As a kindergarten teacher in a public school, I see the necessity of technology use planning. Children are surrounded by rapidly advancing technology each day. I hope to show them the benefits of these advances in an integrated and useful way. This is, frankly, quite simple to do because I have a passion for technology and its’ benefits. However, planning for the technology needs of an entire school is much more complex.
When trying to define technology use planning, I returned back to the same words that are in the phrase itself; we are planning how to utilize technology in our school. This seems simple enough. In fact, the concept of technology use planning is not very difficult to understand. However, the planning itself is much more difficult. There are a lot of outside factors that are considered when creating a technology use plan.
One of my first education courses in 1999 was a course in differentiating instruction. We (education students) were beginning to understand that all students are unique and learn in different ways. Similarly, no two school districts are the same. Just as children have different experiences, relationships, and strengths, so does a group of professionals working in a school. These unique factors, both of the student population and the educators themselves, must be considered when creating a technology plan in your school district.
The National Educational Technology Plan 2010 provides a good starting point for educators. It provides ideas on technology integration, assessment, and encourages the use of technology to inspire and motivate students. It also provides some essential questions for educators to consider. For example, within the introduction I found one of the most basic questions that must be answered by each, individual, district: “What should learning in the 21st century look like” (NETP, 2010). Personally, I think learning should be developmentally appropriate, related to the real world, and challenging. The learning you complete in school should prepare you for the world and encourage you to be a life-long learner. Each person, and school district, will have a different answer to this question relating to their our own experiences, strengths, and weaknesses.
So, again, “What will learning in the 21st century look like” (NETP, 2010)? When answering this question, I cannot help but chuckle. When trying to identify what education should look like in the 21st century, you start to consider how much has changed in just the first 11 years of this century. When I was in college in 2000, technology integration was a much different concept. I think that for this reason, short-range plans are the most logical. John See of the Minnesota Department of Education addressed the length of term for a technology plan. He states, “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” (See, 1992). I agree with this statement. When I think back five years, I see all of the differences in technologies that are available now. We would not have been able to plan for the current advancements, nor will be able to see ahead five years from now. John See states, “Perhaps tech plans should be divided into phases, not years” (See, 1992). I can see the benefits of such a plan. By keeping dates open, you are allowed the freedom of choice and changes in your plan based on the advancements in technology.
When considering how much technology changes in such a small period of time, it also makes you wonder how to best prepare your school for these changes. If your district strives to purchase each new piece of equipment without a plan or reason, you will be spending a lot of money on learning experiences that are not integrated. Technology for the sake of technology does not improve student learning. John See mentions, “Effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology” (See, 1992). Lessons in the classroom should be effective, worthwhile, and more exciting with the use of technology. The lesson changes with technology integration, but only because the lesson is improved when technology is utilized. We do not want students to become the victims of fragmented, un-integrated, teaching that simply tries to expose students to as much technology as possible.
After a plan is developed, you can begin to look at which technologies will best meet the needs of you and your students. Larry Anderson and John Perry, both of the National Center for Technology Planning, state, “Rather than concentrate on the many specific elements that are to be enumerated within a maximally-effective plan, the focus should be on major points. Later, after the “big picture” is conveyed and understood, a planner will be able better to address the minor, yet still important, elements” (Anderson, Perry 1994). The details, which I find to be a very exciting part of the plan, will be developed…eventually. By starting with a broad picture that focuses on the why rather than the how, a team will have a better understanding of their goals for their district.
I have very little experience in technology use planning. I am a part of technology committee in our district; however, my experience with developing a plan is limited. What will be my role in future technology use planning? We will be developing a new plan shortly. I would like to think that my experiences in this graduate program are preparing me for changes in my district. It does seem like perfect timing. Using what I am learning now, I hope to be an important part of the technology use planning team in my district.
Anderson, L. & Perry, J. (1994). Technology planning: Recipe for success. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/tp_recipe.cfm
See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
U.S. Department of Education. (2010). National Education Technology Plan 2010. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf