Sunday, March 22, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Technology in the Classroom

Last night of Ed 404, lots of input, reflections on the past quarter and time to apply some of this to what's happening in the field. Especially useful was discussion of problem statements and methodologies. It was the perfect continuation of Monday night's presentations with plenty of food for thought and feedback. The next couple of weeks will provide an opportunity to synthesize my research notes and identify what's being learned by the students and the teacher with iPods in the classroom.

The elements for creating a framework to view the iPod Research Project through is still developing. I have considered a mini-ethnography, a methodological study for the best way to determine (or possible measure) learning, a study on the engagement of students when using the device, comparative case studies and a view through the lens of student perceptions. Possibly some mixed-method from the above. This is all in my head. I need to now get observations sorted out in print, determine what is valid information, develop a working lit review and think seriously about Chapter one. First of all is the story behind what I'm doing and why it's important that I'm doing it.

Meanwhile, Human Subjects Approvals for two universities, possible educational presentations, more visits to the school being studied and a scramble to get some firm idea of what has been learned and what is being planned. Presently, only online searches are implemented for specific reports and the devices are stored the remainder of the day. A constructivist, open-ended learning environment is new territory for staff and there is apprehension about going that far. Presently, teacher-centered learning is the modality.

There is no doubt however that there is an electricity in the air when the students get their hands on the iPods. The room instantly drops a few decibel units and the students become instantly engaged in something unexplainable, maybe unfamiliar. The students are having fun learning and can't wait to do something new with the devices. The conversations are collaborative, small groups are jumping ahead of the lessons with newly discovered shortcuts, some students are a bit behind. Still, those that are learning proudly share their new found knowledge with those needing help and bilingual students quickly translate to ELL students what they need to know.

So here, in the teacher centered room, is teamwork and collaboration that is self-perpetuating.
Constructivist activities are sprouting where they weren't intended, and students are learning valuable skills faster than they can be taught from the overhead. There is something going on here that needs to be harnessed, or more likely, let go.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

OD Plan for CCSAA

I have changed the acronym, worked on a video, completed my other class assignment and am down to two projects to go. I feel that I need to use this video in order to capture my audience that I am consulting but not to do the job of providing exact details. I am definitely using both organizational development and organizational knowledge material for both projects. My present classes overlap too well not to. I will follow the URLs posted for Ed 401 for my intervention plan and taylor it to suit the needs of the Central Coast Substance Abuse Agency.
video

Monday, March 2, 2009

CCSAC

The Central Coast Substance Abuse Center (CCSAC) is an educational facility in every sense of the word. Many of the clients (students) that enter the programs available by the agency are enrolled on a voluntary basis. Many are court ordered. Either way, the lessons learned inside the classrooms and offices of the agency literally become a matter of life and death for many. The purpose of my observations and presentation will be to answer the question of whether the CCSAC is in need of organizational development and what specific conflicts are causing the problems. I will need to identify the volume of the problem and outline a specific task with a specific time line as an intervention. I would make to make it so. As an educational leader/adviser, it is my responsibility to have an accurate sense of what the emotional pulse is of the members of this agency and be capable of communicating reachable goals through the process of group discussions and careful observation. This process needs step-by-step instructions for the agency to follow.

The agency is unique in that from a client standpoint, finding solutions to problems is approached through assessment, counseling, education and process groups. The process of healing from the ravages of substance abuse require a very proactive stance by the staff and client yet it is very important to remain sensitive to individual needs and feelings. The process of alternating between individual sessions and group sessions does create a reasonable balance of activities with 85% of the clients reporting back that their experience was a positive one. The staff on the other hand has no such schedule for their education and growth. They are limited to monthly departmental meetings of one hour and quarterly workshop sessions that utilize a one-size fits all approach to training. The workshop sessions often do not meet the needs of specific departments in the agency and are widely accepted as a "day off to goof around".

The irony is that what the agency prescribes for its clients is more effective in many ways than what it prescribes for its staff. The clients will hopefully learn important information that they can use in their day-to-day lives. The staff tends to be on their own, receiving their educations from formal schooling, accumulating college credits and applying their education to better their job advancement potential. This may not be what is best for on-the-job needs for development. This scenario also is reflective of what I witness in different school districts for all ages and subjects. As staff, once you are there, the majority of educational opportunities exist only for the clients or students. Professional development and any meaningful group-think process is very limited, especially with the budget crisis that is present.

An equally serious problem within the CCSAC is that communications are limited to a need-to-know basis with the decision of need resting in the hands of supervisory personnel. There is little transparency in how the operation is run and the one-way, top-down model of management is the standard operating procedure. There is conversation, but seldom does there appear to be change. The change that is incorporated into the agency primarily occurs on an individual basis, within a subculture that has developed to continue operations and allow for growth and learning despite obstacles present in management. This of course only benefits those privy to the underground network of players that make it possible. This network also plays a part in the eventual shift of consciousness that occasionally reaches the upper echelon of management.

The current state of organizational learning must be tied to the informal subculture of learning that exists within the agency. There is learning, it is shared but it is not shared equally, the client may or may not benefit from the learning and the agency often only accepts lessons learned long after they have already been informally initiated. The prognosis at this point is that there is an absolute need for a systematic and deliberate effort for management to streamline the process by which its staff gives and receives input for operational matters and personal staff needs. There is a distinct lag in the time that a problem arises and is addressed.