The vision of the Alberta Learning and Technology Policy encompasses a “learner-centered responsive education system with shared responsibility and accountability-one that engages community and provides inclusive-equitable access, flexibility and opportunities for innovation that promotes excellence” (Alberta Government,2013).
While this statement above leaves much room for interpretation, the numerous pages that follow this definition of this report are explicit in their descriptions and outlines how this vision will be achieved through five main “policy directions” of focus: 1.Student-Centered,2.Research based,3.Professional development,4.Leadership [administration support], and 5. Access [infrastructure](Alberta Government, 2013). Although all of these sections would be important in a school setting, I was fairly interested in the areas of Professional Development and Leadership, as these concerns have surfaced in many conversations pertaining to Emerging Technologies.
When looking into technology policies, another area of focus should be spent on what type of technology resources are being used. This opens up the topic of Open Educational Resources (OERs). According to SETDA (2015,p.1), OREs are “teaching and learning materials licensed in such a way that they are free and may be used, reused,remixed, and otherwise customized to meet specific needs.”In other words, OER are teaching, learning, and resource materials, tools, and media that are in the public domain or are available under an open license so that they may be used and repurposed freely by educators, students, and self-learners.
The article from SETDA goes deeper into how these OERs are useful in schools and policies to observe when using online resources that are open source. The policies found in this article should be considered when evaluating a district’s technology plan. OERs are available for anyone to alter, even people that may have malintent. But the use of open resources have no justification if a district technology policy starts with no “student-centered” goals.
Julia Fisher consulted with Warren Danforth [an educational consultant] about the real meaning of a technology policy and the intent of production and use. This article from Education Next evaluates technology policies in schools with a need to “Keep in mind the planning starts with identifying needs of stakeholders—student and teachers, and how they do their work and learning activities—not technology. A technology plan without a focus on the daily activities of users isn’t much of a plan”(W. Danforth for Education Next with Julia Fisher, 2014).
It is with the identification of needs where this next bit of information comes into play for the Nellie Mae Education Foundation. This report emphasizes the benefits of integrating technology into schools and the complications a district may run into. First, this study states that “43% of students feel unprepared to use technology as they look ahead to higher education or their work life”(Moeller & Reitzes, 2011). This is not much of a positive but offers several potential benefits that are looking into. The benefits from Moeller & Reitzes (2011) are:
1.Help diagnose and address individual needs (adaptive)
2.Equip students with the skills for… the 21 century.
3.Provide active experiences
4.Personalized learning in a cost effective way
5.Can provide ongoing feedback to teachers
The benefits listed above are just a few of technology but the policies written for schools need to remember that they are written for the students first, the technology is an added, and often times amazing tool that should be sought after to enhance lessons.
Alberta Government. (2013).Learning and technology policy framework. The Building Alberta Plan. Ministry of Education. Retreived from https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=https://education.alberta.ca/media/1046/learning-and-technology-policy-framework-web.pdf on July 27, 2016.
Fisher, J. (2014)Do states really need a technology plan? Education Next. Massachusetts. Retreived from http://educationnext.org/states-really-need-education-technology-plan/on July 28, 2016.
Ensuring the Quality of Digital Content for Learning.Retreived from https://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.setda.org/wpcontent/uploads/2015/03/Digital_brief_3.10.15c.pdf on July 29,2016.
Moeller, Babette & Reitzes, Tim (2011) Integrating Technology with Student-Centered Learning.Education Development Center, Inc. (EDC). Massachusetts.