About collivan97

I am a tech-savvy student, that is involved with anything technology and leadership. I began my journey when I was in 8th grade and I joined a youth leadership group called Voices For Change. With V4C, I lead a group of students to learn about the dangers behind distracted driving - using technology in the car. We visited Maryland's Shock Trauma Center to learn about their established program: Don't Drive Distracted. Howard County Library was gracious enough to allow a 3D presentation by V4C at one of their local branches. Upon arriving at High School, I was informed that all the teachers were given new Macintosh computers - which they were not used to. I offered after-school lessons for those teachers who were interested on improving their technology skills. Following that time, I became webmaster for my school's SGA, The Howard County Association of Student Councils, and V4C. This past year has been insane. In October, I was a panelist for Howard County Library's Choose Civility event, OMG to AARP: Bridging the Multi-Generational Divide. It was about how technology is changing our civil, or lack there of, habits. Following that, HCPSS launched a Bring Your Own Device Program, which was followed by the creation of a task force to improve the program. I was then asked to be a student member on that task force. In V4C, we have an intense area of focus on harassment and bullying. I have been a strong advocate for Sprigeo, which is a reporting app for those who have been bullied. Over the course of the year working with the Sprigeo team, I was offered a position as a youth member on the Howard County Local's Children Board. I love technology - and everything I do somehow has a core root in it! I love playing piano, and listening to my favorite band Fleetwood Mac!!!

BYOD Frustrations

It’s been a while since I’ve been on here and now that school is back in session I’ve got a few things back on my mind!

My school district has now entered the “BYOD” bandwagon (bring your own device). Every school is now a member of this program. While I fully support this program, the program needs to be taken with much caution.

One of my biggest irritants is the fact regarding our “mobile labs.” Next year, my school district will be out of our contract with the computers that we have had for the past 5 years. Since every high school is now BYOD, the school system feels an appropriate course of action might be to get rid of mobile labs (which are carts with 30 notebook computers which get taken to each classroom by period). This is a serious concern of mine.

Currently in my research class, I will be studying how many students want to bring in a “capable learning device.” To me, a smartphone is not a capable learning device…and sometimes a tablet isn’t either. Either a really high-end tablet, like an iPad with a keyboard, or a Surface, would be a capable learning device since it would have the capability to type notes, conduct research, create presentations, etc. (and of course a laptop is a very capable learning device).

What worries me is the fact that my school district will become dependent on students bringing in these capable devices – but our students aren’t dumb. They are concerned for their device’s safety (who wouldn’t be). “What if it gets lost? What if it gets damaged? What if it gets stolen?” When the school system has a clause in their technology contracts saying that they are not in any way liable to answer those questions – of course students are going to be deterred from bringing in their device.

So you have the problem that the school system doesn’t want to waste money (completely understandable), but they are depending on students to bring in capable learning devices…which the students don’t want to do. So what’s the solution? Cut out mobile labs and make the computer to student ratio 1:35?

Let’s make something clear, in 2014 the computer to student ratio should be around 1:3 or 1:2….if we lived in a perfect world it would be 1:1. Let’s encourage the students who want to bring in their device to do so by creating a welcoming environment for technology by designing lesson plans that incorporate technology, and by revising policies that if something did happen to a student’s device on campus, the school system would not be liable, but perhaps the school system could provide some kind of loner device in the interim. (I’m sure Central Office folks would love that idea)

We need to use the money for computers as best as we can. I still think that means having one mobile lab to rent out for classrooms…but I also believe that it means that the school system should have some kind of loner program…where perhaps students could pay to use a school-system computer for a reasonable amount per year…? The $500 price tag for even a tablet is pretty steep for some families…but maybe a $30 fee for an entire year is more manageable…and then at the end of the year the computer gets returned to the school system.

That’s what I want to happen. A more equitable chance for every person to have access to a computer. But then again…what do I know…I’m just a high school senior!


How this got started…

Like I have mentioned, I am currently a junior in High School, and I have been interested in technology since I was able to walk. I didn’t realize I had such a passion for technology until my elementary school teacher taught me how to code using a turtle game. It was really informal learning how to code. I found some “cheat sheets” that would help me design a maze, and then using code, it would tell the turtle how to maneuver through the maze. Unfortunately, that is as good as my coding ever got. Maybe one day it will improve.

What I found more interesting was how computers were being used. At that time, iLife had just been launched on a huge scale – and I was introduced to iMovie for the first time. That was it. I did not think that life could get much better than iMovie ’05. Instead of participating in school plays, I offered to my teachers I would film the plays instead. They agreed. Throughout my last years in elementary school, I was making movies for different teachers. Along the way I helped them with their computers, too.

This love to help people enhance their technology skills began at a young age, and it continued throughout middle school. I was given wonderful opportunities by another teacher to truly continue to enhance my technology skills. During middle school, green screen became a new feature in iMovie – and I used it all the time. I became interested in my school television news team, and I ended up becoming the Executive Producer for it!

Occasionally during elementary and middle school, teachers would call me to help them out with their technology. I am an Apple fan, and it is what I have known my entire life. When I got to high school, every teacher was given a new Mac that they had never used before. I offered after school training sessions for teachers to help them with their new Macs. Being such an Apple fan, I know a lot about how Apple computers have been incorporated into the education field – because that is one of the many reasons why they were built! I met my media specialist, and I gave her some of my plans of how to teach a class to teachers.

The design was simple – teaching 180. Students are teachers, and teachers are students. This is not a new concept. I actually read about it online from students doing it somewhere else in the nation, and I thought why not give it a try. I had a group of about 10 teachers that came all the time. I thought it was great – and I still think it is great that those ten teachers came almost all the time. Nevertheless, there is a staff of over 200 people at my school…so really not that great. In fact, a lot of the teachers at my school didn’t want to be taught by a freshmen! I had a lot of fun teaching those classes, but i decided not to pursue it my sophomore year. Instead, I picked up various technology projects, and helped teachers on a one-by-one scenario. I actually prefer this method because it’s more personable – something I think we are losing with technology, but that is a discussion for another day! Now this year, my school implemented a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) pilot program, which I have also been a part of every step of the way (almost). We have had after-school training sessions to discuss best practices, and it has been great!

To sum it up – I have no idea how I ended up here. It has been an amazing journey, and I plan to continue with it through my college career, and my real career!

If I had to give one piece of advice to schools wanting teachers to implement edtech, I would advise them to find the primary interest first. Let’s say there is a core group of 10 staff members interested in edtech. That’s great! Have those 10 staff members become experts. The best way to use technology is to collaborate with someone else when you’re using it; there is no better way than telling another staff member about an exciting edtech program you just found. Just think, if those 10 people shared it with 10 more people, and 10 more, and so on, you could have your whole school implementing edtech programs! Of course, that’s not realistic. Perhaps more staff members would become more aware that programs like the ones you share do in fact exist, and they can change the culture of their classroom too.

A real article!

I am still in disbelief that I just wrote an article for a credible educational source! Well, if I can write for it, I’m not certain about it’s credibility anymore! I am glad to have written this article because it is exactly what I want educators to know about implementing edtech – keep it simple. It shouldn’t feel like a burden, it shouldn’t feel like a hassle: it should feel natural. I hope I convey that message well enough that teachers will believe me!

I think it is time to start implementing technology into the classroom in ways that were once unimaginable. We are just getting started, but some teachers are afraid to get the ball rolling. I challenge teachers who are afraid to just try it. Worst comes to worst, that edtech program doesn’t work, and the teacher moves on. But if it’s something that is easy to use, and the teacher and the students fall in love with it, the benefits are unbelievable. However, the teacher afraid of trying to implement edtech won’t understand the kind of benefits that can be achieved.


Here’s the article.

Technology is Changing How Students Learn

Technology is Changing How Students Learn

It’s so true! Many people fail to realize that technology is shaping the minds of students in ways that were unimaginable. We are continuing to follow a model that was developed centuries ago, and it doesn’t foster inquiring minds for the 21st century. However, many educators have the wrong perception about how technology is changing learning. I think it is incredibly important for teachers to know that entertainment is not how you teach to the 21st century learner. Garnering the attention of people, in general, may be difficult now – but it isn’t difficult if students are actively engaged in their learning.

This was a fascinating article that got me thinking!