with teachers;
• Working with administrators to create hands-on courses, not just more lecture-style courses;
• Utilizing online courses (such as the Apple Learning Interchange, http://www.apple.com/education/k12/ staffdev) to supplement classroom exercises;
• Making sure that technology staff development is considered part of all initiatives to improve student learning;
• Promoting mentoring programs led by teachers skilled in technology usage; and
• Finding and promoting a “best practices” model for the use of technology.
The author also says that offering shorter courses with a particular focus or theme is more valuable than adding additional generalized technology courses. This will help teachers understand how to implement technology to achieve a specific goalfor example, meeting state proficiency standards for students graduating from a grade level.
With a well-rounded program and convenient times at which courses are offered, media specialists can appeal to a wide range of school system employees, including substitute teachers, office staff, and parents. This will help further diffuse technology savvy throughout the system and down to the students.