Wednesday, January 29, 2014

iTeach, Therefore I Am

Several years ago I attended the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Northern California Regional meeting. I attended a session on teaching animation in primary and middle schools with Barbara Cohen who, at the time, was Director of Technology with the Marin Country Day School.

Barbara Cohen
Barbara began her workshop with introductions and went out of her way to explain to all the other people in the room that she'd known me for a very long time. She added that I had taught her everything she knew about teaching video production with students.

I was a bit embarrassed about this introduction to the group. After all, the work I did with Barbara was at least 10 or 12 years earlier. We worked together on a project I created that taught students video production with VHS camcorders and linear video editing equipment. That process became obsolete long ago.

It occurs to me now that Barbara was really saying I had taught her an important lesson about the power of teaching with multimedia in the classroom. More specifically, I had taught her the value of engaging students in media production in the classroom.

Student video producers circa 1994
Classroom media production projects create an environment that promotes a deepening of student understanding of the content in their classes. Student media projects are also an integral part of student assessment in the modern classroom -- especially in 1:1 schools.

However, today students make their own videos on tablets and cell phones, and publish it for the world to see -- without the help (or even the request) of their teachers!

Which brings me to iTeach 2014.

At San Domenico School technology is a vital tool in the entire educational process. Teachers use it for their own personal productivity and for managing their educational resources and student grades and information. More importantly, because we are a 1:1 iPad school, we are engaing our students with technology every day. Having a powerful research and communication device stuffed in your backpack provides amazing access to information. These devices also include a variety of tools we now call Apps. Students use them to collect, analyze, and produce their own projects based on their research.

This is all fine, as long as everyone knows how to use these tools.

In a recent survey of San Domenico teachers, 82% said they publish course materials online using a variety of "cloud" resources including Moodle, Blogs, Google Sites and Drive, Box, Turnitin, and our Library web page. 93% of our teachers say they engage their students with digital tools in their curriculum 25% of the time or more in class. Almost 40% of our students are required to complete some sort of digital portfolio as part of our curriculum.

92% of our teachers say their comfort level with using technology in their classroom is 5 or higher on a scale of 1-10. 68% said they were a 7 or higher. On the same scale, 77% of our teachers answered 7 or higher when asked how important it is to continue to expand the way they integrate technology in their curriculum.

When teachers were asked to name the most important areas for us to focus when thinking about ways to improve technology integration in our curriculum they answered:

   "More professional development"
   "Technology specific curriculum development"
   "Time to collaborate with my colleagues"

Whether it be regular faculty meetings, one of our school level technology committees, outside conferences and workshops, or the creation and delivery of  iTeach 2014, our teachers want to learn from and teach their colleagues what they know about teaching with technology.

Sharing what you know, and being willing to learn from others is certainly a hallmark of teaching and the teacher very often becomes the student when it comes to technology. Now, with  iTeach 2014, San Domenico teachers and other leading technology using educators come together to teach and to learn about using technology to enhance student learning.

Thank you Barbara for reminding me that engaging students with technology on a regular basis is a powerful way to deepen their learning. I look forward to learning with you at iTeach 2014 this summer.

Brad Lakritz
Director of Technology

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