After having read the documents for this week session on Provincial level views on Educational Technology, something that surprised me was how there seems to be a disconnect between the Provincial Ministry’s pronouncements and what is truly going on in today’s schools and specifically in the classrooms.
In the introduction of the document, the Ministry sets many expectations though they also do not give permission for some of these expectations. When I say permission, I mean money. We cannot be permitted to access technology because we do not have the supports in place for PD nor do our students always have access to technology. They state on the document that “Educators and administrators are fluent in using and applying technology to enrich and enhance student learning and their own learning and professional growth. (This is not true as not all educators are fluent in using and applying technology. Without proper professional development or ed tech coaches this is difficult to ensure.) Educational leaders ensure the integration of technology to support productive systems for learning and administration.”(P.1)
The Ministry states that “the integration an effective use of technology is vital to Saskatchewan’s teaching and learning environment and to enhance learner success.”(P.1) If this is so vital why is there little money available in education to support our students varied learning needs?
Furthermore the Ministry states that “the complexity of information, resource, and facilities management demands the infusion of technology throughout the business environment.” (P.1). There has been the infusion of technology, though there has been many cutbacks in the schools when it comes to technology. For example we do not have enough resources in the school building. We also do not have technology coaches in our school division, it is basically that you are on your own when it comes to technology. Just recently during the startup of the second semester, computers were taken out of the computer carts and given to other schools within the division in order to “share” the technology in the school division. My school has over 1400 students. We currently have 13 computer carts with 12 laptops in each. There are currently 5 computer labs with 175 desktops, though these are used all day for the classes that need them on a daily basis such as labs, library and the transitions room. The ratio in our school is 3.5 students to every computer which in in hindsight is not to bad. Though some of this technology is broken and it does take time for the tech to be repaired.
The principles in the document state that there will be equity, that it will be student centered, there will be accessibility, quality, professional competence, partnerships, accountability and sustainability. There has been little equity, it has not been student centered, and there has been little training or PD provided. Professional competence can only happen with technology coaches, tech teacher leads and new training. The ministry has not been accountable when it comes to the effective use technological resources in education.
The outcomes and strategies that the Ministry stated have fallen to the wayside when it comes to fostering digital fluency (DF) within teaching and learning (TL). Our French Immersion curriculum and other curriculum is being updated or currently waiting to be updated. Once it is updated, I am hoping this will support this initiative. Not all teachers are digitally fluent and do require PD to support this. Not all educators and students understand hows to be safe online. Furthermore, I have seen positives from the technology-supported learning environments (TSL) to support student interest in varied subject areas and varied learning needs with Saskatoon Catholic.
The Role and responsibilities of technology in education section is making divisions in the planning process by dividing tasks between the Ministry, Schools Divisions and advisory groups. Though again there seems to be a disconnect when it comes to how to support educational technology.
I found a disconnect when it came to the STF document and the Ministry document. The STF document does not mention Ed tech and is mainly focused on an important focus of Social justice, Inclusion and Equity. Unfortunately as I mentioned earlier, not all students have access to a technology device and not all school building have equitable access to technology. There also remains systemic barriers that have some negative impacts on education and its learners. Social inclusion is not always happening in the classroom.
I thoroughly enjoyed this document and I am also using this document as part of my Major project to support Digital citizenship and digital fluency. “It states that “both students and educators need to be able to use technology safely and effectively to communicate and collaborate in a global society.” (Preface) It is clear, gives many ideas to support School Divisions, teachers and students. It is a document that was made in collaboration with the ministry and a group of ed teach educators from school divisions and the University of Regina. This made sense to me since educators need to understand what needs to be done to support DC in the schools. “Digital citizenship education is not intended to be a stand-alone unit, course or lesson, rather it is best learned and understood when taught in context through supported online practice and real life examples and experiences.” (Preface)
The policy has been created by my school division by using this policy planning guide. The only problem that I am seeing is that it is not being fully used in the school buildings. This may be due to lack of PD or review of the policy that has been created to support responsible use of technology and guide DC.