My context in relation to Bates, A.W. & Poole, G. (2003). Chapter 4: a Framework for Selecting and Using Technology. In Effective Teaching with Technology in Higher Education: Foundations for Success. (pp. 77-105). San Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers
The SECTIONS framework by Bates and Poole was more applicable to my teaching context. The two sections that I find myself grappling with most often is students and cost.
Students, and teachers, need to be at the forefront when making decisions about learning technologies. But like Bates and Poole state, and I experience, you are dealing with insufficient and rapidly changing information from which you must base your decisions on. Eighteen months ago, I would argue, I was dealing not with a digital divide but a digital chasm in our large rural school district. While students and teachers that lived in town had access to high speed internet, a good number of our rural schools had only dial up with no prospect on the horizon of change. When student information systems were put in place to allow teachers to work from home and parents to access student work, this did nothing for these rural communities. Access to quality distance learning material was also hampered by the lack of high speed internet. Eighteen months later it is a totally different picture as many of these communities now have satellite internet. Polling students recently, up to 95% have home base computers with a high speed connection. This completely changes the learning technologies landscape and what can be offered in these communities.
The needs of different student demographics is also an area that I find myself struggling with. What is required in a large urban high school is very different that the needs of a small rural farming community that has seen a recent influx of immigrants. Likewise the changing teaching demographic, as the baby boomer bubble is hitting retirement and a large number of new teachers will hit the education system, has very diverse needs. What I find myself struggling with is how to adapt to these diverse demographics when we have standardized parts of our learning technology systems. Keeping the learners needs in mind, how can I bend Moodle or Sharepoint or PowerSchool, all standard systems we must all use, to meet their needs.
The part about cost that resonated with me in this framework was that the major cost of any learning technology is time. Time to work, reflect, train, collaborate and connect with colleagues and time for professional development to ensure the successful implementation of a learning technology. This expenditure item can often be forgotten after money is spent on infrastructure, software and IT, but without this (hopefully job embedded) time the success of a project is at stake. Part of my job is to provide professional development and support for our technology plan. This plan, most recently includes, a project to research the educational implication of cloud computing using LIVE@EDU. The majority of the proposal cost is time.
In education we are always looking to more with less. The advent of free web 2.0 tools has opened up learning technology opportunities for many schools that cannot afford high prices software and installs. I find myself frequently encouraging their use, sometime instead of the technologies that our school division pays for. However, I find myself having to consider the cost of these free tools. They are not free. Many still require installs of Java or Silverlight. They frequently disappear and have to be replaced and therefore retrained on. Or go from being a free service to a paid service. Our school division relies heavily on Moodle, open source software, it is free as we did not have to pay for the download but it is far from free when considering maintenance, training, backups and storage. Cost is one aspect of choosing technology that I would like to look at more in-depth.