iAssessment, a Mac compatible application service provider (APS) for the education marketplace, has launched the Teacher Technology Use Survey Module (TechUse), which will be first implemented as part of the California Technology Assistance Project’s (CTAP) online interactive teacher-assessment portal.
iAssessment simplifies the professional development process for educational institutions by providing Web-based self-assessment tools aimed at identifying educator challenges in all areas of teaching. The purpose of the module is to provide an easy-to-use online tool to gather data on how teachers use technology for instruction, for classroom management, the technical support they receive, and on other areas determined by CTAP administrators, according to Dan Cookson, co-founder of iAssessment.
Only accredited California educators will be permitted to access and complete surveys built with the TechUse module. As a result, TechUse will provide districts, schools and staff development providers with information to support and improve their professional development programs, and will provide the state of California with data to support future educational technology funding, Cookson said.
“TechUse is an anxiously anticipated module that will help us to continue to identify our teachers’ professional development needs and measure the results of our efforts to train them,” said Gary Quiring, consultant, California Department of Education. “The results of TechUse survey module will help guide future staff development planning and support grant applications.”
Survey results will be displayed in two formats — a chart format and with a data table for each question — while results for a school, district, county, region and the state will include the same clarification text as the proficiency charts. As a result, administrators will be able to track how many staff members have completed a survey, even though individual results will be kept strictly confidential. At the same time, the results summary of such surveys will also be accessible to the public from the main CTAP site.
“This new TechUse module will help schools, districts, regions and states better understand the technology needs of their teachers, while providing a flexible, online tool for measuring a variety of tech-based results, including the effects of planned technology training sessions and as an indicator to determine how technology is currently being used by educators,” Cookson said.
TechUse is complementary to iAssessment’s proficiency module, which is currently being used by educators in California, Indiana and Arizona. The combination of these two modules provides clear results and data, which can drive and validate planning and budgeting efforts for ongoing teacher development and technology in the classroom, Cookson said.
Currently, over 190,000 educators in California have access to CTAP, which is based on iAssessment’s Diagnostic Learning System (DLS). The assessment tool is based upon the rubrics (criteria) outlined in the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, “Factors to Consider.” These factors serve as California’s K-12 Technology Standard for a preliminary teaching credential.
“We are excited to introduce this new module in the state of California, whose educators have been using our services since we launched our DLS in 1999,” Cookson said. “We anticipate that as other states see how TechUse gives them the ability to immediately produce real-time reports on information and analysis that has been previously impossible to collect, they will want to adopt TechUse into their online educator assessment programs as well.”
The Teacher Technology Use Survey Module integrates with the DSL system. It fits into it as another component.
California educators using iAssessment’s DLS simply log onto the
CTAP Web site using individualized passwords and answer a series of questions divided into categories, such as e-mail, spreadsheets, presentations and instructional technology. As each category is completed, users instantly receive results in a chart format ranking their skills as introductory, intermediate or proficient.
Once an educator takes the online assessment test and learns his or her proficiency level, the DLS recommends a personalized development plan featuring resources designed to help the educator bridge competency gaps and increase skill levels. These resources draw from a database of hundreds of targeted professional development offerings, from classroom-based instruction to e-learning opportunities, through a variety of California K-20 educator institutions and by affordable third-party providers.
Plenty of iAssessment users are Mac users, Cookson told MacCentral. In fact, the Mac OS accounts for an estimated 50-55 percent of the users with Windows users making up most of the other half with a smattering of Unix systems mixed in, he explained.
“As an ASP, we make sure that we’re compatible with a variety of platforms,” Cookson said. “And since it’s almost 100 percent Web based, it’s accessible anytime from any Internet-enabled computer.
All iAssessment services are full compliant with Mac OS X. However, the educational marketplace, especially the K-12 area, is often slow to upgrade to new operating systems because of budgetary calendar constraints.
“But we are ready as clients start to upgrade,” Cookson said. “We’re ready to go on all Apple’s operating systems.”