Digital Uproar in Guam

With the recent upcoming election partaking next month, lawmakers are advocating the importance of education in Guam. Guam is a small island which is a territory of the United States. Its location is crucial for the United States of America for military purpose and national protection. Guam’s economy thrives on tourism which also funds island’s government expenses such as education. Guam is known for its beautiful beaches, tropical weather, and hospitality which attracts our tourists mainly in the Asian Realm.

Just like all other places, Guam does experience some shortfalls in funding which causes some challenges with the shift in education. Guam has been practicing a 21st century learning approach by adapting through new best practices and strategies with the implementation of technology advances which is needed to adequately appropriately implement this learning approach with technology resources such as gadgets and softwares. But funding shortfalls shouldn’t confine students to a limited 21st learning approach especially considering the legal implementation of the new curriculum.

Guam Department of Education’s current curriculum is Common Core which also includes technological use along with ISTE standards as well. Each school district has technological tools available for teachers and students although it is limited due to limited funding and overcrowding of schools. This has caused an uproar between teachers and policy makers with the required mandate. Some challenges school districts experience are limited technology gadgets and internet access along with softwares and applications. However, school districts such as mine comprise by creating schedules so students and teachers are able to utilize technology resources equally such as computer lab schedules and two technology carts that roam throughout the school that sufficient for a class size. Also, what is beneficial is that our school librarian provides additional support during students allocated library time. Instructional support is provided such as Moby Max which is a popular item in schools (“MobyMax”, 2016).

This uproar is an awakening for policy makers and school districts considering the implementation. Technology integration and implementation is beneficial for all students as an instructional support especially for our students with differentiated instruction. Technology provides our students with various learning opportunities with the various literacies along with the application and practice of critical/problem thinking skills. Online resources such as Brain Nook, Clever Island, and Zoowhiz are specially designed to accommodate learners (Kapuler, 2013). This is beneficial to help narrow the achievement gap.

However, with the constraint of resources that require costs or gadgets we shouldn’t confine and penalize our students but rather seek other outlets for our students to be able to still experience the use of technology. There are various free online educational websites that are readily available for our learners to learn from a digital aspect that teachers can utilize during a whole group instruction with the use of an Elmo and projector to help combat this challenge. This allows all students to visually and physically participate with lesson at hand. For example, teachers can create a storyboard or presentation to engage students learning. Students can actively engage through presentations with teacher guidance especially for our early learners.

Not only is this beneficial for our students but for parents as well. Parental involvement is important to student learning. Technology has paved various communication approaches that allows parents to monitor their child(ren) ongoing progress. Emails, text messaging, class forum boards such as Edmodo and Remind101 is a great tool that teachers and parents can communicate on timely basis which is free.

However, we still have a divide amongst teachers who are experienced and inexperienced with technology. Implementation of technology varies amongst teachers depending on lesson and teacher’s style. Teachers with limited to no experience will resist with implementation within their classroom. But as an educational institution we must provide support to these teachers as well through ongoing trainings.  Professional Development Days that focuses on technology will impact student learning (Smaldino, Lowther, Russell, & Mims, 2015). All teachers must keen of current trends to appropriately digitally guide our learners.

Most importantly technology integration shouldn’t be used as filler during instructional considering it will be challenging to make it a meaningful learning experience and limitations of digital accessibility (Maloy, Verock, Edwards & Woolf, 2017). We must remember that the whole objective for this learning approach is to prepare our students for digital learning. Technology agreements should be signed by all parties to ensure its implementation and expectations to avoid legal disputes such as inefficient use of technology. To ensure that students are receiving a digital learning, teachers must combat the challenges and seek other technological tools that are legally appropriate for our students. Other financial costs can be done through fundraisers to help offset costs as well and purchase more resources such as laptops.

So let’s conquer a 21st learning approach by seeking support from all!  Let’s not make costs a factor to an inadequate education! Education must be a priority for all! Let’s not be afraid to seek assistance but let’s advocate for a prestigious education our students deserve! Biba Guam! Let’s make a difference in our child(ren) lives to provide a better future! Let us seat the right individuals this election year!

References:

Kapuler, D. (2013 August 8). 10 Sites for differentiated instruction. Retrieved from http://www.techlearning.com/default.aspx?tabid=100&entryid=6226

Maloy, R. W., Verock, R., Edwards, S. A., & Woolf, B. P. (2017). Transforming learning with new technologies (3rd ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.

“MobyMax” (2016). Retrieved from http://www.mobymax.com/

Smaldino, S., Lowther, D., Russell, J. & Mims, C. (2015). Instructional technology and media for learning. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: PEARSON

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