Maureen Miller recently joined Deerfield High School’s staff as the new Director of Instructional Technology.
“My role is to support teachers and students to integrate more technology in the classrooms,” she said. “Technology that will engage students and support them in differentiated instructions that they can pursue.”
Miller was formerly trained as a science teacher and started her career in Virginia. She moved to the Chicago area in 1992 and transitioned to Waukegan High School. An interest in technology landed her on a pilot team in Waukegan that provided her with six desk top computers and a dial up modem. “That was high tech and superfast at the time and I was very excited about a dial up modem,” she remembered. Miller went on to get a Master’s Degree in Technology in Education from National-Louis University. Afterwards, she landed at Edgewood Middle School in Highland Park and eventually transitioned to administration in District 112. Miller was in charge of incorporating technology into students’ curriculum.
“Students are using technology 24/7 except when they walk in the building,” she said and worked at incorporating the tools they use outside school into coursework. “It would be like someone saying let’s not use paper because the tablet was just great -- keep etching in stone,” she joked.
Miller joined DHS at the beginning of the 2012 school year and has been helping teachers push more technology into their classrooms. She has been exposing staff to iPads and their unique capabilities. Another one of her efforts includes introducing Google applications for education.
“A lot of people in tech talk about the four c’s: creativity, collaboration, communication, and critical thinking,” she explained. “Google docs allow them to do that.” Students can upload their work into a Google document and share it with their peers and teachers online. Teachers can provide real time feedback and critique students’ work via the online forum throughout the development process.
She’s also been building different kinds of websites for staff to enhance communication and increase an online presence. Miller worked with a Physical Education teacher to develop a website around a field hockey unit so students could film their classes, post the videos online, and critique their own skills. She’s also working with Spanish teachers to construct a comprehensive website that will feature staff and student restaurant reviews.
Miller believes technology allows students to execute traditional projects in a multitude of ways and encourages them to take advantage of different applications like Glogster -- a graphic blog network or Animoto – which allows users to create videos using photos and music, “The idea is that kids have different interests and teachers allow them to explore those interests so that a project is more engaging for them,” she said.
Besides her vast experience in education, Miller has a unique endorsement from the premier professional association for school district technology leaders. The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has dubbed Miller one of eight Certified Education Technology Leaders in Illinois. CoSN came up with a framework of what a certified education technology leader should look like and developed a metric system for assessing candidates. Miller was one of the first to pass the exam and is excited to be bringing those skills to District 113.
“21st Century kids are wired differently and teaching isn’t the same as it was when we were in school. Students can find answers to anything, anytime,” she said. “As educators, we need to develop their ability to navigate the quantities of information coming at them and support students as they broaden their communication and collaboration skills.”