This past school year my school district implemented a 1:1 Chromebook initiative. As a new employee to the district, I was excited at the many opportunities that a 1:1 teaching environment would provide for my students. However, it seemed that many teachers were uneasy about the new technology plan and nervous about using the devices in general. As the year progressed, the Chromebooks were primarily being used as an online textbook; to take tests, turn in electronic worksheets and papers, and to play review games. Basically, the Chromebooks are being used as a new mode of lesson delivery. Without my experiences in the MAET program, I would be in the same boat as the rest of my staff. However, I feel that I look at technology use with a different set of lenses than most of my coworkers and believe that technology can be used to provide an entirely different learning experience for our students. Specifically, the Chromebooks should be used to help promote 21st century skills, but in order for teachers to be able to create lessons that facilitate this goal, they will need additional resources.
In order to make connections with a range of teachers, I decided to create a survey that focused primarily on the role of technology in classrooms, technology concerns, teacher interests and teacher preparedness in the use of new technologies. Here are links to the the survey and the survey summary. Based on my analysis of the survey results, teachers are most concerned with how students are misusing their Chromebooks and the various distractions that this causes. Furthermore, it seems that teachers are primarily using the Chromebooks in order to complete activities that would be similar to what they would have done on paper, rather than creating diverse lessons that enhance 21st century skills in the students. As I further analyzed the data, it seemed that the majority of teachers need more time and resources in order to help them create more relevant, 21st century lessons. In order to further dive into this issue, I asked myself the question “how do we get teachers the appropriate support to enable them to develop 21st century lessons?” This question will further help me to develop a broad range of ideas in the ideate mode. Overall, the empathize mode allowed me to more completely identify with the teacher population on my campus and provided information to not only better define my problem of practice, but also provided a platform to scaffold ideas for a solution that I will use later in the ideate mode.
Based off of my work in the empathize mode I was able to develop a more complete view of the audience in which the problem most significantly impacts. The primary audience includes teachers, however administrators as well as the student population within the school district are also of concern. The knowledge gained through the empathize mode, then helped me to create a more concise problem definition:
“How to provide teachers with opportunities on campus in order to create 21st century lessons, which are enhanced with technology, that both increase student engagement and content mastery.”
As a result of this information, I was able to get a more specific idea as to what I would like to further investigate as potential solutions to the problem. Primarily, this would include methods that would provide teachers with appropriate professional development opportunities. This is necessary to help build their knowledge bank of technology tools and skills. In addition, to being armed with the necessary resources to incorporate these tools into relevant and engaging lessons for their student populations. The professional development must be relevant to teachers needs and wants in order for them to be willing to dedicate their time and attention toward the opportunities.
As a way to brainstorm during the Ideate mode, I met with two other teachers who each had different experiences using technology. The most significant ideas that came from the brainstorm session were not necessarily laid out solutions, but a means to get there. Primarily, we discussed the need for there to be a cultural change on my campus in order to begin to change teachers perceptions about technology use and also to encourage them to develop new skills that will help them create engaging, 21st century lessons for our students. After the brainstorming session, I was left with a lot of great ideas to ponder. I created an Incubation Journal, to continue my thinking throughout the week. Throughout both the brainstorming and incubation processes I was able to develop a wide range ideas that would help me to design a potential solution. Of these, the most impactful idea was the need to change the cultural of my school’s campus in order to promote the effective use of technology. As a result,of this process, I feel that I was well prepared to create a prototype for a solution in the next stage of the design process.
Armed with fresh ideas from the ideate mode, I was able to develop an initial prototype as a solution to my problem of practice. The main goal and objective of the prototype was to create a technology integration team amongst a group of classroom teachers who are excited about using technology to transform their teaching in order to better meet the needs of our 21st century student population. This team will share their ideas, strategies and experiences with other teachers on campus in order to increase teacher knowledge and expertise of how to best use technology within the classroom setting. Furthermore, the primary objective would be to enhance lessons with technology in order to increase student engagement and content mastery.
In order to test how my technology integration team might fair on my campus, I decided to interview a group of coworkers. The individuals I chose to interview had a wide range of technology skills, some use technology quite often in their lessons, while others do not. In addition, each were from different content areas. My goal in the interview process was to see what my colleagues thought of my prototype, get any suggestions, and answer a few questions that I still had about the actual implementation of a technology integration team. Before the interview began I drafted several questions based off of my original prototype so that I was able to get more accurate and beneficial feedback about my design. For the most part, the teachers seemed to give positive feedback to the overall format and ideas behind my prototype. Each teacher said that they would all appreciate any extra help to guide them through using technology within their own lessons. A couple of them were even interested in participating on the team itself. All teachers agreed that we would need administrators to help support and lead in the development of the technology team. We also discussed that it would be beneficial to have a place, such as a website or even a Google Doc to share ideas with both members of the Tech Team as well as with other staff members. Overall, each teacher thought that it was a need on our campus and that it would be feasible to accomplish.
Additionally, I think that there will be several things that I will need to assess before my technology integration team can become a reality. First, I will need to officially meet with administrators to get more specific feedback on how they might be able to support such a technology initiative in terms of time, money, or talents that may be required of them. I must as well inquire as to whether or not teachers could get any LPDC credit for their time working on the program. I also want to inquire on the current status of the previous technology team that was in place. Is it still an active program? Would these individuals also be interested in working on this new initiative? I found the testing process to be helpful as I was able to discuss my prototype with an audience that will most directly be impacted by the technology initiative. Based on my colleagues’ opinions and ideas, I have more information to further refine and revise my prototype.
Throughout the entire design process I have come to the realization that a single problem can be much more complex than initially identified. The empathize and define modes, illustrated this as I learned more about my audience, their specific needs, and the many concerns that were ultimately at the root of my problem of practice. Ideation only furthered this realization in that there are multiple angles to look at the problem, which resulted in developing multiple solution sets. It seemed that many of these ideas could be a potential solution and it was up to me to determine which ideas might lead to the greatest positive impact on campus. My first prototype included the creation of a technology team on campus. It is important for me to recognize that while I think this is a good solution, it is not the only possible solution, and based off of my testing data, I may need to revise the prototype or develop a new one to better suit the needs of my audience. Through all of this, I have also come to realize that it is imperative throughout the design process to have an empathetic view of the specified audience as I begin to create and develop possible solutions for my problem of practice. I must also be both flexible and creative in order to be a successful designer. It is important for me to be able to create multiple solution sets that break outside of the norm in order to develop a best possible solution to my problem. Armed with these skills, I am better able to meet the needs of my audience and hopefully provide them with a well laid out plan to solve my identified problem of practice.
Please find a whole list of appendices on my Google Doc.