Converge magazine focuses on technology integration in schools, with articles about resources, approaches, and examples of successful integration programs. Publisher Marina Leight talked with Education World about the role of the magazine in technology integration. Included: Tips on integrating technology in schools and on overcoming obstacles to integration.
Converge magazine is an award-winning national print publication designed to foster and inspire leadership for the integration of technology in education. Converge's parent company, e.Republic, Inc., has specialized in public sector technology topics for nearly 20 years through its publications, conferences, and research.
Marina Leight, the publisher of Converge magazine, is a former teacher who also has worked as the executive director of executive forums for Government Technology, another division of e.Republic. In that position, she developed and managed relationships with public sector executives across the country.
Education World: What are the goals of Converge magazine?
Marina Leight: Converge was launched to share solutions for the successful deployment of technology in education. We know that technology and technology skills are critical to the future. The magazine acts as vehicle to tell the technology story in an inspirational way. We also designed the magazine to help connect to its readers by always including contact information for the people written about in the stories. Additionally, Converge is actively engaged in regional conferences on technology; we are involved in more than 40 events a year. Converge's sister is The Center for Digital Education, a Web site that is aggregating qualitative data about what is going on in educational technology around the country. In those ways, we are building a dynamic and interactive Converge community.
EW: What are the current critical issues concerning technology and education?
Leight: I think these are very exciting times for technology in education. In business terms, this is still an emerging market, which means there is a lot of confusion. With the enormous amount of hardware deployed in the last decade, the critical issues surrounding technology revolve around its actual use and the results that use produces. To be very specific here, I'd say that professional development and relevant assessment metrics are critical points that school leaders, teachers, and administrators must take into consideration.
EW: What do you think is the biggest obstacle to integrating technology into school curriculums?
Leight: The only obstacle to integrating technology into curriculum is leadership and a leader's intention to do so. The only way anything gets done is when someone intends that it get done -- or decides to get it done. All across the country, we see examples of leadership making technology a priority and getting stellar results. We see those kinds of stories in classrooms and all the way up the line to statewide deployments of technology projects.
EW: How do you see the No Child Left Behind Act affecting technology use in schools?
Leight: In my opinion, the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) raises some important questions for schools. [NCLB] provides funding for technology projects of all types; however, it requires improved student achievement, and so directors of technology and instructional technology will have to answer the question "Why?" over and over. Why invest in this? Why do it this way? Why is this the best solution?
The way the money is allocated also requires states, counties, and districts to communicate more with one another and I think this is positive. As I mentioned earlier, there are microcosms of education technology successes everywhere and, with improved communication among the projects, the opportunity to replicate results at a faster rate will improve greatly. Since NCLB requires the reporting of results, our country's administrative reporting systems also will get an overhaul. I have said for a long time that once we start talking about administrative technology and instructional technology in the same room, we'll make a real difference in a student's experience and in his or her achievement.
EW: What is the most frequent complaint you hear from teachers and administrators about their school's or district's technology plans?
Leight: First, I should say that a teacher and an administrator would have a different set of complaints, but if I had to find one common comment, it would be that technology plans often don't look at the long-term or comprehensive picture. An effective plan would be one that takes into consideration professional development and assessment techniques as well as sustainability and scalability [the ability to change, expand, or improve an infrastructure.] With the speed at which technology changes, these are difficult to plan for.
This e-interview is part of the Education World weekly Wire Side Chat series. Click here to see other articles in the series.
Article by Ellen R. Delisio
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