Patricia Brown, who started as technology director for the Ladue School District in Missouri in July, already has important ideas about how to use technology effectively in the classroom.
“I believe we now have an opportunity to really look at our system and see the educational services we’ve been delivering to our students, our teachers and our parents — our entire community, all our stakeholders,” Brown said. Say. Now is the time to “challenge some of the things that have always been” and think about how schools can improve the education of all children.
Brown is no stranger to the edtech space. For 11 years, she has been the instructional technology coordinator for the district of 4,300 students. She currently serves on the board of directors of the non-profit International Educational Technology Association.
During her 21-year career, her work as a Technology Integration Specialist has been awarded many times: she received the Ladue School District’s Excellence in Education Award in 2021, is a member of the 2019 Apple Distinguished Educator Program, is one of the National School Board The Association is one of the 20 Most To Watch EdTech Leaders in 2016 and has been named one of the most influential EdTech influencers in five years by EdTech Digest.
Here’s what she talked about in a Zoom conversation with Education Week about what’s next for technology use in the classroom, the biggest technology challenges facing schools, and priorities for her first year as Ladue’s Director of Technology.
The following interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.
What is your philosophy when it comes to using technology in the classroom?
For a long time – especially early on, when we were first adopting technology – it was always about “wow,” which is a cool thing you can do. I remember thinking when we first adopted the iPad, it was always the whole mantra: “There’s an app that does it.” We just pulled out so many resources, so many tools, so many app, which is totally overwhelming for teachers. So I started thinking what exactly do we want students to do with this technology? What can technology do? Where can it take us? Where can we provide these opportunities for our children to become creators, producers and critical thinkers, not just consumers of technology?
For me, it’s not an add-on when I use technology with my students. It’s not just a cool thing you do. It is integrated into the classroom, part of the curriculum, and part of the learning process.We learn through technology, we learn through technology, and we allow it to provide opportunities we wouldn’t have [had] forward.
While the past three years have been tough in the education system, I do believe it has created opportunities for us to engage our students like never before.
Fairness is an important part of my philosophy. I feel that when we use technology as a consumer tool, we are doing our students an inequity. The real goal is to provide opportunities for them to invent, to create, to produce, to connect and communicate with people beyond the four walls of the classroom. That’s a very powerful thing we’ve learned through COVID. While the past three years have been tough in the education system, I do believe it has created opportunities for us to engage our students like never before.
I know every student learns differently, but what technology allows us to do is differentiate [and] These different opportunities are available to our students. It enables teachers to grade papers in a more efficient way, lets them launch courses, lets them interact with students, and lets them create more innovative projects.
The school continues to push technology use to the next level. What does this mean for education? Where are we going from here?
What we’re left with as we get through this pandemic is a generation of students who are very different from the pre-COVID era, which means their level of engagement is something we’re trying to align with our re-education work. By.So one of the main things that’s going to change in the format of education is to focus on student engagement, but also on balance – how to balance the use of technology in the classroom As well as the amount of resources and media that exist now and the “distractions” that keep students focused.
When it comes to technology, I don’t think it will be more technology. I think it will be: let’s see what we already have. Let’s take a look at how to use these resources to their fullest potential and what we can create from existing resources. Video will be a big part of that, allowing students to showcase what they know in more unique and creative ways.
You’ll research other ways you can get involved – even learning management systems and using different ways for students to turn in assignments. You will have some non-traditional classrooms.
I think it’s going to be more of a bespoke way of educating our students because I do think we have different kids now, so we have to cater to their needs.
What are the biggest technological challenges the school is currently facing?
One of the biggest technological challenges facing most schools is still trying to provide resources for students and teachers.
What we’re suffering from right now is virtual burnout. I’m actually researching and doing my Ph.D., so one thing I’d like to know is: Does the experience of teachers and educators with COVID build their confidence in using technology? Are they using technology more effectively and frequently in our classrooms because of COVID?
The answer is yes and no.
Yes, they are more confident in the use of technology. I think teachers are more willing to take some risks. [But there’s] A bunch of teachers, they like to say, “I don’t want to have anything to do with this because the last two years have been tough, so I want to take a break from technology, I really just want to get back to the basics.”
So I think the challenge for education will be finding a balance: how do we know when to use technology and when we need to go back to basics?
How do you address teacher tech burnout?
It was a challenge because as a technician, as a tech coordinator, and now as a tech director, of course, technology has always been my number one priority, it’s my job. However, as a teacher, as an educator, as a parent, I’m also deeply connected to my human side, and I’m always looking at things from a different perspective. I understand why. Not “Oh, they just don’t use technology”, and that’s it. What is the source of the problem? Is it because they were exhausted because everything they tried to use didn’t work that day and was just frustrating? Or have they been using the tool nonstop and want to do something different but don’t know how? Just ask the right questions and ask the whys.
Of course, you will always meet some people who are absolutely anti-tech. But in general, getting to the root of the cause always helps me because I can say, “Okay, I have a suggestion. Let’s try this.”
Professional study is very important. I support unique ways for teachers to embrace professional learning. I love lunch and study, I just invite teachers for short stops of 15 or 20 minutes where I teach them something new, but they bring lunch, and they’re idle – chatting or talking and asking questions, This is just an informal way. Playdates: I have teachers go to the Apple Store, play with technology and learn that way. Children love to learn through play. So do teachers.
What should the use of quality technology look like? What shouldn’t it look like?
I’ll start with what it doesn’t look like. It doesn’t look like kids are sitting on their devices and not communicating with each other at all; developing a drilling practice app where they’re practicing their math skills and that’s pretty much all they do; or they just put them The technology is used for testing purposes and the only time they use the technology is when they are preparing to take a test or when they need to complete an independent task.
It looks like a natural way to look at courses and find ways to integrate technology. Instead of taking the technology and then trying to adapt to the curriculum, take the curriculum and find a different way to instruct my students – I’m going to use the technology to create a really engaging slideshow to engage my kids. I’m going to embed some videos. I want to embed some GIFs in my slideshow. I want to add Nearpod. I will add some interactive components when instructing or teaching my students.
[Quality technology use] It doesn’t look like the kids are sitting on their devices and not communicating with each other at all.
Once students are instructed and they have the information they need from you as an instructor, how do they apply that knowledge? Are they able to take this knowledge and make videos? Are they working with a partner or team to design a STEM challenge that integrates with what they’ve learned in the sciences?are they on the array Hunting because they were learning about arrays in math class, so they walked around the school with their iPads taking pictures of the natural arrays they saw around buildings? Are they making stop-motion videos of changing states of matter?
how they apply [the learning]? Are they creating, producing, developing things? Are they able to take the knowledge they have and use it in a natural way?
How should ed-tech leaders determine which tech tools to stay and which to stay?
It really depends on student demographics, budget, and available resources. It really comes down to what works for you, what works for your region, what challenges are you facing, and what technical resources and tools can be your solution.
I do think it’s important to be proactive in making sure you’re in sync with the new things you create that help make learning more accessible and feasible.
We have Apple devices in our district, which I love a lot, but we also have Chromebooks that we also love, and they fit our purposes and needs. So I really think it boils down to assessing your needs in the area, looking at your budget.
[When it comes to the budget] Sometimes districts allow their budgets to dictate the type of resources and technologies they have, and in fact I think it should be more: let’s assess what is the best tool and best resource for our district, and then let’s find a way to pay way for it.
I think it’s important to continue to use resources that will provide opportunities for our students to collaborate, connect, create and share. So no matter what the tool looks like to you, I would say, use it.
What is your biggest priority this school year?
One is data privacy and security, to ensure that all our data is safe. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, and it’s targeting not-so-honest people in different regions, so this is the number one priority.
My other priorities are making sure there are systems and processes in place to use technology across the region. One of the cool things is that in this role, I have the opportunity to join the curriculum and teaching department.Technology is now part of the curriculum and teaching, which is the perfect combination for me because it allows [technology] Be part of the conversation that happens in the course, and the course becomes part of the conversation that happens in the technology. We are working together towards the same goal, and we make sure our students and our teachers are aware of the resources available. So my priority is to make sure that this process and the seamless integration between the curriculum and technology happens as much as possible.
Innovation is also another priority, ensuring that we are driving and driving our students and teachers to be future-ready; ensuring that the training, resources and technology we use are state-of-the-art, up-to-date, available and accessible to all our students Get ready with the teacher.
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