Friday, May 4, 2007

Success stories... What's worked?

  • Using the Internet for career and educational counselling and planning
  • Teaching music by using specialized software to score music based on the specific instruments in the band
  • Parent portals which allows parents to keep dibs on goings-on in the school (homework, newsletters etc)... although issues surrounding the updating of those sites remains problematic... and what about the parents who don't have access?
  • Assistive technology for those with physical and mental disabilities, using technology to assist in communication and physical barriers.

There is a presumption that technology will "fix" larger educational issues... but in many ways teachers may feel overwhelmed by it.

There is not enough attention paid to sustaining the technological infrastructure or the processes that sustain them.

The difference between classroom uses and integration of technology comes down to the individual teacher that is really enthusiastic about technology... How can we transform that energy into something more systemically.

There is a sincere effort by teachers to engage kids with technology...

Breakout groups - Socio-Economic Status

There are fundamental assumptions of equal access; these assumptions may hurt equity rather than enhance it. CAP sites are not enough to bridge access gaps. The human issues are often forgotten when we get wrapped up in the hype of technology.

The education system is "requiring" technological access outside the home (for example; typed assignments, class registration), which will inevitably create larger gaps in equity.

Breakout Groups - Rural-Urban

Rural students are spending a lot of time on computers when they go home and use their computers, they go on the Internet when they get home from school and are logging upwards of 60-100 hours on MSN, Facebook, Second Life, etc... How can we use these strengths and interests to engage them in curriculum?

Web resources are powerful tools, but it is difficult to discern what are of value.

Current policies do not allow for software subscriptions to be paid for by budgets. ***

****Comment from anonymous... To correct the comment about subscriptions,that only applies to use of funds in the Credit Allocation for Authorized Learning Resources which are mostly acquired through the Nova Scotia School Book Bureau. One concern is that on-going subscriptions could consume much of the funding allocation while displacing planned purchases of textbooks, software and other learning resources in future years.Schools, School Boards and the Department of Education use other funds to acquire annual subscriptions to a variety of print and electronic resources. *****

More Professional development is needed and Internet-based PD, may be a way to assist rural teachers in remote areas who struggle with issues of substitutes for workshops.

The Iniutq website is an example of how geographic and cultural areas may use the Internet to bridge existing divides.

Breakout group - Culture and Race

The issues of culture and race are multifaceted, they often overlap with other issues of rural/urban and socio-economic students.
  • The Internet is predominantly "white" and ethnocentric
  • In general, most websites follow the same models, what would an afrocentric website look like?
  • There have been many ICT resources poured into "at risk" schools, however, not necessarily the training and staff to effectively implement the technology... particularly when there are underlying cultural/racial issues that need to be addressed
  • It is important to remember that there are cultural issues.... "sub-cultural" or "counter-cultural" issues that go beyond racial issues

Breakout group - Gender

  • Issues of transgendered difficult to approach because many online resources are negative or too sexual in content
  • Need to expose females to real-world role models working with IT
  • Initiatives like electronic yearbook production, film and video, mulitmedia may draw more female into certain aspects of IT
  • Possible multi-media/computer courses for girls only, which build on female strengths and interests around design and communication
  • Since boys are more integrated with technology overall... how can we use technology to assist in their learning process.

Web 2.0 ... The Machine is Us/ing Us

We showed this video to our workshop participants a few minutes ago. Partially in response to a comment that the computer was simply a tool... not unlike a fridge...

some of our "fantastic" notes...

Findings – gender, socio-economic, rural-urban, race, culture.

Gender – access around gender diminishing. But remains in other areas in consideration of equity.

Males on the computer longer, and report more skills – very high on confidence. Twice as many males report ‘expert’ status with ICTs.

Females using ICTs more for communication, as well as school work, reflecting an established positive relationship with school.

Differences then in use and attitudes towards ICTs – this has real social consequences.

Socio-economic status – translates into amount of use, type of use, skill development – using computers less.

Rural-urban – urban students show higher attitudes with confidence.

One participant noted that place matters – schools make a big difference in rural areas to mitigate inequalities – could be an important insight into the meaning of schools to communities. But someone also noted that it also creates greater risk if that school doesn’t have the capacity to fulfill its responsibilities.


Major impact access. Lower skill levels.

Teachers responses.

Teachers questioning ICTs within schools; taking energy away from traditional literacy skill development.

More computers in school classrooms isn’t necessarily the answer – return to this later. Important question…studies finding ICT isn’t necessarily translating into better learning outcomes.

Participant – what may be off is our expectations – kids see it as a tool. Dianne – it isn’t just a tool when it is connected to the internet – it is a new communications infrastructure – can access information and sources not previously possible.

One participant – over hyped initiatives don’t solve problems.

Teachers comfort level is essential to using the technology in the classroom.

ICT literacy as a form of social capital...

Emerging now is ICT as a form of literacy, in that it is considered a a critical skill for success in education and employment. It has been suggested that the average student will need proficient ICT skills to escape “McJob-like status” in the workforce (Menzies 1996).

ICT literacy can be considered a form of transferrable "social captial"... someone asked Dianne to define "social capital" Social capital is your network of connections and cultural resourses at your disposal that can help you get ahead in life. If social capital is transferrable, or convertible, these cultural resourses and ties can be turned into economic capital.

There are two types of social captial, bridging and bonding. Bonding social capital is capital generated within and between people of similar cultural groups, bridging social capital is capital generated between different cultural groups.


Equity is a big broad concept. What does it mean?

There are two ways to think about equity; the traditional structural issues surrounding equitable access. Does everyone have equal access to information and communication technology? If not, what are barriers to access? What role does the education system play in facilitating access?

The other way that we think about equity is beyond those traditional structural issues of access and considers the way students use technology.

Kicking off the day

Welcome to the Equity and Technology Workshop blog... we're live.

Dianne is about to present some of her key findings. We'll bullet them soon. Perhaps I'll describe a bit of the physical atmosphere today... We're going to have a laid back and relaxed workshop. This blog is very experimental, we hope you find it useful.