Sunday, August 26, 2012

Nursing Meets Instructional Technology (An Experience to Remember)

My oldest son recently tore his ACL. It was obviously a very disappointing experience for him as he has worked so hard this summer to be sure he got some play time on the varsity team and from all indications of the coaches it looked like he would. This past Wednesday he went in for surgery. This is certainly a tough experience for any mom (not to mention the son who is actually getting cut). When they took him to the holding room to give him the sleepy juice his dad and I were allowed to go back with him. What I saw back there intrigued me, excited me, and affirmed my career choice in a way that little else could have. As you can imagine in the holding room several patients are waiting to be put under for surgery meaning that several nurses and an anesthesiologist were on hand. What caught my attention were the computer stations on wheels they were rolling around instead of paper charts. A nurse in her mid-forties initially began attending my son. I overheard her say that they were no longer allowed to use paper charting and had to input all the data into the new computer system. Curiosity got the better of me and she was a friendly nurse so I began asking questions. How did she feel about the computerized system? Did it speed up or slow down the process? Did she find the system user friendly, and did she feel that the overall implementation created a more efficient, effective medical process? Her responses to these questions were disappointingly negative. She then told me to question the doctor on his feelings regarding the new computerized method. His responses were very positive. He is late 30’s early 40’s in age. He spoke very highly of the equipment and what it meant for the efficiency and effectiveness of the utilization of the equipment. It was really comical that the entire time the doctor was providing his input the first nurse stood behind him shaking her head no. Eventually the first nurse and doctor moved on their way. A few minutes later a second nurse walked over to where our family was waiting in the holding room and very quietly said “I do not make this known but most of us like the new system”. I asked her what her birth year was and what do you know it was after 1980. This is significant based on Marc Prensky’s data regarding digital natives versus digital immigrants ( See http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/prensky%20-%20digital%20natives,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pdf). The second nurse preferred this new computerized method for charting patient information and all other details entailed in her job. The sad fact was that due to pressure from older nurses; likely in positions of authority, she felt the need to hide the fact that this was indeed her preferred method of facilitating her job functions. From my perspective multiple things are happening here. The first interesting fact that crossed my mind is the convergence in the workforce of workers who are now from two significantly different worlds having to find common ground to effectively carry out their assigned duties in a manner that allows co-worker congeniality to continue to persist. The second interesting fact was that a gap in preferred methods for carrying their prescribed job functions is present and capable of creating a dysfunctional workforce due to dis-satisfied frustrated employees who prior to the influx of technology in the workforce coupled with the lack of adequate preparation as well as the unwillingness of employees to embrace change with a positive attitude; instead (as nurse number two stated) digging in their heels in an attempt to hang on to more familiar ways that do not force them out of their comfort zone. The third and most important fact that this entire experience brought to mind is that integrating technology into current instructional curriculum is no longer an option but a must. We can no longer accept from veteran teachers or brand new teachers statements like; "I’m just not comfortable with technology", or "I’ve been doing this successfully for 30+ years and plan to keep on doing it; or most importantly “I just can’t learn that”. Accepting that in education is like continuing to operate on patients using the same techniques used in the 1300’s, or washing our clothes on washboards instead of in washing machines, or even ironing our clothes with coals instead of an iron. Successful societies depend on progress and the willingness to embrace it. As educators we expect our students to walk into our classrooms with open minds and willingly digest all of information we desire to give them. This is a great expectation as long as we as educators are willing to accept the fact that as educators our own education can never cease, and that since the primary function of education is to prepare students to be productive members of a modern society we must be prepared to arm ourselves with the necessary skills and ability to effectively educate them. Learning is on- going, not something that ends when they place our diploma in our hands, and we must be willing to continue doing so. True educators are not in it for the money but for the intrinsic reward that comes with knowing that we have played an important role in preparing tomorrow’s generation of learners for a society that we can barely conceive today. This simply means we as educators must willingly continue to educate ourselves and force ourselves to grow and stay one step ahead of today’s learners. The career affirming portion of this discussion came when I realized that what I was witnessing in play before my very eyes is the world that today’s students must walk out of high school equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to handle in an effective, efficient, positive manner. Not only does instructional technology provide an undeniable means of student engagement it also provides the undeniable skill set that will benefit students for generations to come. Education must remain at the forefront of society and the demands thereof in order to best serve the needs of society that students are being prepared for. Personally, in-spite of the circumstances involving my son, this was a very exciting experience for me. It made me aware of the fact that not only do the new Common Core State Standards demand the integration of instructional technology in a meaningful manner; society as a whole demands that we provide our current students with the necessary skill set to be successful not only nationally but internationally as well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Schlechty Learning

I attended a great conference in Tampa Florida this week. It was a WOW conference which is a program based on principles laid out by Phil Schlechty, an innovative specialist in education. I found the WOW conference to be very thought provoking. The focus in education is enhancing student engagement to increase student learning in an effort to improve student outcomes. Education is designed to create well informed productive 21st century citizens capable of being productive members of a 21st century workforce. In order to do so I truly believe that we are going to have to rethink some of the ways we as educators are facilitating education. If we keep doing the same things that we have always done we are going to get the same results we have always gotten, and the problem with this is that times have changed. Times have changed, the workforce has changed, and simply put society as a whole has changed. The question then becomes why would we want to get the same results from our students that we were getting 10 years ago. We have to modify education so that we can produce citizens capable of meeting the demands of today's society.

The bigger question, and the focus of this conference, is how do we modify education so that it embraces and engages today's learners so that they can meet the needs of today's ever changing world. One point brought out during this conference was do we want an educational environment that is bureaucratic in nature or do we want to create learning organizations? My hope is that we want to create learning organizations. Most people would ask the question.....what is the difference? The difference is that a bureacuracy is designed to efficiently administer rules, regulations, and policy.It is a very rigid environment and not conducive to growth and creativity. It creates walls and boundaries that prevent both teachers and students from realizing the joy of learning that education can offer.

To become a learning organization these walls must come down. We have to offer educators and students the freedom to grow and develop the learning environment so that it becomes one in which today's generation can flourish. Focusing on the proper organization of Schlechty's six critical systems is a great way to start doing so.

It was a great conference. As always it is good to meet new people. Randy and Keisha it was great working with you!

Monday, July 13, 2009

NECC Wrap Up

NECC today was beyond great. This was the first time I presented...well co-presented at a national coference. I had a great time. Brian did an excellent job with his CISCO presentation and even better with our Jing presentation. I also attended a session on Activ Inspire which is the latest software used in conjunction with the promethean board. It is interesting to know that they now offer boards in three sizes and that they come on a stand which with the push of a button raises and lowers the board to accomodate student height. That is fantastic. I think that is one of the best possible changes they could have made. The software looks promising. They are currently in the process of working out any final bugs. I am excited to learn more about it. It was a great session overall and can't wait for next year.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Digital Locker full of 21st Century Tools



Above is a cool blog site that I just copied because it was in the favorites. I do not think it has anything to do with the actual workshop I am in now, so I guess I should probably focus on that. This presentation pertains to google applications and how to ustilize them effectively in your district. http://lucie.typepad.com/ This website is the presenters web site that she listed for us. I will revisit that later to see what is offered there. The presenters offered two blogsites which are http://www.infinitethinking.org/ , and http://vvrotny.org/. Both of which will be investigated at a later date as well.
The rest of the session focused on tools offered through google such as google docs, google sites, google videos, etc. I currently use all of these and find them to be very useful. These applications provide students with real time collaboration opportunities. They allow students to author and edit their own work as well as provide real time feed back on the work of other students. The provides an avenue for a student driven classroom where the students take real ownership of their work, thereby keeping them engaged and excited about the material they are learning. Just to clarify google docs provide a collaborative suite of office like applications. There is a presentation app, a spreadsheet app, and a word like app, to name a few. Overall the presenter did a decent job, but the only new item I learned was how to create a form, which I found to be very useful. 
In a manner of wayside learning I was reminded of what I consider to be a good resource. This resource was http://tedtalk.com/. Another site mentioned in this session that I also like is http://tinyurl.com/. A couple of sites that I discovered that I was not aware of are http://tinychat.com/, and http://tinypaste.com/. I can see all of these becoming very useful in the future.
The session was good and I look forward to other such sessions in the upcoming days. 

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Interactive Videoconferencing

So far so good. Good information and good resources. The session I am in right now is discussing going green with videoconferencing. A representative from the Global Nomads Groups spoke first. She made us aware of the fact they they are capable of providing classroom collaborations, as well as teacher professional developments. They break information down by themes, strands, and aligned to state standards. Some of what they offer is free. Their contact website is info@gng.org , or www.gng.org. I am very excited about brining this information into our district.
Bev Maddox spoke next and spoke on something that is a passion mine which is student created content. She focused on the fact that with student created content the action is focused and very real to the students. Videoconferencing does indeed provide the opportunity for student collaborations that  are student created and student driven products. Student created content promotes student voice and a lot of student ownership that allows students to develop a working knowledge of technology tool that allows students hands on experience that provides both rigor and relevance. Next up is Dave Slaymaker from Arkansas University. He made the point that utilizing videoconferencing allows students access to content they would not otherwise have access to. Real teachers in real time.  He is from the Office of Distance Education and the website provided is ode.asmsa.org. They offer k12 courses in any subject. They also offer flexible scheduling, AP classes, with Highly Qualified teachers. 
Next up with a discussion on professional development. He made us realize that with the equipment we have the opportunity to bring in amazing speakers from around the world without the overhead cost. While it would not be completely free it is considerably cheaper to only have to pay for an instructors time without the cost of travel. The CILC website has many professional developments available. A book was highly recommended that is sold through ISTE, Videoconferencing for the k12 Classroom. 
Next up is Dawn offering resources that are available. Some of these are: www.cilc.org, www.twice.cc, and http://www.kn.pacbell.com/wired/vidconf.htm. Other material that are uploaded from this workshop are listed on the NECC website under Going Green with Videoconferencing.
From here we moved into a skype session discussing the different aspects of funding videoconferencing. Some ways of funding are through grants one of which is,  USDA Rural and Distance Learning Grant, (RUS, targeting rural schools and communities), another is of course through ARAA. The first pot is through the stabilization phase, in September more will come down through school modernization and technology, you can also find your state application on the dept. of ed website, E2T2 is another way this money will be funneled through the state to the district. E2T2 monies will begin July 1, 2009. E2T2 must be filed separately but not Title I or IDEA. 4 Billion will come through Race to the Top (focus on substantial student gains), Invest in What Works (650 Million). October is when the apps will be posted, December is when those apps will be due, and money will be dispersed in March of 2010. There is also vendor grant assistance. Polycom and Tanberg are 2 vendors that do indeed provide grant assistance.  Polycom assists in the navigation of the grant process. Tanberg grants team researches and identifies funding sources that have an IVC peice, they then meet with those who have need and strategize a plan even to the point of making writter connections to help get the money, however they do not leave you there, they also help you through the implementation process. 
Overall this was a great session with very informative presenters. It is my hope that IVC will grow and really take root in our district this year. 

Monday, June 15, 2009

An IPod, Sight Words, and Keynote = Learning for my 4 Year Old

My office mate introduced an idea to me this week and I couldn’t help but to run with it. The results were amazing. I have a wonderful 4 year old named Ethan. He is incredibly bright. He is already reading and writing. Needless to say (considering his age), Ethan’s favorite mode of learning is through an electronic device (of which he has plenty). It was suggested to me, by Mrs. Packer, to put his sight words in keynote (Mac’s version of power point), record my voice saying the words, upload them to the IPod , and hand it over. I did this and you would not believe the results. Ask a child to sit down with you and go over some flash cards and see how long you maintain their interest(I tried that first), and then try this method. I assure you the results you see will be impressive.
So imagine this; a room full of kindergarteners or even first graders all gathered on the carpet with IPods in their hands, hearing, seeing , and saying the words. Imagine the level of interest, retention rates, and not to mention the different learning styles you are accommodating.
Let’s take it a little farther. Imagine a history class in which students walk in the door to iPods preloaded and ready to go with the lecture of the day. The students immediately pick up the devices and get moving. Once they have finished listening and taking the necessary notes, the teacher is then ready to take over with a dynamic, interactive discussion, or Socratic questioning session. The students are learning through a medium that is exciting to them. They are allowed to move at their own pace, and the opportunity is provided for real, thought provoking feedback. The lectures can also later be uploaded to a learning management system like Moodle, or even iTunes for remediation purposes.
Technology in education provides so many avenues to reach and engage this generation of students. My question is how do we make the connection between 20th century educators and 21st century learners?

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Twitter

So, I have been hearing great things about Twitter and finally decided to check it out. I liked it immediately. Thomas Friedman has made the argument more than once that "The World is Flat", and I am now a believer. Sorry Columbus! Imagine that at the touch of your finger tips which are already attached to a phone you communicate thoughts, ideas, locations, warnings, etc...at any given minute. Why is it better than texting? Because you can check on more than one person that you are "following" with out having to have any real time communication. So if you are just curious as to what your friends are up and do not want to text each one individually to satisfy your curiosity just pull up your twitter connection and have a look.

Before I really delved into what Twitter is and what it does I called a friend, Jeff Browning, and asked him to investigate Twitter and give me a positive report on how this tool can benefit society. This is what he came back with: Rachel why not find a way to utilize Twitter to benefit people who are in long term care homes. He felt that it would be a great way for these people, who are often disconnected from many of their family members more than they would like to be, to communicate their own thoughts, or simply check on their friends and loved ones. I was very impressed and now I would like to see one of our upcoming seniors in the school district that I work in take this on as a Senior Project. The upcoming senior could host a fund raiser to raise money to put computers in a given nursing home or long term care facility. The senior then could work with our sociology teacher to have a group of students volunteer their time training the employees, residents, and family members of this facility, and then monitor the data for results.

It amazes me more every day the new technologies that are becoming available that can do great things to improve communication in society if utilized appropriately.