Tech Use Planning Overview

In these days of technological developments that are increasing in an exponential fashion, it is increasingly important for schools to systematically address the role technological can and will take in their schools. Schools cannot solely provide technological gadgets and gizmos and feel they are doing well, schools must have comprehensive plans that begin with organizing a team that will go about this process, doing research to figure out what needs there are in the school and how technology can address these needs, forumlate the school’s plan and finalize it and then continuously monitor and assess the plan and make changes as necessary (Mississipi State Graduate Students, 1996). By doing this process, schools can move from what Kimball and Sibley (1998) call the ‘emergent’ technological maturity stage to the ‘intelligent’ stage of maturity.
One way that can help guide these teams of professionals that are looking to construct tech plans is to have the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 (NETP) give ideas for goals and objectives. The NETP gives recommendations in the areas of: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, and productivity. By keeping these things in mind, schools can begin to develop short-term (one to two years, as technology is increasing so rapidly) plans that they will continuously revisit.
By being systematic and going through all of the stages (or the cycle) of planning, schools can begin to develop into schools that reflect the society they find themselves in in the United States, something that the NETP (2010) states as imperative. The NETP further considers assessment as an area that should be considered in planning. Schools need to be doing more with data, be more data-driven, and use technology to give feedback to the teachers and administration, the students, and the parents. By building this into a well thought out plan, schools can be transparent, make data-based decisions, and firmly place themselves in the 21st century. Furthermore, this can also lead to the ‘value-added’ idea that is being floated around these days in regards to monitoring teacher progress. Assess the teachers too!
In addition to assessment, another theme in technology use in schools that continues to rear it’s head, is the idea of being flexible in educating the students in the U.S. (Jones, 2000; NETP, 2010); there is no overly compelling reason these days why 40 students that are around the same age have to sit in the same room, at same time, and do the same thing. Jones (2000) writes in his article about how to develop online curriculum that the model of education that was created in the 19th century remains fundamentally the same. This is problematic given that our society has changed drastically just in the last 20 years. Therefore, it is widely believed that education systems need to take into consideration the nearly constant and omnipresent internet access that abounds when thinking about how to deliver curriculum. At the very least, students may be able to become less reliant on people to come over and teacher them if they are bed ridden, and we can move away from antiquated independent learning models that seem to do a minimal amount of educating. These students who have typically been on the fringes can reconnect to the local district. And from this small goal the sky is the limit on where schools can go with being flexible in the delivery of state standards.
Personally, I have had limited views of tech use planning in the schools that I’ve worked in. That is why some areas of my current school score low in my technology maturity rankings. It seems that many schools provide computers, internet access and online gradebooks and attendance, and whatever else happens is a mystery, left up to administration or committees. That is why it’s exciting to read about what schools should be doing if they want to be ‘intelligent’ schools in regards to tech maturity. While some things on the benchmarks are so outdated it’s funny (i.e. teachers having an email address), other things are yet to be accomplished at my school (i.e. technology professional development).
I’m moving to a new school next year and am becoming excited for two reasons. Firstly, I can’t wait to see if this new school rates higher in it’s tech maturity than my current school. And secondly, I already have ascertained that there is a tech planning team at this new school that I hope to ingratiate myself with and help out. It is evident from first reading the NETP ideas and then reading the guidelines set forth by the Mississippi State graduate students, that having a computer in every class and a few computer labs is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to integrating technology into the curriculum. It is no easy task to make and review effective plans, but it is necessary, and I hope to increasingly become a part of this evolution in education with these ideas I have garnered during this module.


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