Technology Use Planning Overview

Technology use planning can best be described as the act of creating a strategy that directs both a schools technology purchases, as well as the implementation of that technology into the learning environment. Technology use planning is an ongoing process and a schools strategy must constantly evolve, just as the technology itself continuously evolves. The objective of this planning process is that through optimal technology integration, a school can better serve its students in obtaining the best education possible. In November of 2010, the U.S. Department of Education released the National Education Technology Plan titled, Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology. This plan is significant because it presents five primary goals for technology use planning, each of which is based off what the department deems as the five essential components of technology driven learning. They consider these essential components to be learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. The plan offers recommendations for states, school districts, government agencies, and other community members.

In his article, Developing Effective Technology Plans, John See argues that effective technology plans are those which are short term rather than long term. As far as I am concerned, See is right on the money when it comes to his suggested timeframes for technology use plans. Sticking to a five year plan could be disastrous to both a schools budget and their ability to keep up with current needs of the education sector. The reason that I agree with him so wholeheartedly is that I see our technology continuing to change exponentially faster, which makes long term planning decisions based on day and date technology or trends subject extremely dangerous. This unpredictable nature of technology is evidenced by the fact that the Infrastructure section of the National Education Technology Plan report consists primarily of generalized recommendations for technology implementation.

The National Education Technology Plan recommends broadband everywhere, access devices for every student and educator, open educational resources, and next-generation computing services such as virtualization and cloud computing. However, the plan does not specifically advise schools which vendor or manufacturer they should purchase these items or services through. The reason why the plan doesn’t specifically recommend schools purchase iPad’s for every student, which would technically meet the goal of access devices for every student and educator, is that the U.S. Department of Education acknowledges the impossibility of accurately predicting what technology should be implemented five years from now. See’s suggestion for one year plans or even dividing plans into phases rather than years is the most realistic and responsible route to take in developing effective technology plans.

See also comments that truly effective technology plans don’t focus solely on the technology itself, but rather the best plans are those designed around the applications of the technology. In my experience taking this approach is best simply due to the cost saving it results in alone. As someone who dabbles in small businesses technical consulting alongside my day job, I frequently encounter clients with a preconceived notion that name brand or state of the art technologies are the only answers to their problems. Many clients often seem to already have it set in their head what they want and are looking for me to reaffirm their opinions. However, after sitting down with them and figuring out what applications they are hoping to carry out with their new technology, we often end in agreement that they don’t actually need brand new technology. By focusing on the applications of the office technology before creating a plan, I am usually able to come in under my given budget. This means more funding for future technology integration.

When it comes to tech use planning in my school, I feel the biggest mistake is that all input and decision-making appears to rest in the hands of a few individuals. In my opinion, it would be pertinent to periodically gather feedback from all faculty, staff, and students in order to ensure the technology plan addresses the needs of the entire campus body. If a school leaves the technology planning entirely up to the president, technology director, and a handful of others, it risks potentially overlooking a technical deficiency that needs to be remedied. Since changes within a school usually impact teachers and students most directly, it only makes sense that they have some say in potential future technology applications in the classroom. Reflecting further on my school in particular, we are one campus in a system of 48 schools. Due to the fact that we part of a family of schools, I see additional importance in ensuring our technology use planning remains consistent with what the other campuses are doing. In short, just as recommended in the Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan, my school needs to work harder to involve all stakeholders in the process.

References

Anderson et al. (1996). Guidebook for developing an effective instruction technology plan. Retrieved March 19,2011 from: http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf

See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. Retrieved March 20, 2011 from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education (2010). Office of educational technology, Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Retrieved March 19, 2011from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf

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