ITAC Student Device Dialogue Guide

In The Adaptive School, Garmston and Wellman write about two types of conversation that groups use in their collaborative work.  The two types are dialogue and discussion.  Discussion is where we are headed – as we work to reach some decisions and recommendations.  But before we decide, we need to understand. To begin to dig deeply into our conversation around student devices, we want to be sure that before we begin to make decisions, we engage in thoughtful dialogue.  Here’s how they describe dialogue:

Dialogue is a reflective learning process in which group members seek to understand one another’s viewpoints and deeply held assumptions.  The word dialogue comes from the Greek dialogos.  Dia means “through” and logos means “word.” In this meaning-making through words, group members inquire into their own and others’ beliefs, values, and mental models to better understand how things work in their world.  In dialogue, listening is as important as speaking.  

Dialogue creates an emotional and cognitive safety zone in which ideas flow for examinations without judgment.  Although many of the capabilities and tools of dialogue and skilled discussion are the same, their core intentions are quite different and require different personal and collective monitoring processes. (p.49)

We have sensed that we have much to unpack before ITAC begins to make recommendations around student devices, and that a focused dialogue would be a good way to accomplish that.  As we prepare to begin our dialogue around student devices, a dialogue that has begun on our listserv, we wanted to provide ITAC Committee members with a framework for helping all of them to come to the meeting on March 20th with some of their best thinking ready to be shared via dialogue with the various sub-committees.

Here’s a link to a Google Docs template with the questions.

(You’ll be prompted to login to St. Vrain Google-land if you’re not when you click this link.  Then click on “Use this Template” to create an editable copy of the document that’s just for you to record your thinking. If you don’t have a St. Vrain Google account, here’s a copy of the document that doesn’t require a password to access.)

Prior to the meeting, we are asking ITAC Committee members to take an opportunity to explore these questions for themselves, and to seek input from others.

If you’re reading this blog post, then we are interested in your thinking around these questions, too.  Leave your thoughts in the comments.

PS – Michelle shared this additional article about dialogue if you’d like to know more.  We found it useful in our thinking.  

ITAC Meeting 4 – Field Trip!

At the last ITAC meeting, as we’re beginning to consider proposals for student and teacher devices, we sent the ITAC team on a couple of field trips to sites using two different platforms in an attempt to provide devices to students.  Conrad Ball Middle School in Loveland is exploring an iPad 1:1, while Flagstaff Academy here in Longmont is using lots of Chromebooks to support instruction.  Here is the agenda from that meeting.  You can see, in Activity 3 of that document, some of the notes from the team when they returned to discuss their observations.

You might also want to take a peek at some of the resources about Chromebooks and iPads we shared with the team prior to their experience.  Our next task is to begin to explore possibilities and recommendations for student devices in the classroom.  What advice or suggestions would you offer to the ITAC group as they move towards their recommendations?

ITAC Meeting 3: Outfitting Classroom and Lab Spaces

During this third meeting of  the ITAC committee, we began with an opportunity to adopt the final draft our Actions and Attributes document. The document will drive and define what we’ll look for as we make recommendations.

A majority of our meeting gave us an opportunity to begin thinking about learning spaces within our district – specifically classroom and computer lab spaces. Each group had an opportunity to review input from our Building Technology Contacts (BTCs) and from a district-wide survey we sent to all staff at the beginning of the month. You can find the links to that feedback in Activity 3 in the agenda.

The ITAC groups began to form their initial recommendations for classroom and computer lab spaces, but the final set of recommendations will not be made until we also have a chance to discuss three more realms:

  • devices for student use;
  • devices for teacher use; and
  • other learning spaces and resources

For those of you in the district, we hope you’ll provide the group with feedback as the recommendation process progresses. Our goal is to provide a thoughtful set of recommendations that will move our use of digital tools forward in St. Vrain. We’d like your input.

Guidelines for Instructional Technology Consideration – 1st Draft

Yesterday, we posted some of our early thinking on the Actions and Attributes work.  We are now ready to share with you the first draft of our collective thinking regarding instructional technology considerations that will guide our future work.  
In this draft, for ITAC committee input and suggestions, we are providing a summary of the committee’s original comments.  We want to make sure that we heard each group separately before moving forward with further synthesis.  Please mark up this document using document comments.  (Highlight the text you’d like to comment on, and go to the Insert Menu and select “Comment.”)

Specifically, we are seeking your input regarding the accuracy of our summary of your work, as well as, after further reflection, you’ve noticed that additional language needs to be present. 

Please add your comments, questions, ideas, and input to this document by noon Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 so that we can provide an additional revision for comment before our next ITAC meeting.  

(And, yes, if you’re not on the ITAC Committee, we are still seeking your input.  So get in there and get commenting.)

Actions and Attributes – An Emerging View

At our last meeting, we asked the subcommittees (Elementary, Middle, and High) to generate a collection of actions and attributes that demonstrated what they want St. Vrain classrooms to look like when it comes to learning and the use of technology.  Our notes are available for your review, and now Kyle, Michelle and I are digging in to so some synthesis and drafting of a document that will outline the group’s collective thinking on actions and attributes.

Here’s the interesting thing about those three groups working semi-independently to gather the specific actions and attributes that they’d like to see – it turns out, their conclusions are not that different.  

All of our committee members seem to be saying that they want spaces where students can create, can research, and can collaborate.  They want tools and learning environments that support students’ ability to talk and communicate with each other, their teachers, and the world.  They value learning for teachers as well as for students as a way of ensuring that new technology will be put to the best possible use.  All three groups suspect that instructional changes will need to happen in order for learning to be like they’d like for it to be.

And they want those spaces – those learning environments – to support flexibility, both when it comes to the physical classroom as well as the virtual.  They want resources and communication spaces available to students 24/7/365 from wherever those students happen to be.  And they want the devices that students and teachers use to learn to be portable and mobile, going along wherever those students and teachers happen to be.  

So we’re working to draft a document that says, well, those things.  And I think we’re making progress.  As we’re drafting, take a look back at those notes – what are we missing in our description above?  

ITAC Meeting #2 – January 31st – Digging Into St. Vrain Technology Data

Today, the ITAC group met in a new venue (Thanks, Trail Ridge MS, for hosting) and began to move from framing our work and into looking at an awful lot of data.  We attempted to give folks a pile of what they needed to know about technology and some related whatnot in the district in order to begin to make thoughtful and informed recommendations about what the future of St. Vrain instructional technology might look like.

While we tried to gather enough data to tell the whole story of technology in St. Vrain, we are certain that our data set is incomplete.  That’s where you come in.  As you review the data sources from today’s agenda, keep a special look out for what’s missing or incomplete.  What questions do you still have?  Please share your observations and questions in the comments.  We’ll incorporate answers and your input into future versions of these data sets.

In an attempt to make all of this data more manageable for the ITAC team we took the statistical average across the district and created three hypothetical schools. Everywhere Elementary, Majority Middle, and Hypothetical High. Check out the introduction video below. (Or click here)

MeetYourNewSchool from St. Vrain Inst. Tech. on Vimeo.

As a result of today’s conversations, we’ll be beginning our next meeting with a set of desired actions and attributes for the future of technology in St. Vrain.  Those will emerge in draft form and go through a couple of rounds of feedback prior to that next meeting on February 20th.  We’ll post the drafts here in a future post so that you can provide feedback, too.

January 16 Meeting

During the January 16, meeting, ITAC Committee members reviewed the purpose of their work and the process that will be used to make recommendations to the district.

The agenda and minutes from the first meeting can be found here.

Before the next meeting, read and review the documents posted in the Action Items section of the agenda. Below, post your answers to the following questions:

  1. How do our district curriculum and learning documents impact instructional technology decisions?
  2. Return to the assumptions about instructional technology you listed during our meeting.  How do these readings confirm them?  Challenge them?
  3. How do these ideas impact our work?

Thanks to Joe McBreen for capturing footage during the first meeting!