Saturday, May 11, 2013

More than Plugging In

It’s no secret that schools across the globe today make great use of many technological advancements that today’s society has to offer in order to enrich the lives of their students.  Technology has become a huge part of American’s everyday lives, so introducing kids to these tools at a young age is crucial.  But, there is so much more to it than plugging tech equipment into the classrooms across the country.  As my article “Technology planning in schools: An integrated research-based model” by Ruben Vanderline and Johan van Braak, published in the British Journal of Educational Technology explains, a technology plan is needed prior to obtaining technology in schools.  Within the technology plan, the article emphasizes that there is a major distinction between “technology planning”(a verb), and a “technology plan” (a noun).  Schools need to come up with a plan before they introduce technology to the classrooms to explain the school’s expectations and goals of integrating technology into education.  It describes the overall philosophy of technology use, explores how technology will improve teaching and learning.  Really, this is a pretty simple process; but the use of the official style complicates the idea to make it seem far more sophisticated and complex than it really is.    
            Making note that the article is from an educational technology journal, I assumed that this article was meant for individuals who are involved in education and integrating technology into schools.  Reading on, within the second paragraph, the writers stated exactly whom the article was written for,

“This overall model is intended for teachers and school leaders when developing their school technology plan, for researchers when investigating technology planning and for policy makers and educational developers when designing initiatives to support schools in the technology planning process.”    

Being that this article was written for teachers and those other educational leaders,  I predicted that there might be some use of technical language or concepts catered towards this group that me, not being involved in education, might not understand.  The first time I read through the article, I admit that I was very confused by the whole concept of technology planning.  Reading through a couple more times, I realized that there was only one small part in the article that spoke to educators’ background knowledge of the school system,

“ Educational technology vision development concerns the establishment of a school-based vision on technology integration and linking this vision to the schools’ vision of education. The financial technology policy concerns the management of the schools’ technology budget.  The third domain, technology policy regarding the infrastructure, concerns the practical organization of the educational technology infrastructure, ie, hardware and software issues.”    
            The phrases underlined are the only things educators reading this article would really have background knowledge on that anyone else not working in education wouldn’t know.  Besides those few small concepts, this article is really not that complicated.  This article is definitely written in the official style in order to seem professional, establish credibility/expertise, and build legitimate knowledge.  It’s very informative, has a model of a system of technology planning in school, and goes through different dimensions, explaining the steps taken.  Each step has it’s own details and instructions to follow in order to ensure a “smooth ride”.  But really, when you break the article down, it only has two main ideas that with the use of the official style have managed to be re-worded throughout the entire three and a half paged article. 
Much like a characteristic of the official style, the first sentence of this article takes awhile to get going, or doesn’t really get to the point effectively right away,

“In the quest for conditions that support the integration of educational technology into classrooms, recent attention has been paid by researches, policy makers and practitioners to the importance of technology planning.  Technology planning or information and communication technology (ICT) policy planning is commonly referred to as the process of developing, revising and implementing a school technology plan that guides teachers and the school organization in the integration of technology for teaching and learning.”  

            What?  This main concept is re-mentioned with different wording several times throughout the article.  But, it isn’t until the third paragraph that the use of plain language is used to really make sense of what technology planning truly is,

“In the TPS model, a major distinction is made between “technology planning” (a verb) and “technology plan” (a noun).  The latter refers to the official document made by schools.  It is the outcome or product of several underlying processes that are at stake in schools – referred to as “technology planning” – resulting in a technology plan.”

            Plain and simple, to the point; these three sentences basically sum up the whole article.  The point of the whole article is confusing too.  At first it seems as though the main reason for the article is to explain to educators what technology planning is.  But then it seems to somewhat delve into how to create a technology plan, but vaguely enough that this article would not be sufficient enough instruction to do so.  Their motives for writing this article is a mystery until the end, in which it’s stated,

“By visualizing all aspects that have been identified in research studies on technology planning, we hope to stimulate schools in their continuing efforts on technology plan in general, and their technology integration activities in particular.” 

            So the point seems to be promoting technology planning by explaining some of the steps it takes.  The use of the official style makes this article seem as though they’ve actually given steps, but really it’s a repetition of defining technology planning.  This is done in large part by the use of prepositional phrases, making the article shapeless.  It offers no chance to emphasize or harmonize, so it’s literally unspeakable.  Some examples of prepositional phrases include, “As such, technology planning as a source of school feedback can foster schools’ goals of improvement and quality assurance.”,  “Moreover, this dimension further refers to the use of the model by in-service trainers or school counselors.”, “In a technology plan, a school describes its expectations, goals, contents and actions concerning the integration of technology in education.”,  “In this colloquium, an integrated research-based model on technology planning in schools (TPS) is described.”, and “To put it differently, writing a technology plan is a process of going through different steps.” 
The entire article seems to reword and rephrase the definition of technology planning over and over again.  Overall, there is a large use of the official style in order to make this somewhat simple idea of technology planning seem far more complex.  The use of prepositional phrases, complex sentences, and arbitrary bureaucracy language make the article seem as though it is sophisticated and it’s doing something more than just defining technology planning, when really it’s just doing that.  So why, if all it’s doing is defining technology planning, is it in a Journal of Educational Technology, the 44th volume at that?  Wouldn’t people reading this journal already know something about technology planning?  Also, why does the article claim to give processes in which to form a technology plan when it doesn’t do so?  Are they knowingly trying to confuse the reader into believing that they now know how and are prepared to create a technology plan for their schools after reading this?  Is the use of official style in this article used to take advantage of the reader?  And finally, wouldn’t some teachers and those involved in education be able to notice that this article goes in a circle and doesn’t really explain how to form a technology plan?  

By Katie TerBeest

No comments:

Post a Comment