After my first full day at NST, I now have a better understanding of why this training takes place over a full-week. Never in my career have I been through a full-scale school change. As the keynote speaker said yesterday, most school reform/staff development initiatives are doomed to fail because of their piecemeal approach. This one strives for going all the way with an all-encompassing model that drives the entire school. I'm completely on board with the instructional model,and understand what my individual role in this school will be, but it is clear now that our task as a campus is pretty enormous.
New Tech Network creates a very good impression. The trainers and IT staff that I have dealt with are very positive and sincere people that believe in their mission. As a participant, I can say I feel overwhelmed, but supported. On the downside, the ECHO system that we will be using is a Drupal based software that has some bugs and is somewhat hard to embrace fully.
Echo is very early in development and the IT staff is aware of many of the bugs, but I am mainly concerned about the difficultly of mastering the course and project creation tools. I feel that teachers need software that is intuitive and this one is difficult for someone like myself that is more on the IT side of things.
For the rest of the week, I will be analyzing ECHO and figuring out a simple approach to making good projects accessible to students so that we can help our Freshmen hit the ground running with project based learning. Look forward to more posts about PBL and the software connection.