Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Elementary Integration of Educational Technology

Two years ago, I was solely dependent on Twitter, Facebook, and any other ed tech for connecting with educators who wanted to move forward. Last year, I was hardly on my VPN in order to connect with my students, coworkers, and community. Toward the end of this past spring semester, I found myself with a desire to log in because I needed (and still need) help.

Some of you may remember what happened before and Why Our BYOD Club Didn't Work And It's OK.

It all started during our initial workdays before students came last fall. I approached our elementary principal to inquire if our students could use electronic dictionaries since the school year before our leaders didn't want tech such as iPads or even Wi-Fi in the building. Her reply this time, "Why not let the students bring iPads?" Umm, hmm. Didn't expect that. Let me think about it. Yes.

From there, our principal, the three 6th grade homeroom teachers, and I collaborated on how to incorporate a BYOD program for our sixty-eight 6th grade students. The tricky part would be for our school to catch up with the students' resources. You see...61 out of the 68 students already had devices of their own (almost all were iPads) while some of the remaining students already planned to purchase a device of some kind. These devices would be used primarily in my Science and Critical Thinking classes along with my Foreign English classes. Why? I was the only teacher with any experience in this realm, the other teachers didn't know how to utilize tech within education (especially Chinese education), and well, to be honest, I think because I am American (or a foreigner in their eyes).

A little over a month later, the school allowed students to BYOD. Slight problem: we didn't have any Wi-Fi. Therefore, I had to create hotspots every class, and the speed was less than acceptable for my standards. In the spring semester, our school acquired building-wide Wi-Fi, and we were able to upgrade the bandwidth. Hardware was cooking though it took lots of patience on my part. I was relieved when the students came off more patient than I was internally.

The apps I used with the students included Evernote, Safari, ClassDojo, QQ, and (2nd semester) iMovie. I didn't want to introduce too much that was new since I knew we would have kinks to work through. This was, after all, the first year for numerous dreams of mine taking off. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

There are many areas that I need to grow, ask wisdom about, and apply to our school in this upcoming year. A big reason for that is also that the leaders have had me lead our elementary in integrating more technology into our daily methods since last spring, and they have asked me to continue that this upcoming year. Some steps are taking longer than I expected, but I am learning so much about what the bigger picture entails.