What are your responsibilities as a co-chair of the Georgia Department of Education's Instructional Technology Advisory Committee?
The responsibilities of being a co-chair of the Georgia Department of Education's Instructional Technology Advisory Committee have varied over the eight months since I was asked to take on this role. Besides facilitating monthly online meetings via Blackboard Illuminate, I have assisted in the opening of the Center for Classroom Innovation in Atlanta, collaborated with DOE members regarding the new Common Core Standards about how technology will be used to assist in their implementation, and networked with district instructional technology directors, and other IT and media services coordinators, such as my co-chair, Jeff Lariscy of the Effingham County School District. I believe my main responsibility as a co-chair is to bring the needs, wishes, thoughts and ideas of the students and teachers of the state to the attention of those who are in the positions to affect real, meaningful and practical policies and procedures for the use of technology within the state.
If money weren't an issue, which single piece of technology would you put in every classroom?
Many people are under the misconception that certain devices like the iPad or Smart Boards make a school more technological. However, without properly training the teachers, and providing readily available assistance, those devices become equivalent to a piece of fitness equipment that ends up a clothes rack. If money weren't an issue, I would make certain every teacher was familiar with technology devices, concepts and practices as well. Also, I would hire an instructional technology specialist for every school, just as most schools have media specialists. This would foster a technology-rich environment within the schools.
Even though technology has educational potential, some people assert it's also making kids less social. Where do you stand in the debate?
Technology has always appealed to me because of its great potential for the acquisition of knowledge. However, I have also long recognized the potential hazards of technology. This dichotomy was the reason I went back to college to obtain my Master's in instructional technology. If something has the possibility to harm my children, or myself, I want to know all I can about it so I can be more cognizant of what is occurring. For example, I do believe some aspects of technology are making kids less social. While they are often actively involved in "social" networks, they are spending less and less time socializing on a one-to-one basis. This is often exacerbated by the mobility of devices. Too often, people can be seen sitting together at a table while all of them are interacting with a game or a phone, while not actually talking to one another. Furthermore, I find customers going through lines often use mobile devices that are not only distracting to others but often rude to the clerk. One should try to remain aware of how devices can affect other's abilities and perceptions.
As an educator, how do you handle disparities in students' access to technology at home?
Disparities in students' access to technology at home can be diminished several ways. Schools can open computer labs for student use before and after school. Day cares and libraries often have computers for youth to use. Most of the public housing offices are equipped with computer labs for residents' use. Schools should make it a point to notify parents of these various means of utilizing what is in their community.
What's the best-kept secret in the Chattahoochee Valley?
As an animal lover, I am always looking out for their best interest. PAWS Humane is one organization that feels the same way. They give animals that would likely be euthanized elsewhere an opportunity to find a home and thrive. Not only can someone find a loving pet at PAWS, but they can also get affordable and sometimes FREE vet care. PAWS has a Pet Therapy Team that spends hours volunteering their time in hospitals, hospices, schools, and anywhere the love of an animal and the need of people meet. PAWS Humane is truly a jewel in our community. My dog, Chowder, is a PAWS rescue, and he and I have become a Pet Partner Pet Therapy team whose focus is on Wounded Warriors and their families.