Representative Angie Chen Button’s HCR 104 is being heard in the Senate Education Committee today. Senator Seliger is the Senate sponsor for this non-binding resolution. HCR 104 encourages school districts to adopt policies that promote the use of technology and technological devices in Texas classrooms. Representative Button has reached out to TCEA to support the use of technology in Texas schools. We collaborated with the representative to prepare the resolution. HCR 104 is intended to send a message to school districts that the legislature is supportive of the use of technology in Texas classrooms and that districts should continue to work toward the digital conversion of teaching and learning. HCR 104 passed the House on May 8th.
TCEA has testified in support of this resolution. Below are the written comments submitted to the House Technology Committee urging them to support the resolution.
The Texas Computer Education Association (TCEA) is pleased to support HCR 104. We believe that although technology has been in schools for many years, only now is there a convergence of factors that is creating a “tipping point” of the digital conversion of education.
Today’s students are finding the one-size-fits-all education model to be woefully inadequate for providing them with a student-centered, customized learning model that addresses the diversity of their backgrounds, interests, and learning goals. Students’ now desire to map their own learning journey by directing their path and choosing the mode of educational exploration that best fits their own personal style and interest.[i] Outside of the classroom, students are utilizing technologies that enable them to create personalized learning environments that directly fuel their individual learning passions in a modality that is highly customized to their learning needs.[ii] Today’s students have digitally converted their personal lives outside of the classroom with the adoption and adaption of technology to communicate, collaborate, and connect with peers and experts.[iii] However, many schools do not provide a learning environment that matches what these students have created outside the school. There is a growing disconnect between how students learn and collaborate outside of school with how they learn and collaborate within the school. Students are consequently finding that their school experiences are not relevant and do not meet their needs.
This has not gone unnoticed by Texas educators, business leaders, and legislators. Steps have been taken in recent legislative sessions to begin to digitize the learning environment by providing more flexibility with funding that had been set aside for textbooks and technology. The legislature has also provided telecommunication discounts to assist Texas districts’ pursuit of robust broadband connectivity. The Texas Virtual School has given more opportunities for Texas students to take some of their classes online. Many school districts are using these opportunities to increase the access to mobile devices in their classrooms and provide students with opportunities to engage with rich-media content.
For the past nine years, Project Tomorrow has conducted the Speak Up survey documenting the growth in teachers, students, parents, and administrator’s use of technology both inside and outside of the classroom. This national survey gives districts, educators, and parents a trend analysis of a birds’ eye view of the changing environment for digital learning. The most recent survey was conducted in the fall of 2012.
The Project Tomorrow researchers believe that the confluence of multiple factors are creating a “perfect storm” that is driving new excitement and enthusiasm for leveraging technology to transform teaching and learning.
The following are transformative factors that Project Tomorrow believes is driving a momentum toward a digital conversion of the teaching and learning process. [iv]
- Today’s teachers, administrators and parents are increasingly mobile-using, texting, tweeting social media devotees whose personal and professional lives are dependent upon Internet connectivity and online collaborative learning environments. In fact, a majority of teachers (52 percent), parents (57 percent) and district administrators (52 percent) are now regularly updating a social networking site, and many are using a personal mobile device such as a smartphone to do that. This is creating an unprecedented “readiness” on the part of educators to adopt and adapt new technologies within learning.
- A continuation of the multi-year stagnation in funding for new education technology investments is now forcing school and district leaders to scrap many of the plans that have been on hold waiting for a resumption of funding. Their new approach is to test innovative ways to leverage technology to increase revenue or decrease costs even though some of these approaches challenge conventional wisdom and long-held policy positions. For example, with 74 percent of technology leaders acknowledging that their ed tech budgets are less today than in the 2008/09 school year, it is not surprising that administrators are re-thinking their hard stance against student owned mobile devices in class. In just one-year from 2011 to 2012, districts piloting a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) approach increased by 47 percent.
- Digital tools and resources have transcended the classroom and are emerging strongly as key components of 21st century school-to-home communications. Today’s administrators are increasingly looking to engage parents as co-teachers in the learning process, and thus, the linkages between home and school are more essential than ever before. How the new “digital parent” wants to receive school communications is challenging many traditional assumptions. Over one-third of parents (37 percent) now say that they would like their child’s teacher or school to communicate with them via text messaging; only 5 percent held that same view just two years ago.
- The clamor of the corporate employers for better skilled employees with work ready, global skills is at a fever pitch – and this is propelling many economically-minded school boards and mayors to put renewed pressures on school leaders for better student outcomes. 49 percent of administrators see leveraging technology through online learning, digital textbooks, and/or mobile devices, as a key driver for student success.
The Texas Speak Up survey data closely mirrors these national trends. These four factors are true of Texas schools and districts. HCR 104 acknowledges that technology is changing the way we work and conduct our lives and that schools need to make the necessary changes to complete the digital conversion of teaching and learning in their classrooms. It is an imperative to the economic growth of the future of Texas students and the state as a whole.
[i] Innovate to Educate: System [Re]Design for Personalized Learning, page 6
[ii] Speak Up 2011: Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey, Page 3
[iii] SpeakUp 2012: From Chalkboard to Tablets: The Digital Conversion of the K-12 Classroom, Page 1
[iv] SpeakUp 2012: From Chalkboard to Tablets: The Digital Conversion of the K-12 Classroom, Page 3-4