With one of America’s fastest-growing student populations, Nevada has worked aggressively to help its teachers take advantage of educational technology. At the center of this process has been Lee Solonche, director of distance learning at KLVX Communications Group, a facility of the Clark County school district.
What is the mission of KLVX?
Our primary mission is to serve teachers and students. We are here to help.
It’s important to keep in mind that educational technology is much more than just having a computer in the classroom. We are striving to create an environment which offers teachers lots of ways to use all kinds of video and digital resources as elements of effective lessons.
We offer a large, diverse collection of media resources that correlate to established curriculum, and we offer it via multiple delivery systems. In this way, different sites and learners receive materials in ways that best meet their needs.
Your district has hired a huge number of new teachers in the last few years. How do you approach the job of helping them to use technology effectively?
Too frequently, technology is thrust at teachers, without proper preparation, training and support. One analogy used is that of a piano. Teachers feel that technology is like a piano dropped in their classroom. With minimal training and a short time frame, they are expected to perform a concerto. This produces false expectations and frustration.
The value of technology lies in how a software program or a video or a CD-ROM can be used to improve or enhance instruction. Technology training and support are critical.
We have recently completed a large statewide teacher technology training initiative—Project ENTICE (Education in Nevada: Technology Infusion for Curriculum Enhancement).
The goal was to provide all educators in Nevada with increased exposure to educational technologies, and to help them better integrate technology into their curriculum.
Working together with the Clark County School District and other districts throughout the state, we videotaped over 126 teachers and students modeling best practices. Crews traveled hundreds of miles and went to remote locations to capture a comprehensive set of classroom examples.
Along with videotape, other technologies were integrated into the project, including satellite, interactive sessions, CD-ROM and online support. This is the type of effort that we feel is called for to give teachers the kind of support they need to play that piano well.
What advice would you give teachers specifically with respect to their use of the Internet as a technology resource?
One of the greatest strengths of the Internet is access to information. And one of the greatest weaknesses is access to information—that is, an overabundance of sources that may or may not be accurate.
I think you have to be careful if you are having students spend a lot of time on the net. Are students receiving proper guidance? Is the instructional staffing sufficient to assist students? Student use of educational software in unintended ways, without proper instructional support, is a concern that may require some rethinking of educational applications.
The bottom line has to be, is the use of the technology going to improve the educational experience? Will it help the student to learn in new and different ways?
It’s critically important that we keep technology subservient to educational objectives. History shows that technology continually changes, but the human need to learn, to explore and to socialize is constant.