I have had two concept maps on my desktop filled with brainstorms and notes from various articles, discussions, and workshops. Most of the notes have to do with educational change and technology. Today’s students need to be able to select, use, and constantly adapt to new technologies. Flexibility in thinking and the use of technology to communicate, collaborate, and create creative solutions are the skills of the 21st century.
One of our goals for technology at BPS is to provide better student access to a variety of technology and applications and for students to be able to use different tools to create solutions to the same problem. Continuing our own learning of new methods and strategies for teaching, learning, and engaging is critical in the fast moving digital world. It is also critical that we do this in a way that is systematic and appropriate in terms of authorization and approval.
A note I have on one of the concept maps states, “Innovation is about ‘next practice’ not ‘best practice.” Best practice is a good thing and needs to be supported and encouraged. Next practices are the things we need to start doing so they can become best practices. Next practice thinking is interactive. In our educational environment this is what happens through supported action research where implementation is observed, discussed, and refined. There are several potential “next practices” for Bismarck Public Schools we need to investigate. Some are currently under study, some are planned, and some are yet to be conceptualized.
- Blended and eventually online courses through Moodle offering transparency, 24 x 7 access, paperless classrooms.
- Student computer alternatives with the goal of quick accessibility, multimedia functionality, and paperless submissions (is there a role for Linux, Pad type devices, cell phones, etc.)
- Digital and media literacy in terms of acquisition, evaluation, synthesize and fair use (reading online vs on paper).
- Move toward internet-based applications (e.g. Google Docs & VoiceThread) offering 24x7 access, portability, and paperless options.
- Policies and processes regarding student personal devices and educational use.
The key to arriving at a good decision regarding the value of the practices is to have a research model and evaluation plan. We are very interested in innovation and are interested in partnering with innovators to investigate “next practices.” It is for this reason that the district has a New Resource/Pilot Request form located on the district homepage under Curriculum and Instruction. Attention to this process is a critical step toward the appropriate authorization regarding purchases.