I was asked to read the following presentation (Click here or download it at the end of this document), and I was asked to identify key elements I see as vital to my definition of Instructional Technology Leadership.
I hope that I will be forgiven for my wordiness in this instance. As I read through the presentation, I could feel the gaps in technological funding, training, and general lack of progress during my time as a student and as an instructor at a community college now consider the issue of funding more than I probably should. While a plan for funding and training may be in place where I work (a community college), the money and expertise that might be available during one fiscal year may not be in the next. I feel compelled to mention that as much of the beginning of the presentation revolved around funding issues.
My original definition of Instructional Technology Leadership was, “Instructional technology leadership within the realm of a system (such as the community college that I work for) is the institutional and individual commitment to enhancing students’ instruction by helping to facilitate growth among teachers/professors/lecturers in their ability to effectively utilize technological tools for teaching. It includes a commitment to implementing and updating technological tools for long-term educational sustainability.” In alignment with that definition, several key elements from the presentation seemed vital to my definition:
- Ease and equity of access – Tools such as computers, cellphone applications, and Ipads and highspeed internet/wireless connections are necessary if schools intend on enhancing student instruction in a way that will ensure sustainability. Without technological advancements such as these, movement forward into a technological future would be stifled and would diminish the educational experience and quality of instruction. Without advanced technologies, students are less prepared and the community college (where I work) may attract less and less students beginning a domino effect.
- Educational funding – I felt like growling when I read about the funding cuts. Not only are integration specialists and technologically savvy individuals important but the reduction risks backtracking and losing on technological momentum. That very truth was reflected in the importance of technology to student success shown side-by-side with the issues of teacher training in a variety of areas including online instruction. Even the slow internet speeds are a symptom of decreased funding. All of these issues are applicable to the community college system as they are real problems that develop from the same issue – funding. We have the same issues although I do believe our faculty tends to be a bit more advanced in online teaching skills with the aid of some of the online texts being used. Skills outside of interactive texts need to be developed significantly – an issue that might be resolved with funding and expertise.
- Online instructional content, tools, courses, and research – In the survey materials, of those surveyed (slide 11), 68% felt that the aforementioned items would be an issue without high-speed internet. The items are necessary in my courses from day one. Students are asked to view weekly folders that have supplemental videos and assignments in them. This falls in line with providing an enhanced learning experience.
- The aged computer issue (slide 12) – The aged computer issue can be a problem. As a person with some knowledge of hardware, I can confidently say that upgrades are necessary to keep up with new and evolving technologies. One only need consider the amount of memory (if you’d like to know more about memory: https://youtu.be/-aVhta7db2o (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.) a computer needs today to be useful. When I was young, one might think 512 megabytes was a luxury when now we are in need of gigabytes to hold all of the applications, photos, documents, and more in our ever-evolving technological lives.
- Electronic content delivery – (slide 28) It was no surprise to find that many parents find online texts. The college where I work has recently moved to a course charge model for the online e-text (as part of other technologies) can only enhance learning for students. Like the updates mentioned in the slides, the course-charge model affords our college the ability to request updates from the publisher.
- While I have great affection for online learning, blended learning is a step up from where we were years ago and where we are headed (which I believe to be primarily online learning with remote instruction as the blend rather than a classroom). This is highly relevant to my definition as well as I see a gradual transition toward increased technologies that will contribute to increased online programs and will contribute the long-term sustainability.
I feel like I need to stop here and move along. I will end this section by saying that while I appreciated the well thought out plans, I stand by my earlier comment which may be lost in all of the bullet points – that is, funding varies, so long-term planning can be problematic if not somewhat unrealistic when the funds come primarily from state and federal sources. It’s been my experience that the funding sources seem to change with the wind at times.
I was asked how the system has supported me as a learner, educator, or leader.
I can see parallels between the information in the Kentucky’s Education Technology System (KETS) and the community college some of which I mentioned in the section above. As a learner, my experience ranged from beginning in the classroom (without online options and we had dial up a.k.a. snail internet) to taking a fully online program with interactive presentations, videos, online e-texts, and more. As an educator (and at times, a leader), I have had the unique opportunity to see growth in technological advancements from dial up internet to fiber optics and high-speed internet, from hybrid courses to fully online programs, from printed books to e-texts with interactive activities, and so much more. I feel firmly placed in a learning environment where student learning has been significantly enhanced and is increasingly engaging as the college implements new technological training programs and upgrades technology tools. If the focus were to be firmly placed on continued learning enhancement, technology skill-building, engagement, and equal access, I can’t imagine the college not maintaining a stance that might eventually lead to long-term sustainability. As new technologies emerged over the course of my education and now into my teaching years, I have felt supported as a student who was and still is being prepared for a technological future. As an instructor increased technological tools have allowed me to provide higher quality, more engaging instructional experiences for my students. Ultimately, a system focused on increasing access to students is highly beneficial no matter what level of education one is working in.
I was asked to read the following and discuss The aforementioned items are a few of the changes many believe would not be possible without the implementation of Kentucky’s Education Technology System (KETS). Scholars, explore each of these aspects identifying two supported by your definition of Instructional Technology Leadership. Discuss the attributes of the initiatives and the impact this initiative can make in your ecology.
- The Kentucky Digital Learning Guidelines is something that I believe I have been exposed to before as teacher as part of a discussion of creating online course content. As part of the community college ecology, this is highly relevant as it:
- Provides guidance for content including building online content, blended courses, and texts.
- Digital pedagogy including my personal favorite that a student should have “…access to the course content anytime, anyplace and at the student’s own pace.” That section also covers qualifications of the instructors and stewards as well as collaboration and communication information.
- Technology readiness dictates that our facilities should be adequate and have the tools and citizenship skills conducive to digital literacy.
These guidelines are important in order to provide a quality experience using engaging content that is created and maintained by knowledgeable staff (part of my definition above) in order to create a long-term sustainable learning environment. One of the schools I work for uses Quality Matters (https://www.chea.org/userfiles/uploads/A%20Guide%20to%20Quality%20in%20Online%20Learning.pdf ) to guide our course setup which is part of what the digital learning guidelines document covers.
- The second document that appears to have some components that fit nicely into my definition and into my ecology at the community college is the Highly Effective Teaching and Learning Common Characteristics (HQTL) with Technology.
- The instructional rigor and student engagement section of the document dictates that through the use of technology and a variety of technologies, the teachers guide students in a variety of learning activities. This implementation of technology enhances the student learning experience as is part of my definition.
- Last but not least of the concepts I chose from the above document, was the section on instructional relevance – specifically, the teacher must have the ability to design considering student experiences and must be able to model skills and activities to be able to effectively instruct students. This speaks to the level of knowledge that instructions should possess and the need for quality training to achieve such a skill. This same section specifically mentions that the instructor should have the ability to “effectively design activities to develop 21st Century Learning Skills” – this is part of my original definition as instructors must be trained to provide engaging content that will lead students into the future ultimately creating long-term sustainability.
In conclusion, I was pleased to find a plan in place to expand students’ access to technology through training, increased available technologies and more access to high speed internet.
Other files used for this post:
- Digital Learning 2020: A Policy Report for Kentucky’s Digital Future (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Kentucky Digital Learning (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- Kentucky Career and Technical Education Skills Document (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.
- STLP: https://stlp.education.ky.gov/