Summary of NCTET Event on Using Technology in the Classroom


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EVENT BRIEF

NCTET DISCUSSES TECHNOLOGY IN THE CLASSROOM

Prepared by:
Stephanie Lovell (slovell@wpllc.net)

November 11, 2010

On Wednesday, the National Coalition for Technology in Education and Training (NCTET) held an event on, “21st Educators: Using Technology to Improve Student Achievement,” to highlight the use of technology in schools and to raise awareness that America needs an influx of long-term, dedicated teachers. Hillary Goldman, NCTET Board Member and Director of Government Affairs at the International Society for Technology in Education, welcomed the panel and explained that this is a timely conversation as Secretary of Education Arne Duncan released the U.S. Department of Education's plan for transforming American education through technology on Tuesday.

SPEAKERS
• Kristen Orndoff, 5th Grade Teacher, T.S. Colley Elementary Magnet School, Lake Charles, LA
• Eric Sheninger, Principal, New Milford High School, New Millford, NJ
• Tom Carroll, President, National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future

Kristen Orndoff
Kristen Orndoff began her presentation by detailing her approach to teaching. She values teaching to standards rather than to tests and believes that knowledge gained and ability to synthesize information should be the focus of assessment instead of demonstrating retention of facts. Orndoff’s school has received an Enhancing Education through Technology grant for the past few years which gives Orndoff the opportunity to provide technological devices and products, such as computers and camcorders, to her students. She spoke about the need to “inspire students,” and the instrumental role technology plays in doing so. Orndoff underscored the importance of connecting class work to the “real world,” and stated that it is important that students are not expected to abandon their native technology prior to entering school. Technology “opens doors” and allows for students to become producers who will be better prepared to join the workforce after graduation. She argued that technology should begin to be utilized by the youngest Americans and offered that Head Start programs would be an excellent place to start.

Eric Sheninger
Eric Sheninger spoke about the frustration of understanding that technology is key to the success of 21st century educators and learners but also experiencing a lack of funding to provide access to new technology. He stated that his goal as a principal is to “change the learning culture of the entire school,” so that everyone embraces technology and uses it to the fullest potential. In his school, Sheninger focuses on introducing free technology, such as Facebook, Twitter, GoogleDocs and Poll Everywhere, to teachers. He works hard to provide funds to motivated teachers who best utilize technology in the classroom in order to encourage the educators to be 21st century teachers. He echoed Orndoff in saying that technology inspires students and creates a connection to the real world. Sheninger also meets with students once a month to find out what ideas they would like see implemented within the school. He advocated for educators who need support from administration, modeling of new technology uses and flexibility to implement new ideas in their classrooms in order to promote 21st century learning.

Tom Carroll
The final panelist, Tom Carroll, declared “We are in a learning age, where all jobs require continuous learning, and students and educators are learning from and teaching each other.” He emphasized that it is necessary to transition from viewing schools as places of teaching to places of learning. He also agreed that the education system should emulate the real world that students will encounter after graduation. Carroll raised the concern that 1.8 million American teachers are approaching retirement, and there are not enough teachers to replace them. He indicated individuals who have joined the teacher workforce since 2001 are likely to remain in the profession for three years or less, which has led to a dramatic decrease in the number of teachers in the field. He urged that longevity is necessary to promote an “open learning ecology” that will lead students to become successful adults in college and beyond.

For more information, visit http://www.nctet.org/.

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