Here we are at day 1 beginning the Loti observer session and my first impression was Ahhh… MAC Lab!. However, after a little sucking up to a couple of administrative assistants (danish included) I have "guest access" to the PSD wireless grid on my Tablet. The world is good again 🙂
The session is being presented by Chris Moersch Ed. D the Director of the National Business Education Alliance. The focus for the session was Classroom Observations using the LoTI Observer software/system. Chris was adamant at the outset of the presentation that LoTI was in the process of change… moving away from the technology aspect to more of a holistic observation method focusing on teacher innovation and engaged learning as opposed to technology integration. In fact, he is in the process of re-branding LoTI from Levels of Technology Integration to Levels of Teacher Innovation :) Overall, this is not a bad idea. Chris was very forthcoming and appropriately positioning the "new" LoTI system in a light that would be more favorable to school boards and administrators who are getting far to caught up in those "high stakes testing" initiatives. Bringing the word "technology" into an observational system automatically pigeon-holes an initiative that could be very impactful in a school improvement initiative.
OK, so what is LoTI? In the basic sense it is a system of classroom observation that is quick yet inciteful. Additionally, one of the best aspects that I liked was its focus on professional development NOT classroom/teacher assessment. Under a LoTI observation, the observer is in a classroom for a "walk-through" that lasts on average 5-7 minutes. The assessment is recorded on a wireless device or can be recorded on a Palm or Pocket PC, and later "sync'd" back to the server. The goals of the walkthrough are to observe the engagement and interaction of the students. The use f technology in the lesson by either the teacher or the students can almost be irrelevant, however, through technology immersion it seems that "real" learning is much more impactful overall.
The part I found most interesting was by using the LoTI methodology, an administrator can not only see how the teacher is integrating technology (LoTI), but also the current instructional practices (CIP). To achieve these "indexes" an observer uses either a LoTI Observer form, or a H.E.A.T. (Higher Order Thinking, Engaged Learning, Authentic Assessment, Technology Tools) form recording observations of how the students are reacting to the lesson presentation and interaction. By making simple data choices (checking a box) then submitting the observation, the LoTI Observer system then uses algorithms to return a LoTI and CIP score.
Based on the observations we sampled, it was quite remarkable how accurate the tool was in such a quick span of time. In addition to the LoTI Observer tool set, most all of the LoTI tools are free through a corporate sponsorship from PENTA Water. This means that on a national level, every school and district in the US can use the assessments free of charge. Part of the LoTI tools is a free technology integration survey that will assess a teacher and provide feedback in 5 different professional development areas. As I mentioned earlier one of the best aspects to this system is the PD focus. The goal is to help teachers improve their teaching methodologies and curricular practices to help develop truly authentic learning for students.
What a tremendous resource to have for school improvement.
Note: This entry will continue to be edited over the next 3-4 days to include links and other important (but not currently accessible) information as I am staying in an "Internet-free" zone with some relatives 🙂