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Running Head: SHARED VISION & RATIONALE, VIS, QATAR 1

Shared Vision and Rationale for Technology Integration at Vision International School,

Qatar

Margareta Tripsa

ITEC 7410

Summer 2016

Chester Fuller, Ed. S.

Keywords: vision, technology integration, technology leadership, visionary leadership


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Vision Statement

We live in a fast-paced, increasingly interconnected, digital world and what

happens in the classroom should be in sync with the rigors of the current societal realities

and, at the same time, should also help the students get ready to be productive adults in

the society of tomorrow. Using the ISTE standards for coaches, teachers, and students as

a frame of reference, the stakeholders at Vision International School, Qatar, will use

technology as a means of enhancing teaching and learning, of helping the students reach

their full potential, of providing them with the platform to showcase their learning, of

offering them rich opportunities for engaging in authentic and rigorous learning

experiences, and of building global awareness. These technology-enhanced learning

environments will be supported by administrative policies designed to foster equitable

access to technology resources and support for all students and teachers and designed to

promote the development of information literacy skills, digital citizenship skills, and the

4Cs (critical thinking, collaboration, communication, and creativity). The school-wide,

online, and hybrid professional development will be aligned with research-based

practices, will be varied, differentiated, and job-embedded.

Rationale

Through its current School Improvement Plan (SIP), Vision International School

(VIS) targets four important aspects: shaping students who are problem solvers,

independent learners, able to express themselves through fine arts and athletics, and

ethical and compassionate citizens. It has five components and at this point none of these

components indicate the use of technology to support teaching and learning. The five
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areas are (1) assessment, (2) school and classroom leadership, (3) student engagement,

(4) curriculum, teaching and learning, and (5) home, school, and community partnerships.

To provide the students with new opportunities for self-expression and for expanding

their classroom experience, the first step in switching the gear would be revamping the

school improvement plan by including technology as a key tool for addressing curriculum

demands.

The majority of Vision International Schools student population is comprised of

English Language Learners (ELLs), so the benefits of technology integration can be

significant in supporting their language development, in making content accessible to

them, and in shaping them as global citizens. Technology can help teachers be responsive

to the linguistically and culturally diverse needs of our population of students, it could

help teachers with remediation, intervention, as well as gifted students resources and

services, and it can broaden students opportunities for learning and choice. Technology

helps build cultural understanding and global awareness by giving students the

opportunity to engage with learners of other cultures. Also, while classrooms are

becoming more and more culturally and linguistically diverse, teachers need to narrow

the ever growing gap that arises between native speakers and second language learners by

helping the latter approach rigorous content and increasingly complex tasks in classrooms

with ELLs. Technology can also serve the specific needs of second/foreign language

learners by giving these students the opportunity to have access to supplementary

resources that can scaffold learning or address particular needs such as audio/video

support, dictionary resources, language support, or individualized learning programs that

allow them to take control of the rate of their learning.


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Expecting technology to be the answer is putting the cart before the horse

(Creighton, 2003). What makes technology effective in the classroom is the way it is used

by the teacher. Technology could contribute towards achieving the schools mission and

vision set forth in the SIP only if rigorous systems for implementing the initiatives

articulated in the SIP are in place. The teachers should be provided with training and

support along the way and the technology leaders should use assessment strategies to

measure the impact of the technology initiatives implemented. The teachers need to be

empowered to make effective use of technology by augmenting, modifying, or redefining

learning experiences. Technology should be used as a gateway to increasing students

global awareness and fostering inquiry learning. The pace of change in our lifetimes has

been rapidly increasing and students and teachers have to learn at the pace of change.

The National Institute for Professional Practice (2014) pointed out that schools

must embrace new designs for learning based on emerging research on how people learn

and work in the 21st century. Technology and media literacy are needed in order to help

students successfully function in this new century. Effective use of existing and emerging

digital tools are needed for shaping 21st century learners who are active consumers and

producers of content. These kinds of dynamic learning environments are critical for

building global awareness, for enhancing teaching and learning, and for providing

meaningful instruction, which is in sync with the realities of the 21st century.

To turn my schools shared vision for technology integration into reality, the

school leaders should first create a committee to discuss, design, and implement a

technology plan, should use the TPACK framework and should keep the ISTE standards

in mind when doing this. The school leaders should ensure the teachers are empowered to
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use the ISTE technology standards in their classroom. Professional development that

would raise awareness in regards to the Technological, Pedagogical and Content

Knowledge Framework (TPACK) would help avoid the dangers of departmentalization

that has happened so far when the technology department was actively engaged in

helping teachers use various software, but when there was not enough time to link

technology, pedagogy, and content together or include technology in the SIP.

Technology, content, and pedagogy should not be taken in isolation. The role of

technology in school is to support instruction. Technology needs to be driven by

curriculum standards and sound pedagogical principles. The TPACK framework is very

useful for instructional technology coaches in helping teachers build technology

proficiency and use technology and digital media strategically and capably. Teachers can

also identify where their levels of expertise are and what skills they need to develop in

order to balance these three domains effectively. Content, pedagogy, and technology are

equally important in designing learning environments that are relevant, meaningful,

dynamic, engaging, and in sync with todays society. Researchers concurred that teachers

can become TPACK experts only by balancing and managing all seven components that

emerge from the overlapping areas of pedagogy, content, and technology. Pierson (2001)

cautioned that, unless a teacher views technology use as an integral part of the learning

process, it will remain a peripheral ancillary to his or her teaching (p. 427). Therefore,

teachers need to focus on using technology to enhance students learning experiences and

to create new learning opportunities with technology that wouldnt be possible otherwise.

Diversity Considerations
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Vision International School is an American international separate gender school.

Both sides of the school are generally provided with equitable opportunities for learning.

To encourage the girls participation in STEM disciplines, the school could provide the

girls with the opportunities to enroll in an afterschool robotics club or coding club. So far,

the robotics club was offered to boys only. I will advocate for extending the Robotics

club offer to the girls, as well, and I will encourage both the girls and the boys to

participate in the Hour of Code.

Classrooms around the world are becoming more and more culturally and

linguistically diverse. Vision International School is comprised of about 80% Qatari

students and 25% international students. The Qatari students all come from very affluent

families. While the socio-economic status of the rest of the students is not as high as the

socio-economic status of the Qatari students, they are all, without exception, pretty well-

off. Vision International School is a private international school where tuition is quite

high. However, to make sure that all students have equitable access to resources and

support, teachers should keep an eye especially on the groups of international students

whose parents moved to Qatar to live and work temporarily.

Although a small percentage, VIS has native English speaking students, as well.

The wide majority of the students at VIS are English Language Learners, but the

American curriculum adopted by the school has high expectations for all students. The

increasing curriculum demands place a burden on the students who need to learn content

and language at the same time. Teachers need to narrow the ever-growing gap that arises

between native speakers and second language learners by helping the latter approach

rigorous content and increasingly complex tasks in classrooms with English Language
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Learners. Technology can enhance teaching and learning in many ways and can serve a

great learning or teaching assistant. The learning that takes place within the classrooms

walls could be just a springboard for much more complex and dynamic learning

experiences when technology is involved.

This reality poses various challenges on schools. Researchers noted a significant

gap between native speakers and second language learners in terms of academic

performance. Research has shown that although English Language Learners (ELL)

acquire basic conversational or basic interpersonal communication skills (BICS) in one or

two years, it takes them five to seven years to acquire cognitive academic language

proficiency (CALP) and to catch up with the native English speakers. Academic language

proficiency can be defined as the extent to which an individual has access to and

command of the oral and written academic registers of schooling (Cummins, 2000, p.

67). Because acquiring CALP places much more demands on the second language

learners, Cummins, who coined these two terms, pointed out that educators needed to

create engaging literacy scenarios and give students multiple opportunities to interact

with the content. Besides the extra opportunities and modalities that the ELLs need

benefit from when interacting with the academic content, educators also need to scaffold

their instruction without watering down the curriculum. This might seem an

overwhelming job, but technology can play a pivotal role is helping teachers address the

ELLs needs and differentiate the curriculum accordingly. Pierce (2006) noted that

technology can help teachers provide this scaffolding with handy supports that are

embedded in the content, such as native language assistance and pop-up definitions or
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visual demonstrations of key vocabulary terms (p. 28). Personalized learning can also be

done easier through the use of technology.

Bull and Patterson (2016) maintained that, with technology driving 21st-century

education, the infusion of appropriate pedagogical strategies supported by research-based

theories will enhance digital delivery, promote positive learning outcomes, promote self-

reflection and self- assessment, engage all learners in the process, and provide powerful

learning experiences. (p. 255) In other words, a rigorous interplay of content, pedagogy,

and technology is required for addressing the needs of the net generation. In the digital

age, ELL students can greatly benefit from content delivered digitally.

Stakeholder Roles

Administration

The administration can support technology initiatives by providing adequate

funding for equipment, programs, and training on the use of these tools and by promoting

these initiatives to the school community (Roblyer & Doering, 2013) and the school

owners. Research has shown that when it comes to student academic achievement, the

teachers play an important role. (Block, 2000; Darling-Hammond, 2000; Haycock, Jerald,

& Huang, 2001; Yoon, Duncan, Lee, Scarloss & Shapley, 2007) To help the students stay

current on the research professional development is the key. To address the need for

professional learning schools use various strategies. To help with the implementation of

programs and assist teachers in using practices shared through professional development

schools use coaches because they can be key in providing job-embedded professional

development, small group, and one-on-one training tailored to teachers individual needs.

Requiring funding from the school owners for this position would facilitate the
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implementation of the technology plans and would provide teachers with more coaching

services and one-on-one support opportunities.

Todays rapidly changing environment requires the principal as technology

leader to become involved in discovering, evaluating, installing, and operating new

technologies of all kinds, while keeping teaching and student learning as the guide and

driving force behind it all (Creighton, 2009, p.3). To keep up with the educational

demands of our evolving society, teachers need to be involved in professional

development. Schools adopt various types of delivering professional development: on

campus professional development, online professional development, or hybrid training.

Many researchers argued that online PD has a more positive impact than traditional forms

of PD on teacher training. Online professional development may better address the needs

of the teachers who have busy schedules and may provide teachers with continuous, real-

time, and work-embedded support (Davis, 2009; Dede, Ketelhut, Whitehouse, Breit &

McCloskey, 2009; Van der Sijde, 1989). The online PD represents the anytime,

anywhere option. Nowadays, asynchronous and synchronous learning technologies

provide new opportunities for expanding PD choices beyond the brick and mortar walls

of the traditional classroom. The same thing seems to be true when it comes to student

learning. The U.S. Department of Education (2010) indicated that courses with hybrid or

blended learning tend to produce stronger student learning outcomes that the completely

face-to-face interaction. In this light, Vision International Schools leaders would need to

redesign professional development to make it more effective and address the diverse

needs of the staff (about 15% of the staff is comprised of Arabic teachers whose English

language proficiency is quite limited). The school administrators will be in charge of one
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main task: to create and maintain a collaborative culture that encourages sharing and risk

taking.

Teachers

Learning and teaching with technology is a nonnegotiable in the digital age.

Success, from a socio-economic perspective, emerges learning that happens both in

school and outside of it. Through the use of tools like wikis, blogs, or Web 2.0 tools,

teachers can have students collaborate, create, and innovate synchronously and

asynchronously at an unprecedented scale. Technology-infused learning experiences help

remove time and space barriers allowing students to create dynamic learning

communities.

Project-based learning provides rich opportunities for individual and

collaborative research, electronic publishing, and authentic learning experiences (Roblyer

& Doering, 2013, p. 245). Students need to develop an inquiry mind and need to learn

how to think critically. Students can easily feel lost in front of the endless amount of

information they have access to when using a web browser, but when they are engaged in

project-based learning, the structure required by this kind of task helps them focus and

gives meaning to their learning. To thrive into such an overwhelming world, students

need to have the skills to critically evaluate Internet resources and use them to support

their learning goals. Learning in an exciting sense happens when factual knowledge is

accompanied by the ability to apply it, to synthesize, to make predictions and informed

judgments, and ultimately to create. Creativity is found at the top of the Revised Blooms

Taxonomy, and it is indeed the most complex skill that our students need to possess in

order to be successful citizens of this dynamic world where they are shaping their futures.
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The teacher must also release control, allowing students to explore and to direct

their learning. One example would be to have the students engage in the Genius Hour

Project. Another example may include teachers allowing students to showcase their

learning by creating projects using apps of their choice on their iPads. Besides project-

based learning opportunities, the teachers could also design learning experiences where

they would have their students collaborate globally or regionally with other students on

Global Collaboration Day, or using the Connected Classrooms resources.

To narrow the gap between mainstream students and second language learners,

many teachers take advantage of technology tools to help these students not just learn the

language, but also the academic content. There are different types of technologies

teachers could use to support English Language Learners in their journey to reach

increasingly demanding academic standards. Finkel (2012) posited that, educators say

that flipped learning can greatly increase a teachers ability to provide differentiated

instruction given that students work at their own pace in the classroomand teachers can

provide more challenging work for those who are breezing through. (p. 32) There have

been a couple of teachers who flipped their classroom in the past two years at VIS, and it

would be important for the VISs leaders to continue to encourage the new teachers to

use the flipped classroom approach, which would be beneficial to the second language

learners.

To keep up with the fast-changing and evolving nature of technology, the teachers

need to be on a continuous lookout for research-based practices and technology-infused

learning experiences that motivate, engage, and help the students reach their full

potential. Besides school-wide professional development, the teachers can be encouraged


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to actively participate in Twitter Chats, Edu Chats, or Google+ communities.

Professional Learning Communities offer valuable opportunities for sharing and learning.

Parents

The teachers at VIS will work with the parents to ensure that the children practice

digital citizenship. The teachers should also provide the parents with resources to help

them monitor their children when it comes to technology use at home and to ensure their

childrens safety.

The parents should also be encouraged to stay updated in regards to their

childrens academic life, behavior at school, and learning experiences through tools such

as Plus Portals or Class Dojo.

Students

The learning that takes place in the classroom is just a springboard for much more

complex and dynamic learning experiences. Students get to collaborate and access

learning 24/7. Students understand that learning is both individual and social. Also, Web

2.0 tools empower students by expanding their learning communities from the single

setting of their classroom to the entire world, and therefore, give them the opportunity to

interact with authentic audiences. Digital tools foster interactive learning and, as a result,

students find themselves immersed in dynamic learning environments.

At VIS, the students will work towards becoming self-directed learners. The

students will be encouraged to discover and cultivate their passion through projects such

as Genius Hour, but also during everyday learning experiences. By giving the students

choice, they will learn to find ways for playing an active role in their own learning.
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Teachers place a premium on student motivation and engagement and there seems

to be a consensus in regards to the power of technology to motivate and engage students.

(Stipek, 1988) Because when students are excited and motivated they focus learn better,

they will be allowed to use and they will be taught how to use technology devices for

academic purposes.

Todays society requires students to show mastery of various skills. The 4Cs

(communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity) seem to be in high

demand, more than ever, as emphasized by the International Society for Technology in

Education (ISTE). At VIS, the students will be encouraged to make global connections

and will be provided with help along the way. Working collaboratively students support

individual learning and also contribute to the learning of others. They can create original

works and showcase their learning through virtual publishing. By employing technology

tools students can communicate information and ideas to multiple audiences around the

globe using a variety of media and formats.

The students will practice digital citizenship and will use the Internet in a safe and

responsible manner to support their learning. To be effective in the 21st century, people

must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills related to

information, media and technology. Technology can play a pivotal role in academic

environments because if offers a vast area of opportunities to differentiate instruction, to

meet students needs and to challenge all students: ELLs, special needs students, gifted

and talented students, or mainstream students.


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References

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PA: Information Science Reference.

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Press.

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Finkel, E. (2012). Flipping the Script in K12. District Administration, 48(10), 28-34

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Appendix

1. Do you think the teachers at your school know how to use technology effectively?

a) No.

b) Yes, a few.

c) Yes, some.

d) Yes, many.

e) Yes, all.

f) I dont know.

2. How important are the 21st century skills for the teachers at your school?

a) Not important at all.

b) Somewhat important

c) Very important.

d) I dont know.

3. Did the school leaders make the schools vision in regards to technology integration

known to the teachers?

a) No.

b) Yes.

4. I feel confident in my ability to integrate multiple technologies into my instruction

a) strongly disagree

b) disagree

c) agree

d) strongly agree
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5. What kind of support do you find most useful?

a) school-wide professional development,

b) online PD,

c) hybrid PD

d) coaching, one-on-one support

6. What are the top two things needed to effectively leverage technology for

learning?

7. What is the number one factor that might prevent you from frequently designing

technology-based lessons?

a) The amount of time needed to prepare them

b) The support available at the school level

c) Lack of training

d) Lack of technology

8. The response time to my technical needs is:

a) Outstanding

b) Satisfactory

c) Lagging

d) Frustrating

9. I would be interested in getting help with using technology to

a) deliver content

b) differentiate instruction

c) collect and analyze data (for formative/summative assessment)

d) have students collaborate


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e) have students showcase their learning

10. What would you like to see in terms of technology support next year?
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Survey Responses
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