4.1.e Maximize the Potential of Technology for Learning

1e. Connect leaders, educators, instructional support, technical support, domain experts and solution providers to maximize the potential of technology for learning. 

The source in this project will not be identified for privacy reasons. 

Background 

In my school district, the Middle School Dual Language Immersion Program began piloting a program to support Dual Language Immersion students’ literacy development in December of 2021. This program has purchased a digital literacy learning platform called MM. Our district’s Dual Language Immersion program lacks literacy materials and assessments to align curriculum and literacy standards from kindergarten to 8th grade. It has been challenging for district and school leaders to measure dual language immersion students’ literacy development in the target language since each immersion school uses varied materials and assessments to teach literacy. 

This digital tool is a customized, cloud-based guided reading platform for second language learners from kindergarten through middle school. Their online classroom offers an integrated range of learning tools that have been designed to be user-friendly and engaging, allowing each student to follow their learning journey toward developing knowledge of the language and improving personal proficiency outcomes. 

In February, a survey was conducted on students’ and teachers’ attitudes toward this learning platform using Microsoft Forms. As reflecting on one of the survey results from both teachers and students, kindergarten and first-grade students have experienced challenges logging into the platform independently due to the long username and password. Without logging into the platform independently, it resulted in kindergarten and 1st-grade teachers spending a significant amount of time helping students log in during instruction. Students cannot use the platform outside of school time. It defeats the purpose of providing students with literacy support at home. 

Learning and Success  

A solution was to integrate this digital tool into our district’s current cloud system called Clever. However, the integration did not go well due to the system requirements and miscommunication among teachers, tech support staff, and vendors. As a teacher leader for our Dual Language teaching team, I believe in maximizing the potential of this digital tool for learning, and we need to establish a dedicated support network for our teachers and students. Therefore, I worked closely with our international school leaders, district technology support leaders and staff, technical support from the vendor, and teachers to identify the integration issue and address and solve the issue in the Professional Development workshop. At the end of the workshop, our team of leaders and tech support staff confirmed that the integration could not be implemented due to the district system requirement. However, the collaboration during this process has demonstrated the following learning and success: 

  • Our current technology support from the district lacks a follow-up support network and feedback channels for teachers and students to share and request additional support. For example, after the district approves a digital tool, this tool is available for teachers and students to use without any further integration support, or the district assumes follow-up support should be provided from the vendor. 
  • Our teachers and students rely on getting technical support from the district by filing a “tech ticket.” Using a tech ticket to ask for help requires teachers and students to understand the tech issue and the language and terminology used to describe their questions and decode the answer received back from the tech support. While teachers tried to file “tech tickets” and received responses with complicated instructions and tech language, they were less motivated to continue moving forward in using the tool for teaching and learning.
  • Although our team could not make the integration happen successfully, teachers in the workshop had opportunities to express their feedback and suggestions in the process. Technology leaders from our district recommended and facilitated other solutions, for example, using a different browser to remember username and password. The vendor’s technical support also provided accommodation by shortening usernames and passwords for kindergarten and first-grade students. 

In conclusion, we need to build a support network established by leaders, educators, instructional support, technical support, domain experts, and solution providers. Teachers can get support from this network to maximize the potential of technology for learning in schools. Moreover, this network should be implemented as the district’s expectation for all technology learning tools to strengthen the confidence and motivation of teachers and students.