How important is technology in education? What technology-related skills can you contribute to a school district?

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Twenty-First Century skills, and the world with Google, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia and the internet, have changed how knowledge is accessed and the exclusive need to memorize facts. The amount of information available to humankind, with an internet connection, is incomprehensible. However, many of the tests created by teachers, districts, and states are fact-based tests with a scattering of higher order skills on the better assessments. We are not preparing students for our current society. The "need to know" facts are less important that the skill of finding and filtering information readily available (see Too Big to Know by David Weinberger). Whole economies are changing. Companies are providing services to customers at less than free (paying you to use their products) and succeeding. Yet education is stuck in the past when knowledge was not ubiquitous, and assessment was a tool to determine who had acquired knowledge. Consequently I see technology as vitally important to students as they compete in a global society. Furthermore, I would like to see technology used to change assessments knowing that students upon leaving public education will rarely be without a calculator, a dictionary, or infinite encyclopedia. In the near future most people will not be far from all world knowledge through the internet. For example, many districts have too many restrictive policies limiting teachers from helping students learn appropriate uses for technology, like restrictive cell phone and internet use policies. I think we need to redefine how and when we use traditional assessments, and move to more portfolio, product based, assessments of real tasks and real problem solving (like the atmosphere at many successful companies). I applaud the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) with the accompanying Smarter Balanced Assessment that I believe is moving Connecticut toward this information rich society.

I have been working on implementing the CCSS in modifying my district’s curriculum in light of what students need upon graduation, outside of simply using knowledge to pass college entrance tests. My goal with future employment is to continue this effort, bringing with me knowledge of the CCSS coupled with my master’s degree in Educational Technology from UCONN. I will work to highlight areas of curriculum schools are excelling and where change can positively affect student learning. The CCSS is a beginning framework to identified areas that should be reviewed. I bring with me experience working with 21st century skills including 24-7 learning through the internet. I also bring with me experience of implementing the Smarter Balanced Field Test of 2014 ( to over 300 students in both grades 10 and 11), and Smarter Balanced Summary Assessment of 2015 (to over 150 students grade 11).

As a school leader it is important to create a sense of urgency to make change, especially change as dramatic as creating new curriculum and a new pedagogical paradigm. To help create this sense of urgency, I look at or collect relevant data and determine what students need to know and be able to do to compete in the global economy. Using this data I create a network of individuals who can collaboratively work together and create change. For example, to help other administrators and teachers see the value of allowing students to work on real problems, I would invite the leaders and teachers to watch live demonstrations with students working problems and interacting with the world. I would demonstrate the power of the flat world (see The World is Flat by Thomas L. Friedman). I would encourage the leaders to start reading and participating (by writing and contributing) in online communities in an attempt to enlarge our individual personal learning communities (PLC). Professional development would need to change, as demanded by the new education law in Connecticut to accommodate 24-7 learning of both students and teachers.