“The joke is that I was genetically engineered for this position,” Lindsey Roberts-Walstrom says with a laugh. “Because my dad was a computer programmer – he built me a working computer when I was three – and my mom was a teacher.”
Today, Lindsey – who was the valedictorian of her class when she graduated from the Education Media Design & Technology master’s program – is the curriculum specialist for technology integration for West Hartford Public Schools (WHPS), a district of 16 schools and 10,000 or so students. As her title suggests, she helps with incorporating technology into the district’s classrooms and working with teachers and principals to develop tech-friendly lesson and unit plans. Or, as she puts it, “Working one-on-one with teachers who want to use technology or redesign what they’re doing now; [I] help them visualize what they want the integration of technology to look like, and help guide their decision making to achieve their vision.”
Lindsey has a background in the classroom. For seven years before enrolling at Full Sail, she was a special education and elementary schoolteacher in West Hartford schools, having completed a triple major in elementary education, special education, and early education at Juniata College in Pennsylvania. And as a teacher with a genetic predisposition to the latest gadgetry, she found herself incorporating technology into her classroom at every opportunity.
“When I was looking for a master’s degree, I wanted to learn more about how I could use technology in interesting ways,” she says. She chose Full Sail’s Education Media Design & Technology program both because it offered her that learning and because it was an online program, which meant she could stay in Connecticut with her husband and baby boy. “The timing was perfect,” she says. “Everyone is looking for someone who knows what they’re talking about – how to use [technology] to teach.”
After graduation, Lindsey joined the team that was leading West Hartford district’s technology overhaul. Like districts all over the country, WHPS wants to use the Web and mobile devices – Chromebooks, iPads, Google apps, Google docs, VoiceThread, etc. – to redefine students’ educational experience for the 21st century, making it more engaging, collaborative, and interactive.
“We are seeing a shift in thinking about who owns the learning, the teacher or the student,” she says when asked how she expects tech to change the classroom over the next decade. “Quality technology integration gives kids a global voice, and an opportunity to extend themselves beyond pleasing the teacher – an opportunity to pursue their interests, and contribute to the intellectual world around them. They’re using computers to discover, investigate, create, and share; not just display.”
In other words, memorization and recitation of facts is less important than learning how to learn – how to cipher through and critically assess the myriad data that can be gleamed from any 10-year-old’s smartphone.
“The intent of extending digital access to students is that learners will become more involved, motivated, creative and more confident in their own self-worth as valuable contributors to our society,” she says.