My mission is to inspire and educate others on how to use technology responsibly to learn, collaborate, communicate, and create content. Through these four areas, my goal is to empower people to be change-makers in their communities.
Diving in Deeper…
I had to really think about it when asked to come up with a personal mission statement for my role as a Technology Coach. When I was a classroom teacher my goal was to build a personal relationship with each child, teach to their diverse needs, and help them fall in love with learning. Although I don’t have my own classroom of students to love on and impact, my new role extends my sphere of influence to a broader audience. I love working with K-8 teachers to leverage technology in order to improve student learning. I want to help both educators and students use technology in four purposeful ways:
- Learn: I want to help teachers and students use technology wisely to explore the world around them.
- Collaborate: equip teachers and students with the skills necessary to network and work with others in an online world.
- Communicate: Assist teachers and students by helping them learn to navigate different platforms and mediums to share what they’ve learned and contribute new ideas.
- Create: Empower teachers and students to use technology to improve the world around them.
I believe that we can leverage technology to impact the world around us by focusing on those four areas above. With an emphasis on being stewards of the resources we’ve been given, I want to inspire those in my community to use their knowledge and talents to improve their world.
I have 3 guiding principles that will help me reach my mission:
- Equitable Learning Experience
- Digital Citizenship
Equitable Learning Experiences
One of my goals as a teacher or Technology Coach is to fight for every student’s right to an equitable learning experience. During my graduate studies, I became aware of the digital divide in our nation and in the world at large. As the divide grows, it feeds new forms of digital discrimination. Think of the advantage some students will have if only the wealthy school districts can purchase one-to-one devices and state-of-the-art tech. But it is not just owning devices that will fix the problem. As digital education leaders, we need to push curriculum developers to design tools and content that fit the needs of all diverse learners. In my blog post, A Roadmap for Choosing New Technology, I suggest ways to test new tech with an equity mindset. For example, one of the best ways to see how the technology works is by letting students test it out. Assemble a pilot group that represents a diverse student population: high and low performing students, native English speakers and English learners, students participating in SPED, and from various cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Examine them closely to see how they are using the technology. Can they navigate the platform? Are they enjoying it? Is the language accessible to them? Can they access the technology from home? We also need to analyze student data from different angles to determine if it is widening equity gaps (Gonzalez, 2018). For example, is the technology helping the high performers, but meanwhile, the low performers are falling behind? While I personally am not writing national curriculum or creating new technology, I do have an influence on what type of technology is being used in my classrooms and perhaps at a school or district level. I can start fighting for digital equity right where I am at.
Another guiding principle that will help me reach my mission statement is digital citizenship. Technology Coaches need to advocate for and help educate others on how to teach digital citizenship in our classrooms. A digital citizen is someone who uses technology to engage with others in social, political and learning environments online. I have seen from my own experience that our students need more guidance on how to be good digital citizens (adults too!). Campbell and Garner (2016) point out in their writing that we need to critically engage with technology and not become passive users while online. They illustrate their point by talking about a hammer. It can do a lot of good if it is used correctly, but can also be quite destructive if placed in the wrong hands (Campbell and Garner, 2016). If not taught how to use technology responsibly and wisely, we run the risk of exposing our students to many harmful things: inappropriate information, pornography, cyber-bullying, and violence just to name a few. Prensky (2013) also discusses the topic of digital wisdom. Most of our students are born into a digital era and would fall into the group of “digital natives”. They are well adept or pick up quickly digital literacy skills: researching, networking, collaborating, creating, contributing, etc. However, we also need to have an emphasis on practicing digital wisdom: being able to take those abilities to solve problems with the help of enhanced technology. Therefore, one of my goals is to help students develop digital wisdom along with digital literacy skills.
Furthermore, students should also understand other practical information while participating as digital citizens online. For example, how to protect their identity and understanding how companies data-mine and sell information to marketing companies. As a Technology Coach, I can help others interact responsibly and safely online. To illustrate the point further, you would never let a 16 year behind the wheel without going through driver’s ed. We need to put a higher importance on helping our digitally native students navigate the online world before giving them too much independence.
Most importantly, I pray that my time as a digital leader will help empower other people to be catalysts in their communities. ISTE Standard for Coach 7a states explicitly that a goal of technology coaches should be to “Inspire and encourage educators and students to use technology for civic engagement and to address challenges to improve their communities” (2019). It would be a shame to spend so much time and energy equipping the next generation with powerful knowledge and 21st-Century skills if we did not encourage them to use those abilities to make a difference. We can help raise up a generation of computer scientists, engineers, and inventors who can help improve the human condition by solving problems. To start off, we can teach our students how to be kind, thoughtful, and critical thinkers as they engage with others online. We can cultivate change-makers who make a difference in their communities and the world. As technology advances, let us not be swept along in the tides of change as passive and silent consumers. Let us engage critically and use our abilities to bless others and make a difference.
Campbell, Heidi A., & Garner, Stephen (2016). Theology of Technology 101. In Networked Theology: Negotiating Faith in a Digital Culture (19-37). Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic.
Floridi, Luciano (2010). The Information Revolution. In Information- A Very Short Introduction (3-18). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
ISTE Standards for Coaches. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.iste.org/standards/for-coaches
Jones, Marshall & Bridges, Rebecca (2016). Equity, Access, and the Digital Divide in Learning Technologies: Historical Antecedents, Current Issues, and Future Trends. In The Wiley Handbook of Learning Technology (327-47). John Wiley & Sons Inc.
Prensky, Marc (2013). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. In From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (201-215). Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin. \