Technology Use Planning Overview

From my current readings a “technology use plan” is a “living” document that outlines how an organisation will effectively integrate and implement technology.  Obviously a plan for a local government department would be very different for a local library as it would for a large scale high school, hence they cannot be defined by set elements or constructs.

A good technology plan is created based on defined goals and objectives where technology is considered part of the solution in reaching those goals. In terms of education given how ubiquitous technology is in our lives these days it is an absolute necessity that every educational organisation has a TUP.

So how does it benefit education you might ask?  Surely a better question is…
How can we educate the leaders of tomorrow without one?

At the bare minimum an educational TUP  should include a planning and needs assessment of the organisation; the vision, goals, objectives and strategies for technology; policies and procedures from security to equitable access; infrastructure management and support; staff development and training; budget for technology; implementation plan and time line; an evaluation plan.  These are very broad and are simply meant to indicate the general overview of a TUP and how broad the plan itself can be.  But with every plan, an essential question is how long should the plan go? Is one year too short? Five years ok?
John See, a Technology Integration Specialist from the Minnesota Department of Ed, wrote back in 1992 – (yes before most of us even had an email account and when Encyclopedia’s thought they were still safe because they had transitioned to CD-ROM!)

Effective technology plans are short term not long term. Five year plans are too long. Technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to plan what type of technology will be available for use five years from now. Even one year plans may be about as far ahead as we can now effectively plan for specific purchases of certain types or brands of equipment. Pehaps tech plans should be divided into phases, not years.

Wow – did you see that back in 1992? Do you think your school or board still hasn’t seen this? I know my current school principal, Mrs Barbara Stone, must have read this and adopted most of the ideas within it.  About to retire after 25 years at the school Barbara Stone is a visionary in a whole range of areas but especially technology and its application to education.

My school is an Australian private girls school which has been a 1-to-1 laptop school for 15+ years.  Now John See’s 1992 article highlights ten attributes of an effective technology plan and, based on my limited experience of three years at the school simply as a classroom teacher, I would have to say the school scores an 8/10.  The two in bold are significant areas we need to work on.

  1. Effective technology plans are short term not  long term
  2. Effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology
  3. Effective technology plans go beyond enhancing the curriculum
  4. Effective technology plans define technology as more than computers
  5. Effective technology plans stress integration of technology in to the curriculum
  6. Effective technology plans are tied to staff development plans
  7. Effective technology plans make technology part of the daily cost of doing business
  8. Effective technology plans have critical attributes based on research
  9. Effective technology plans are developed by the staff members who will implement the plan
  10. Effective technology plans focus on a vision.

In a nutshell the “vision” many years ago was to “transform learning” for our girls and help them become global citizens and more independent learners.  The early research out of the US was pointing towards a computer in every home and so it was obvious to Stone that the children of tomorrow would need to learn how to use them.   Hence the 1-to-1 laptop program.  In addition the setup of infrastructure and IT support meant technology was more than just the laptops, connectivity and collaborative production of media by students was encouraged throughout the curriculum.  So much so that you could ask students within any subject area to produce a 5 minute short film illustrating a concept they have learnt in their last unit of study and they wouldn’t bat an eyelid at you.  That is just the norm.  Pretty cool really when you sit back and think about it.

Now in relation to the current 2010 US National Educational Technology Plan I think my school stacks up pretty darn well.  Here are my thoughts specifically on the five essential areas for 21st Century education addressed in the plan, learning; assessment; teaching; infrastructure; and productivity.

Learning – we already engage and empower our learners but we can do more.  We still need to develop our online learning courses such that students can advance at their own pace.  Whilst we are in a completely blended environment there is still no avenue for a student to progress to a Year 9 standard if they are in Year 6. We are stuck and restricted by the governmental frameworks that require student advancement based on age. It will be a challenge to break down this barrier.

Assessment – it is the use of data described by the plan here that makes this area so unique.  Sure every school has tried to “differentiate” their assessments and we certainly have a huge variety of styles and tasks both digital and traditional but I know we don’t use the data behind it effectively.  One of these reasons is that until we move assessments online using the right software we don’t have access to the data in a digestible format.  Once this is done right the power of it can be overwhelming – check out this resource which I am currently piloting with my Year 7 class.  The data aspect of it is amazing.

Teaching – connected teachers? It sounds like what many in the EdTech and other fields have been promoting for years.  Teachers need to be active in their own professional development and be apart of a PLC (professional learning community) whatever form that takes.  However this cannot be going to a conference once a year or attending a few PD courses on updates to the curriculum, it has to be ongoing, dynamic, and interactive with other professionals in the field.  Twitter is a great start but as the report suggests the tools are already available it is more about getting teachers to make the shift.  What incentives could we use? Pay? Performance bonuses? Now that is a whole other can of worms!

Infrastructure – always on? And so it should be, our school has done this for years and continues to improve on it.  Like most professional workplaces wifi is accessible from almost anywhere on-site and it is robust and stable.  Unfortunately that is not the case with most schools.  However, “always on” I believe also refers to accessibility of content and that will require entire courses to be available online.  This is a shift my school is only just beginning to make and which I am apart of. Blended learning doesn’t mean only half of the content is available online, it means almost all of the content is available online (with the addition of other referenced resources eg. texts, ebooks etc) but that structured classes are still necessary to complete the course.  Hopefully no one here is advocating for removal of the teacher – perhaps the most integral component in the learning process?

Lastly Productivity – indeed the most challenging one which all governments seem to come up with “do more with less”. Can it be done, well that remains to be seen but I think they are on the right track.  Revisiting basic assumptions about “seat-time” is valid and whilst it will ruffle some feathers is necessary for a complete overhaul of what many futurists see as an archaic learning management system.  Hmm I wonder… does Moodle clock how many hours I’m sitting in my seat? Is that a criterion for getting an A+ grade ?

References
Feds Release New national ed-tech plan (2010, March 8). eSchoolNews. Retrieved from http://www.eschoolnews.com/2010/03/08/feds-release-new-national-ed-tech-plan/2/?

Office of US Dept.Education, (2010, March 5) Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, National Educational Technology Plan 2010 Executive Summary,.Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/NETP-2010-exec-summary.pdf

See, J., (1992) Developing Effective Technology Plans, The Computing Teacher, (19), 8. Retried from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

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One thought on “Technology Use Planning Overview

  1. Doug, you make me feel so inadequate! Chalk and talk teacher! Firstly, can I link your blog to mine and secondly, what exactly do you mean by do more than just enhance the curriculum and focus on applications and not technology? Your blog is GREAT!

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