Systems of Support Supporting Educator Excellence through Technology and Strategy

Author Archives: Jason Carroll

Jason has trained thousands on Assistive Technology and Universal Design for Learning concepts throughout the United States and beyond. His focus is on integrating research based practices into the work he does and helping others ensure that what they are doing works. He specializes in assisting people to bridge the gap between operation of technology and actual implementation. Jason is a published author, has taught Instructional Technology and Universal Design for Learning at the University level, and spends a significant amount of time on e-Learning and blended learning initiatives. He is a graduate of the Assistive Technology Applications Certificate Program (ATACP) from California State University at Northridge and holds a Masters in Business Administration.

Currently Jason serves as Product Marketing Manager for North America at Texthelp Inc. where he oversees new product launches and speaks nationally on a variety of Assistive Technology topics.

Are you priming students for success?

Last week Jason G wrote a post on starting the year out right by setting effective classroom rules. I would argue that this is one of the most important things you can do at the start of a school year (or semester).  In addition to setting appropriate rules, there are other things you can do anytime of the year that can help “prime” your students for success (even if they don’t realize it). I’ve highlighted a few studies below that will hopefully help explain what I mean.

Highway sign directing towards success or failure

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Tips for Turning Classroom Content Digital

In last week’s post I talked about the importance of using digital text in the classroom. However, making the transition from traditional content to digital is not always an easy process. While there are many digital resources available, you still have to find them. And if nothing suitable is found, you may have to resort to converting/scanning your traditional materials into a digital format. The purpose of this post is to provide a few ideas for finding and creating digital content of your own.

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The Importance of Using Digital Materials in the Classroom

Over the last few years digital content such as educational websites, electronic textbooks, and online journals have become more available to classrooms than ever before. Unfortunately increased availability does not always equal increased use. Despite the number of iPads, Chromebooks, and other devices in schools today the amount of print based material remains roughly the same. Reasons for this vary, but understanding the importance of having digital materials available can go a long way in helping classrooms make the transition.

Digital Materials flying out of computer

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Using the 5 Whys to Help Identify Solutions

In last week’s post I talked about the importance of developing a process for determining technology needs. This helps to ensure schools purchase what is needed vs. what is hot at the moment. However, sometimes it is not feasible (or necessary) to do a full technology needs assessment to determine what is really needed. In this post I will be explaining a super simple technique to help you quickly get to the bottom of an issue, which makes finding the appropriate solution much easier. It is called the 5 Whys.

The 5 whys

 

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Creating a Process for Determining Technology Needs

I’ve had my eye on a new iPad mini for the last couple of months. I really like the size, and the clarity seems so much better than the iPad 2 I have now. The only thing stopping me from running out to the Apple Store and picking one up today is that I know I don’t really need it (and it’s pretty expensive).

iPad Mini

www.apple.com

I often see schools struggling with similar issues. Many times there is money left over at the end of the year, or a certain percentage of funds set aside for technology, so schools will hit the buy button on technology they’ve been wanting.

Don’t get me wrong, having more iPads or other devices available for students (and teachers) to use is great, but when purchasing these devices it is also important to consider what comes along with them. For example, in the case of iPads, there is purchasing and installing apps, maintaining, buying accessories, training students, training teachers, and so on. All of this for a device that may not have truly been needed in the first place.

To help prevent this from happening I often talk to school leaders about the importance of doing a needs assessment before moving forward with purchasing technology. If you read last week’s post where I discussed the Haddon Matrix, this would be part of the “Pre-Event” when working towards successful implementation.

While a needs assessment may be created by a combination of administrators and technology leaders, it is important to make sure that the teachers who are expected to implement the technology on a daily basis actually take it. You can find a number of resources online to help create this assessment by doing a simple Google search. For example, I found one report based off of a needs assessment conducted by the Nevada Department of Education (scroll to the end to see the questions asked in the assessment) that did a good job of determining what technology educators currently had access to and how comfortable they felt with it.

While that is a great start for finding some questions to consider using in your assessment, I think beginning with a few higher level questions is even more beneficial. For example, start by asking what current initiatives are going on in the school or department, or what area(s) students need to improve in the most. The answers to these questions should lead into more specific questions about what technology can help to fulfill those needs.

Once the answers start to come in, be sure to have a team ready to collect and make sense of the responses. This information can then be summarized and used as a checklist when the times comes to purchase new technology. This process will need to be scaled up or down depending on the situation. For example, purchasing technology to be used by all teachers across the district will require more planning and input from end users than purchasing something for an individual classroom.

The purpose of this post is simply to get schools thinking about their current process for deciding what technology is needed. Many of you may find that there is no process. If this occurs, hopefully this post will give you some ideas on where to start. For those who already have a process in place, please share any links to resources, guides, assessments, etc… that you may have already created in the comments section below so that others can benefit!

Enhance Technology Implementation with the Haddon Matrix

A few weeks ago Jason Gibson wrote a post that covered many of the barriers educators experience when trying to effectively integrate technology.  It just so happens that he and I are getting ready to tackle these barriers in an implementation session we’re delivering at a conference next week. While we will be covering a wide range of things to consider, I thought this post would be a great place to start the conversation of how effective implementation can occur.

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Collecting Classroom Data – Great Example!

Last week Jason G shared some methods on how to collect your own classroom data to learn if a particular strategy is working. In this post I will be taking things a step further by sharing an example from a classroom I worked with that did just that.

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Using Google Scholar to Locate Research Based Practices

In the first post of the new year this blog discussed the importance of ensuring that technology and strategies used in classrooms are based on research.  While research doesn’t always keep up with the latest technology, it is still necessary to know what works and modify it as needed to fit your setting.

So where do you find research? While several options exist, including professional development opportunities or academic libraries you may have access to, one of the most exhaustive resources available is Google Scholar.  In this post I will share what Google Scholar is and some tips to help with its navigation.

Google Scholar Homepage

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5 Web Based Graphic Organizers

In last week’s post I discussed the importance of graphic organizer strategies and provided one specific strategy called “List – Group – Label” that I’ve used often in a variety of content areas.  The purpose of this post is to take a closer look at a few graphic organizer tools that can be used with those strategies.

Screenshot of Graphic Organizer

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Graphic Organizer Strategies

Over the last couple of weeks Jason G has done an excellent job of explaining the lens we look through when providing assistance to others.  In his first post of the new year he discussed the three components that almost every post we share will revolve around: Technology, Strategy and Research.

Today’s post is going to focus on the strategy piece that accompanies Graphic Organizers.  If you aren’t familiar with Graphic Organizers, they are basically a way to demonstrate knowledge, or communicate information in a visual way.

Graphic Organizer Screenshot

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