My first thoughts on what polices will help my district prepare for future emerging technology is that you have to have a plan for piloting and trying new technology. Unfortunately, there is no crystal ball that will help you see what emerging technology will actually get results in schools. This type of policy has to provide some money and allow excited teachers to try and use this technology with their students. It must also include a robust assessment process to see if you actually get results. If it gets results, the technology committee must look at infrastructure and budgets to see if this could implemented in a larger scale. At some point a cost – benefit assessment will have to be done and a decision will have to made as to whether to go forward with the technology or not or not.
The Southern Regional Education Board believes that districts and states should support and foster initiatives that help assess emerging technologies for schools. They believe that the work of piloting this is too much work for individual schools or teachers to deal with. They feel that education needs to be more systematic with finding emerging technology than a shot in the dark approach.
In Tech & Learning’s article K-12 Blueprint suggest three areas that should be addressed in any technology plan. They include:
- Is your plan focused on student learning?
- Does it promote responsible use of technology?
- Does it meet current state and federal regulations and standards?
One issue that needs to be discussed when thinking about policy on emerging technology is accessibility for everyone. Auburn University’s “Policy on Equal Access to Emerging Technology” explains the process they must consider when implementing emerging technology. It starts by asking these four questions:
- How does the use of the technology enhance the learning experience for the students?
- What benefits and opportunities are available to the students through the use of this technology?
- Has the developer of the technology considered accessibility?
- Will accommodations result in the same enhanced learning experience and/or benefits and opportunities as the new technology?
These four questions get to the heart of what needs to be dealt with when dealing with emerging technology. Accessibility, especially for special needs children is an area that many teachers and administrators don’t think about until too late. I believe this should be one of the first things to be dealt with. If everyone in your class is enjoying Minecraft except for a child with impaired vision you may want to rethink what you are doing. Of course, in the case of Minecraft you can make some simple accommodations and this student could still enjoy Minecraft. The point is that accessibility should be well thought out before you spend a ton of money or have already started a unit. It really sucks for students to be left out in the classroom!
How can I help lead my district in creating these policies? I believe I have done this in the past and will continue to do this in the future. We pilot lots of products, technology and methods and try to use them with students. When we have success we share it with the rest of the district. We know that if you want to create change you have to show results. Once you get results people can’t argue that we shouldn’t implement something. If you don’t get results, you can’t create systematic change. The hard part is being willing to get messy, trying new things and find out what works.
Emerging technologies: foster strategic decision-making that assesses emerging technologies and determines their relevance for education. SREB. Retrieved on 7-26-16 at 2:11 pm. Found at http://www.sreb.org/emerging-technologies.
Ensuring the quality of digital content for learning recommendations for k12 education. SETDA. Retrieved on 7-26-16 at 2:40 pm. Found at http://www.setda.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Digital_brief_3.10.15c.pdf.
K-12 Blue Print: Policy & Leadership. Tech & Learning. Retrieved on 7-26-16 at 2:14 pm. Found at https://www.k12blueprint.com/toolkits/policy.
Policy on equal access to emerging technology. Auburn University. Retrieved on 7-26-16 at 2:20 pm. Found at https://sites.auburn.edu/admin/universitypolicies/policies/policyonequalaccesstoemergingtechnology.pdf.
Policy Direction 1: Student centered Learning. Alberta Learning. Retrieved on 7-26-16 at 2:00 pm. Found at https://education.alberta.ca/learning-with-technology/policy-direction-1/.