Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

IWB Workshops, Anyone?

It’s instructive to see the only current workshop topic offered by our local school district’s technology department is “SMARTboards II,” for both elementary and secondary teachers.

IWB Workshops Anyone? (Edmond Public Schools, Oklahoma)

These workshop listings sadly reflect, unfortunately, a broader trend I’ve seen in other places in the midwestern USA. Teachers are interested in IWB (interactive whiteboard) training. Administrators are interested in their teachers taking IWB training. This reminds me of educational technology workshops in the late 1990s, when many educators were interested in taking classes like “Introduction to Microsoft Word” and “Intermediate Excel.” I’m not categorically opposed to IWB workshops. I’ve taught a few myself, and have taken some as well. Last April I completed two days of Smart Notebook training (Day 1 and Day 2 notes are available) in Saint Louis at CSD, and learned a great deal. I think there are so many OTHER important and relevant workshop topics related to learning and technology integration today, however, that it’s a bit depressing to see a list which focuses exclusively on IWBs.

If I’d been alive when overhead projectors were first introduced into schools, I’m sure I would have been amazed at the popularity of “meet your overhead projector” workshops offered at schools. This is a photo I snapped in an Oklahoma City high school library in June 2009. Overhead projectors remain THE most ubiquitous technology in many of our classrooms and schools. (Note the photo below is from OKCPS.)

Overhead Projectors at US Grant High School in Oklahoma City

It’s also interesting to review the “Interactive Technology Resources” which are available on our local district’s technology department website.

Interactive Technology Resources - Edmond Public Schools

Contrast this list of resources and these technology workshop topics (from our local school district’s website) to those offered in the FREE, K-12 Online Conference in 2009. Contrast these listed resources with Joyce Valenza’s “New Tools Workshop” wiki. Notice any differences?

According to page 3 of the “Edmond Public Schools Technology Plan 2008-2013,” all of the 23 members of the January 2007 Technology Planning Committee, which provided input for the plan, were current employees and district staff. Based on the document, it appears no parents (who were not current district employees), outside business people, or other community stakeholders were included in the formulation of the technology plan.

According to page 20 of the plan:

Edmond parents are involved in every aspect of the District. They are active members of the Technology Planning Committee, the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory Council, Parent Teacher Organizations and Parent Advisory Councils at various schools.

Given this latter statement, the absence of parent names on page 3 of the report (listing “Technology Planning Committee” member names) is curious. Perhaps parental involvement in technology planning has been enlisted since the tech plan was completed in January of 2007? If so, no evidence of that involvement is currently present on the district’s technology department website.

In 2007, the Oklahoma Technology Association named Edmond Public Schools “the state’s outstanding school district in technology.” As the previously linked article highlights, there definitely ARE many outstanding teachers in the district, and some of those are using technology in exemplary ways to support teaching and learning. It is instructive to see the priorities of district reflected on its official websites, however. 1 to 1 student learning with student laptops is not on the radar screen of the district YET, from what I’ve seen to date. Yet. Vision is something that can always grow and expand at any time, however. 🙂

I wish I could serve a constructive role in helping educators (including administrators) in our local district as well as our state technology association further develop a vision of digitally infused, student-centered, constructivist learning. I’m very enthused to be teaching two sections of Technology 4 Teachers at UCO this spring, and our lineup of Celebrate Oklahoma Voices workshops for 2010 is starting to take shape. These are important activities and contributions for educators in our state, I know. I still which I could do more locally, however.

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One response to “IWB Workshops, Anyone?”

  1. ashley Avatar

    Hello there! I just want to let you know that when I saw the picture of the overhead projectors, I definitely did a laugh out loud. It’s crazy how fast technology is booming!

    I am a current user of the SmartBoard and I do enjoy it. Every teacher in our district is required to know how to use and we have to use it in our classrooms. I came from an area that is still using overhead projectors and is moving to the Elmo stage of the overhead. So the SmartBoard still amazes me, and if I ever move to a district that doesn’t have it, I’ll be sad without it.

    I thought I would share that with you. Thanks for blogging that! It was very interesting!