Instructional Technology Vision / Goals / Assumptions
Society is completing an evolutionary shift from the Industrial Age to the Digital Age. Accordingly, educational institutions must realign their practices, policies and procedures with Digital Age standards. Those that lag behind in strategic vision, realignment around technology, technology capacity, infrastructure, technology education, and establishment of support structures will be unable to fulfill their mission of preparing students for the future.
Technology has been a driver of change in such diverse areas as global communications, economics, the arts, politics, and environmental issues. While the world of business has readily adapted to and thrived upon technology innovation, the world of education has been relatively slow to reform.
Vision is needed to create new communication strategies, new paradigms for financing, new models for assessing success, and new models for educating. The Rhode Island State Department of Education (RIDE) has already begun much of this process including intense work on standards, infrastructure development, alliances with businesses and universities, and the recognition of the need of long range technology planning.
Our changing society and workplace require citizens who can take responsibility for their own learning and will being on a life-long basis. In addition we need these citizens to be able to work collaboratively, innovatively, and creatively. Educational reforms that help develop our citizens require a dramatic retooling of public education to leverage the power of technology in creating new and different learning environments. The time in RIDE is here think and plan strategically to further enhance comprehensive technology use in all facets of our operations.
The rate of knowledge generation and the corresponding demand for its use are rapidly increasing. We need citizens who can manage this vast increase in information. The life cycle of information continues to shrink. Much of what was learned a few years ago is no longer relevant.
It is projected that workers will typically change professions as many as five times during their work careers. Some estimates indicate that workers in the 21st century will require one year of formal instruction for every seven years of employment. Business have increased their technology education programs in response to employee needs for continuous professional growth. In addition, they expect all employees to be adept at using technology and information to support their roles. It is critical that RIDE follow this example.
A primary motivation to move toward standards-based education has been the increasingly important need to assess a person's potential by the knowledge the student has gained and can apply in real situations rather than by the number of years of school the student has completed. New paradigms indicate a shift in educational requirements focusing on subject matter rather than seat time. This is reflected by the dramatic shift in global business toward outcomes, not process.
Restructuring for the infusion of technology within an educational environment requires simultaneous changes throughout the entire organization and community. Teaching methods have to be modified, curricula updated, parent-school relationships modified, and organizational structures changed to expand communication and collaboration options. New technology is of little value if teachers do no use it or do not have access to staff development aimed at building their proficiencies in this area. Classroom support for their efforts at integration is also critical.
The Digital Age is representative of a time where the volume of information is increasing exponentially while its life expectancy declines. Fourteen years ago, there were less than 50 viable sites on the World Wide Web. Today there are over 600 million. To operate successfully in the environment, schools must change their philosophy both about how they collect, manage, distribute, and control information; and about their role in society.
It is important for the future that school produce critical thinkers capable of learning and navigating through vast amounts of available information. Many teachers use technology but do so merely as an extension of the existing learning model. The teacher must reconsider his/her role as the source of information and the student as the passive learner. Students must develop the skills necessary to become lifelong learners for individual success as well as for the economic stability and development of the community. This requires the interweaving of content objectives, process skills, and technology competencies at all levels of instruction as well as an extensive reformation in how we perceive teaching and learning. First and foremost, students must be able to access information, manipulate data. synthesize concepts, and creatively express ideas to others using video, text, and audio media. Technology can virtually bring the world to the child and provide teachers with a depth and richness of instructional approaches never before possible.
With the establishment of academic standards, technology can bring greater efficiency to both the instructional and administrative realms. This is especially important as teachers begin to use performance-based assessment to validate student learning and to maintain detailed records and learning profiles for all students.
In the future, the role of the teacher and administrator will expand into new frontiers. They will be mentors, architects, navigators, evaluators, synthesizers, analysts, and policy makers and assume any other role that will assure student success and overall district success. They will be the designers and visionaries who will make technology implementation in the classroom and district successful.
Administrative personnel must lead the way toward change. They must make clear strategic decisions and provide adequate support and technology education while creating technology-enriched learning environments in which people can do meaningful, quality work. They must, however, have access to decision support systems that can provide them with timely access to information that guides adaptations in the learning system for improved, better-targeted instruction.