Sunday, March 15, 2009

What have we learned?

Our technology leadership team has met twice to discuss district wide "agreements" for procuring and managing technology. These agreements are guiding principals for the adoption, support and training of technology. Not only have we reviewed our old agreements for reconsideration, we have broadened our discussion to include the leadership aspects that guide us. These have been added to encourage schools to engage in conversations on the purpose of adopting technology, setting priorities and articulating the responsibilities for everyone in this endeavor. Given that schools are free to choose their own path for technology, discussion seems warranted.

We have learned a lot from each other in these discussions. I get a glimpse of the pressures that our administrators and building techs have in their day to day work. We have different challenges and different perspectives but the more we talk, the more we realize our shared interests and goals; To integrate technology in a way that benefits student achievement, in the most cost effective manner.

Our primary disagreements are struggles to determine who pays for what; Who will help me when I have a problem? How long can I expect the district to repair computers? Where will I get the money to pay for repairs? These questions are more about resource allocation, to time, money. Our conversations covered:

  • What should students/teachers know about technology?
  • How do we help teachers integrate technology into the curriculum, into their expectations for students and into their instruction?
  • How much time will be allocated for training and support?
  • What is the optimum number of computers per child/staff?
  • Can we afford to provide the resources that we desire?
  • How do we calculate the cost of support?
  • How do we protect our investment while providing easy access?
  • How do we sustain what we own, while adopting new and different technology?
  • Can we afford to let every teacher and school to choose their own technology?

The agreements are the boundaries for operating but they only represent the minimum; the minimum required to do no harm. Schools need a proactive plan for implementing technology. Above the mechanics of how things work, how the infrastructure is built and maintained is the vision of the school for inspiring students and teachers - the meaning of it all. Here are some thoughts on that:

Connecting the Mechanics to the Meaning
Technology for What?
(Parameters for Decision-Making)

How much money is allocated to each building?
What in-kind support does the school offer to technology purchase / support?
What additional support is provided from the district?
How does the budget enable / limit the allocation of time for technology?
If more money were available, how would it be spent?

Training - Staff Needs
What do we expect staff to practice / understand about technology?
What do they lack?
Do we have time to teach them?
What does the school / district provide?
How and in what manner should we increase training opportunities?

Does everyone understand what is allowed / not allowed.
Does everyone know what they are responsible for?
What is the consequence for ignoring agreements?

How does the school facility provide or limit access to technology?
What changes would improve this?

How does technology impact the delivery of instruction?
How does the student interact with technology?
What soft skills does the student need - beyond touching the keyboard?
How does the class schedule impact technology integration?