The following paragraph from the Target Tech in Texas (T3) Collaborative Grant program guidelines document (page 9 of 47) summarizes what policymakers in Texas view as the ideal 21st century classroom environment:

In a 21st Century classroom, students have access to appropriate technology and digital resources for technology integrated curriculum activities on the campus, in the district, at home, or key locations in the community. Teachers seamlessly integrate technology in a student-centered learning environment where technology is used to solve real-world problems in collaboration with business, industry and higher education. Teachers and students apply technology across all subject areas to provide learning opportunities that are not possible without the technology. Teachers create and integrate web-based lessons which include TEKS-based content, resources, learning activities, and interactive communications that support learning objectives throughout the curriculum.

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The paragraph above would describe a level 4, or a “target tech” learning environment as defined by the Texas STaR (School Technology and Readiness) chart. The STaR chart and its associated websites were created to support implementation of the Texas “Long-Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020.” (PDF) For more on this long range Texas technology plan for schools, see my post, “Notes on the Texas Long Range Technology Plan: 2006-2020.”

The following are Texas STaR chart assessment options in the category “teaching and learning” for educators at the top “Target Tech” level of integration. (Available on page 11 of the PDF-formatted Teacher STaR Chart document.)

For patterns of classroom use:

My classroom is a student-centered learning environment where technology is seamlessly integrated to solve real world problems in collaboration with business, industry, and higher education Learning is transformed as my students propose, assess, and implement solutions to problems.

For Frequency / Design of Instructional Setting Using Digital Content:

My students and I have on- demand access to all appropriate technology and digital resources anytime/anywhere for technology integrated curriculum activities on the campus, in the district, at home, or key locations in the community.

For Content Area Connections:

My students and I seamlessly apply technology across all subject areas to provide learning opportunities beyond the classroom that are not possible without the technology.

For Technology Applications (TA) TEKS Implementation:

I seamlessly integrate Technology Applications (TA) TEKS in collaborative, cross-curricular units of instruction.

For Student Mastery of Technology Applications (TA) TEKS:

86 to 100% of my students have mastered Technology Applications TEKS.

For Online Learning:

I have created and integrated web-based lessons which include online TEKS-based content, resources, learning activities, and interactive communications that support learning objectives throughout the curriculum.

The advanced search portal for the Texas STaR chart permits visitors to search for Texas schools which have specific reported levels of technology readiness in different categories. For 2007-2008 STaR chart results, statewide only 86 campuses reported “target tech” level for online learning. At the other “levels” for online learning in 2007-2008, 491 campuses reported level 3 or “Advanced Tech” level, 5075 reported level 2 or “Developing Tech” level, and 1865 reported level 1 or “Early Tech” level status. If these numbers are accurate, that means there were 7517 campuses in Texas in 2007-2008 which submitted the required Texas STaR chart data for teachers and campuses as a whole. With only 86 campuses reporting “target tech” for online learning, that means only about ONE PERCENT of Texas schools (1.14%) under the purview of TEA in 2007-2008 were creating and integrating:

…web-based lessons which include online TEKS-based content, resources, learning activities, and interactive communications that support learning objectives throughout the curriculum.

Given the goals of the Texas “Long-Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020,” these statistics paint a compelling picture for the importance of educators as well as students regularly engaging in the 3 C’s of 21st century learning: Creating, Communicating, and Collaborating. This was my keynote theme at MASSCUE 2008 last November. Focusing on technologies which enable TRANSFORMATIVE learning experiences (those not possible without the technology access) was a key theme I shared at eTechOhio in February 2009.

We not only need to encourage more teachers and students to regularly COLLABORATE throughout the school year with each other (including learners outside the traditional walls of the school) but we also need to encourage teachers to CONTRIBUTE to collaborative curriculum repositories like Curriki. Participating in a free, online conference like K-12 Online can open educators’ eyes to not only the possibilities for collaboration in our digitally connected world, but also provide specific and realistic pathways forward to make collaboration in our schools a “normal” and regular occurrence rather than a “1 in 100 schools” characteristic.

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