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How Can We Focus Our Institutional Energies?



Right now at our school there is a scramble going on. Teachers are feeling pressure to get the technology in their classes and start using it. More than excitement and readiness to use cool, new tools i think there is a bit of appeasement going on. The head-of-school has asked teachers to present proposals to the dean of academics about their ideas. As far as i’m aware there have been two proposals that were sent to me for editing for viability and technology apropos. There are a few more projects that are not necessarily vying for the board of trustees money but still looking to push ahead with good ideas.

There seems to be forward movement but our institutional energies are not focused and we are wasting a lot of time scrambling instead of finding some real solutions.

How are we going to focus our energies to make some great progress towards a culture of technological integration? We need to come up with some great Pilot Programs; examples within each department selected by either subject matter or teacher, who want to work with the educational technology specialist to find projects and teaching techniques to introduce technology to.

Right now Kate Moore is working on a Pilot Project for the Charles Dickins unit in English I. Kate is working on an interactive narrative that explores the world that Dickins describes, a victorian england simultaneously wrought by an extreme socio-economic dichotomy. She will be using narrative to engage kids in (engaging, processing, lateral thought,) activities that reward research and lateral thought.

Another rewarding pilot program is the use of ning a platform that allows you to create your own social media website. Steve Henrikson, the history department head and one of THE most respected teachers on campus, came to me and wanted to see if he could incorporate social media into his class. Steve believes that allowing people to beg, borrow and steal ideas the conversation and thought in class will be much richer.

The third Pilot program we are doing is moving three teachers off of conferences and onto our new Branson web-portal, Branson Community Groups. BCG is a way for classes, groups, teams and any other school related group to share information, to participate in discussions, disseminate assignments and manage your group affiliations.

I’m very excited about these projects because they will be examples for other teachers to discover novel and visionary ways to communicate with our students. At Branson our technology initiative is not and should not be about putting more things in the class; more computers, more devices, more websites. I honestly believe that our technology initiative is about discovering new techniques in the classroom, new projects to bridge different types of learning so our teachers can feel comfortable pushing forward with what they think is most important for their teaching style.

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