This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
An Interview by: Karen Edoff Date: September 11, 2008 Class: ID Trend with Brent Wilson Introduction:
I have never met John Canuel before this interview. I first emailed him on Tuesday September 9, 2008. He quickly responded with a set date and time for us to meet. We met at his office Thursday September 11, 2008. From the very beginning, he made me feel welcome. The more we spoke the more I became convinced I couldn¶t have found a better candidate for my interview assignment. He was very insightful with not only the current trends in education but also futuristic ideas. After the interview, I left feeling motivated to become the teacher of the future. I had many new ideas for my computer classroom and was very excited to try them with my students.
Would you tell me about your job description? What is it that you do? Actually this is a new position. We just created this position this past July (08) Previously, this position as the director of educational technology, I was responsible for how students were using technology, how are our teachers using it, how are ensuring the technology skill are infusing with the 21st century. So that is how the position worked in the past 5 years. Our work was part of DLEA we were a subset of curriculum instruction. This past year we have revised the job. We are a separate dept out side DLEA and we now have a separate department called educational technology services. As an executive director I work in conjunction with the other executive directors in the division of instruction. How long have you been with Jefferson County? 30 years! How long have you been in the Ed Center in the IT dept.? Remember, I am not in the IT Department. We work under the Division of Instruction. Our department is Educational Technology Services. IT is Information Technology and is on the Business/Operations side of the district. I have been working centrally for probably 18 years now I was in Computer Science and Professional Development (2 long gone departments), then went back to the classroom and then returned Could you tell me what are some of your credentials that qualified you for this position? I have been a classroom teacher for 10 15 years as an elementary teacher/intermediate grades. We believe that is a required piece for this job because you have to come from a strong educational background, for this type of position. This is not a technical position. It is very much an educational position. And in terms of credentials required for this work: y I must hold a principal¶s license. It is a licensed administrative position. We hold ourselves to the same standards that all principals have. y Must have a master¶s degree. y As we will say later, stay current. For example, I received my master¶s from CU and it was the very first masters program in technology«it is absolutely useless today. Partly because we worked on Apple II. It was very much about learning local programming, Pascal and some different pieces. It was so different than it is today. y We do want this position to have a good view of instructional programming and content in curriculum. y Professional development is huge. y A lot of it is demonstrating expertise in management. y And change the vision of where technology goes. I am typically the one that gets help accountable. Where are we going and how are we getting there? 2
How is Jeffco different from other districts (when it comes to IT)? All districts operate differently but here are some ways Jeffco looks different than the ³norm´ y Ed Tech work a component of instruction, not Technology. Many districts are moving this direction but we made the change over 10 years ago when it was seen as radical. y Educational Technology services sits parallel to departments such as Curriculum/instruction, Special Ed, Assessment, etc. In many cases it is a subset. This is usually not a norm in large districts. y Educational Technology oversees the use of all technology across the Division of Instruction including tools like Student Information, IEP¶s APL¶s Assessment, Libraries, Professional Development, etc. y Jeffco blended the work or technology and libraries over 10 years ago. This is now a requirement under the state ET-IL (Educational Technology ± Information Literacy) plan. Are they going to begin testing standards in technology? They were tested this year. All districts in the state of Colorado are required to report that data. The law states that all students will be technological by 8th grade. The problem with that is the federal government will not define technological literate. They leave it up to the state of Colorado and the state of Colorado say we will not define it. We¶ll leave it up to the districts to figure it out. So it has been pretty topsy turvy in that area. So there was no assessment but we are required to report how many students are technological literate by 8th grade. Now we as many districts in the state take assessment pretty literally. We just do an assessment in 8th grade. All 8th graders were assessed last spring. Where do you get the standards? We built our assessment off the ISTE, International Society for Technology in Education standards. We adopt the ISTE standards as our district standards and we are using the new ones. We know there are a lot of states still working off of the old one. I am sure Brent has shared with you the new ISTE standards. That really gives it a glimpse of some of the other issues. We were only able to write standards at this time. We have benchmarks just like CAP written for every grade level k-12 for those technology standards. They are only aligned right now with 3 of the standards; computer operations, information literacy, and ethical and safety of technology. The other 3 are pretty difficult. That is what we are taking on this year«problem solving, critical thinking and online safety.
Do you have a team where you brainstorm ideas and bounce new methods around? It is kind of 2 way team here. We are pretty lean. I have one educational technology specialist. We are the smallest educational technology department in the state. And it¶s hard for her to do that. I know somebody sent out an email the other day. It stated: They were upset because they have a staff to teacher ratio of 80:1. They felt that was so unacceptable. They wanted to know what other schools were. I replied in an email that we (at Jeffco) have 5000:1 ±
teacher to staff ratio. We have one person, 2 people to over see libraries and one person who is part of the I2A project but that is temporary work. Also the online education department has just been added (to our department) Even though we are a very small team, that is where we do the majority of our brainstorming. As I work with executive directors my job is not to brain storm technology but to brain storm what are we doing about instruction and where are we going instructionally. And then my job is to plug in how can we use technology? I do not rely on Pricilla Strom (the IT division) in terms of the technology pieces. One of the attributes of the job is to stand away from technology. We never try to just solve a technology problem. Really the technology problems are solved by IT. They solve our technology problems but what we try to solve here are teaching and learning issues. Like, how can technology be an effective tool (for learning)? But at the same time assuring what you and I learned, as students, is a totally different skill set with kids these days. And so my job is to campaign 21st century learning and to make sure that our kids are digitally literate as they leave us in addition to being mathematically and scientifically and you know, reading literate.
I also interface with a lot of people from across the state. I serve on the board of directors of directors from across the state. And I am the facilitator of a monthly group that comes together once a month from across the state and we meet and talk about technology. So that is where I get a lot of my problem solving and brain storming is with the other directors in the state. How do you determine the fun technology from the ones that are absolutely necessary? Software in terms of content: We never really get to the idea that technology is neither fun nor essential because technology will keep changing. When you look at it from a software standpoint in terms of that, and we really shift it from software to online content. So more and more of our resources are coming to us as subscription services that we have as opposed to software. We really tried to look at if it is a content base solution. If it is science software then we ask our science team at DLEA to look at this and provide how it solves a problem. There is a lot of software that doesn¶t solve a single problem. But of course if you buy it, it¶ll fix everything=) For example lots of software out there right now that¶ll fix students technological. Just buy the software have the kids go through the program and take this test. What we are finding is that they are aligned to the old standards. Software as tools: So we really try to focus ourselves down to from a software standpoint, in tools. Tools can be software application based and they can also be devices. From an application standpoint we try to narrow it down to a very small function in what we can support and can move ahead. So we have a very small tool package in this district of Office, Inspiration, Tech 4
4Learning and then either a movie maker, I-movie type of solution. It¶s a very small package of productivity tools. That is also what we support. By themselves they do nothing but together they become essential tool sets. Using tools correctly: We¶ll be starting work in this department next month around web 2.0 tool structures. So when we talk about blogs, wikis and pod casting we need to be pretty clear. We have a lot of teachers doing blogs. I am not convinced kids need to do blogs. I think they have to be taught how to be effective communicators in a blogging environment. But the emphasis is around communication not how to blog. How to blog is you start typing. We have teachers trying to do the technology as opposed to understanding there is a real skill to communicating in a blog. I don¶t know if you have ever read a blog where people go on forever and no one reads them. Other people write like two words and no one reads them. There is this essential how you get your point across. If you are doing pod casting, how do you tell your story in two minutes and not go on forever. So we try to focus on those. We understand there is a lot of different software that is out there that meets lots of different needs. So we know we will always be reacting to different tools to meet those needs.
Basic tool sets: The other level of tools that we are trying to focus in on right now is just having some basic, basic physical tool sets in all classrooms. That is where smart boards come in. We do believe and I am a firm believer that interactive boards can be a very powerful devise in a classroom. Digital projection-huge! Digital devise around audio enhancement-huge! If all kids could hear and if all kids could just see and if we could all use the screen as an interactive device to manipulate as oppose something we just watch. If we had technology devises that allow us to access and utilize tools and information. I use the word devise other than a word like laptops and computers because I worry what tool will this be in the future. Right now they are laptops; but what will they be in the future? We are starting some studies with idea with the low cost units now. The triple E, HP just came out with a very small computer, Dell just came out with a small. It¶s a two to three hundred dollar computer that is really a web appliance. It is really not designed to be a full blown computer. How can those fit in? I think smartboards are a great example. I worry at times that people blame the smartboard. As anything else I really don¶t believe technology will improve student achievement, it will not improve student learning. I am very clear about that. It is a tool, it is a devise. I think smartboards are innovative uses of technology uses in classrooms and certainly the most abuses. What I see is a lot of teachers abusing smartboards. I watched a teacher one time use a smartboard and she wrote in black on the screen and then she would erase it and then write some more and then erase it. At least use some color. If you are writing something save it before you erase it. I have also seen classrooms where teachers have turned the smartboard into a learning center and they have been using online manipulatives. How are we teaching different devises? How do up actually marking up? How do you tie in a document camera to a smartboard or even a video? Stop the video; mark it up. Do a John Madden type of piece. Suddenly you have some real power of how you can tap into a display but now make it very interactive. 5
Elementary schools are doing some incredible work with smartboards by bringing the software out with all the manipulatives. Now students are using the board. I have seen a First grade classrooms where that is the learning center. The kids are up there. They have to solve these ten problems but they have all these digital manipulatives. It¶s what we, as teachers, do with the tool. But a smartboard just using it as something to write on is a huge waste of money. Software as a purpose: It comes down to again purpose, connection to curriculum and training. So yes, I worry, a lot. There are a lot of people who are incredibly anti smartboards. Smartboards seem to be the big polarizing technology right now. You are either on board or not. I am a huge advocate of it because I have seen what they can do; only if teachers are highly skilled. What I have seen is the ability to take a stagnant, watching something and turn it into an interactive environment that teachers and kids can actually work with and manipulate. Does Jefferson County have a course for us (teachers) to learn the new technology like smartboards in the classroom? I find them fascinating and would love to learn more about them but honestly, who has the time? We have online courses for teachers to learn how to use smartboards. We are working together with smart to bring some of their training and resources out. So we offer as much training as possible with the resources we have. But teachers have to tap into it. The other thing we have available to you this year, its coming out to your school, like right now, is we are putting money into articulation areas; $1.75 per student. As an option school you are aligned with your geographic. Whatever your principal aligns you with. I am guessing Wheatridge? Yes. Ok! So the Wheatridge area has, and they count your kids also, $1.75 per student that is sitting right now for professional involvement. So what are the essential needs that you, as an articulation area, want to take on? So do you want to take classes, could you just learn from each other? This allows you to be released for a day to work with another teacher. What we are hearing is that teachers just need time. There are a ton of was to learn about things, they just need time. They need to interface with each other. Teacher A has a skill, how do they do it with teacher B? We are also in the process of building a resource bank, in Blackboard, that you will be able to search on either the Ed tech standard or curriculum. By having standardization around smartboard, the cool thing about smartboard is when you can already have the files all qued up. There is an activity and all the manipulatives are there the maps are there. So wouldn¶t it be nice if you could just download that file, open it up on the smartboard and everything with lesson plans for that activity would be there. That¶s what we have to start providing to teachers; is not figure it out on your own. We have teachers who have spent time and have learned things. But we cannot do it as a department here, we are too small. We are going to tap into the expertise out there. I think that is what we have to have. I have seen abuse of smartboards; I have seen districts spend millions and million on manipulatives. It depends on your purpose. If your purpose is to give every kid a computer, I think you are going to fail. But is your purpose to ensure 6
that every child has access to the information and the tools when they need it, different issue. And what is the training? If every kid in your classroom had a computer, that changes your job dramatically. Do you have the skill set and is our curriculum robust enough? That is why we are doing so many online courses at the secondary level. You teach 7th and 8th grade? Yes So what if we have, for example, online resources, modules that you could just integrate into your classroom. Kids could go into virtual dissection and learning. How would that change things if you had all the tools? It would force you to think so different. I would like itRight, but it¶s a catch 22. It¶s the devices. If the devices are not in place than the teacher¶s learning does not go anywhere. But if the devices are there but not the infrastructure; the network, the bandwidth the support, there is no learning. So that is what we try to put in place. Look at this; we are really coming back down to purpose. What is our purpose and what tools and resources do we need to meet the purpose. There is a lot of real cool software out there. So many times you hear people say,´saw this, got to have it.´ WHY?? What purpose does it serve? How does it align to our standards and our requirements? We have too many people focused on the technology.
The software, Tech4Learning; we were told we have to buy this software for every computer. How does software get pick to be ´the oneµ implemented in every school? We are trying to ensure all computers have a tool set in place. We go through formal identification process. We needed a graphic editing tool set. Office which is a very nice program, spreadsheet can be very powerful, presentation tools can be powerful, publisher, which is part of the package, can be nice a nice tool set that is in place. But what we needed was something that addresses the whole graphic component. Something that was both video, motion and still graphics. A lot of teacher/schools were trying to go out and buy Adobe Photoshop. Photoshop is a nice program but it is very expensive, very complicated. 90% of kids do not need that much power. What we ran across at this point was just Image-Blender, a nice editor; simple to use. It works for elementary as well as secondary. It is just a nice program. I still use it as my day to day editor. If I need to touch up some pictures or some cropping or rotating or adjusting some things, it¶s just a very simple tool. Also out of this came Twist, the vector based drawing. What we found was a simple affordable package that really believed, that 98% of kids; it meets their needs for graphic editing. Do we still support Photoshop for editing? Absolutely, but what we are finding is that most kids do not need that much and we cannot afford it. After that they came out with Photoshop Elements. We did look at that but we have a nice investment with this program and we are going to continue with that. I would rather our teachers be very skilled in simple tools than having more powerful tools that we are very limited on.
Now once you have a program picked, how do you go about to promote, to change? How do you get it across every school that they need this? What do you do for those who just resist? Jeffco is a district of choice, so that becomes a challenge. What we don¶t have in Jeffco is a technology specialist in all schools. So Jeffco, many people would love to say its not, but we are very, very lean. We put our resources directly into classrooms into traditional science teachers and math teachers. So one thing we don¶t have, that many districts have, is a job that is just technology. I am not sure I agree with that anyway. I think that is an old model; that technology was something that somebody did. We believe that everybody is responsible for technology. We rely on our librarians; now that can be a good or bad thing. Librarians have gone through a metamorphosis; we changed the role of libraries. Of not just being that library down the hall; the librarians are expected to be the leaders of information literacy of technology literacy and then supporters of literacy acquisition. That is their job now. So they are the key. They are also the in-house site based staff developer for technology. Again with limited resources here, we could never train 5000 teachers. We know that. So what we do is we try to work with 150 librarians. We offer courses, in addition to the ones taken. We expect those librarians, by working with you; can show you how to use those tools and resources. You are going to learn a tool as you use it not just going to a class. What has been taking off in the past is online courses. We have an online course that is around nonlinguistic graphic organizers, it uses inspiration. This is probably our most popular course. People sign up and it is filled with in an hour worth of time once we offer it. It really starts teaching teachers online how to use graphic organizers in a nonlinguistic manner; its one of the biggest factors of students¶ success. How do they use not just word organizers but nonlinguistic graphic organizer? I worry about our ability to have that because we then interface with IT and we interface with the other departments of instruction. So our goal is to ensure that, as we develop curriculum, we have the resources. Lets use Inspiration as a template, lets give people an excel spreadsheet that is already set up for the curriculum that supports a science activity that you do not have to create. It is already in place; already there to collect data on some experiment. So how do we use our tools to support? That becomes the big piece. In the I2A program we made sure that tool set was a part of those computers that was handed out. We don¶t want those computers to be just about acuity testing. Julie¶s job is to work with those schools to show them how to use the tools. The process is very slow. We would love for it to go faster but we also know there are so many things on teachers¶ plates. We never want to say that this is the only thing that teachers need to know. It is probably our greatest challenge; we know where we want to go and it is so hard to get there. Trying to get 5000 people caught up has got to be hard. Trying to get 5000 people to go in any one direction is amazing. What we find in our schools is if we have a librarian who gets it, a principal who gets it and at least one teacher; if those 3 things exist in a school, they tend to be high users of technology; the whole school is; if we see two of those people, 8
probably. If it¶s only one or none, we usually don¶t see it move. That tends to be a real common thing in this district. So it¶s really the role of the principal, the role of our teacher librarian, who is our leader in technology. That is our goal, is to get those people. If we can have that environment from every school we would be very happy.
The classes that are offered for teachers, are they on blackboard? Most classes are offered through blackboard. We also, some of our technology courses, we contract our partner with PBS teacher online. So they are offered through our online department but when you go to register you will be directed to PBS teacher online. They use Blackboard too but not our Blackboard. Teachers get a huge discount when they sign up for a course. You don¶t pay the full rate when. I think we end up paying only $100 out of a $400 course. They have great courses.
Is blackboard something that will stay around for a while or are you just testing different communication tools? As far as I know! I think blackboard has become ingrained on what we think. We now have a super attendant that understands we have to be a digital organization. We cannot be physical anymore. It¶s really how are we preparing kids for the future. We started last year, last years kindergartener will be the graduating class of 2020. So we really started the theme how are we preparing the graduating class of 2020; what world will they step into? Then we step back, what about the graduating class of 2015? What about the graduating class of 2010? What do we do to prepare kids to step into a world that is dramatically different? Then we also step into what are we doing about the staff? I won¶t be here in 2020 but what am I doing today to ensure that the new leaders have the skills to operate in a very digital environment. We have people who are starting to understand technology is not this thing that we teach; it¶s not something that somebody does. It has to be the way we operate. What is the hot technology item this year? In terms as a thing or an issue? How about trend? What is the hot trend this year? A trend that I am seeing happening is not about technology anymore it¶s about information. It¶s not a new trend for us but we have been seeing it become more and more of an issue. As we watch these elections we are seeing this information that is readily available to us is being shared digitally like never before. How much of it is true? How much of it is not true? What we are seeing is the massive amount of information available to students and they are going to have to have those critical thinking problems solving, high-end analysis skills to really apply to make sense of the massive amount so of information and then apply they skills and knowledge for quality decisions. It all comes back down to information. What kind of information do we produce? Do we consider? And how do we use that information in the rest of our lives. That is the big trend we are seeing and that we will be dealing with in this district for the next several years.
How do you see technology being used in our future? Whether its 5 years, 10 years or 20 years from now? I think it is going to become more invisible. I think it will become less of a something but will become the way we do things. I think we will be manipulating information like never before. We will have tools to collect data. Tools to present data we will be able to collaborate against time and space in ways that we have never done before. I believe that secondary schools are extremely at risk. I don¶t believe they will exist the way they exist today. Secondary schools will have to become very digital and very highbred and utilizing online learning as well as the role of face to face or I think they will get run over by the digital learning. I think it one of the great challenges I worry about. Not so much elementary, I don¶t see as much change going on for them. There are a lot of conversations going on in the state for what is the future of education. Some people say high schools will be high school. But we are also seeing a huge explosion, happening at higher Ed, of online learning. So what is the role of the teacher? I still believe teacher will have incredible roles with online learning but it¶s a different role. I think we will see a lot more online learning. I think we will see tools that allow kids to differentiate. I think we are going to see very responsive and smart tools and resources that will be able to react to kids. That can be very exciting or very intimidating. The people that don¶t see it as exciting are going to be in trouble five years from now. We need to embrace the change and find new ways of meeting kids needs or we are going be run over!
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.