Saturday, April 25, 2009

Technology Planning

Spent two days working on the tech plan for our school district. This gave me ample opportunity to consider what we have accomplished and what is left undone. There is no doubt that we have been moving about as fast as we can to keep up with the demands of software, hardware and support. On the whole, are we improving the state of instructional technology across the district? What would be the major indicators of such progress?

According to the Colorado Department of Education, progress will be indicated by an increase in:

  • the integration of educational technology / information literacy (ET/IL) into the curriculum.
  • an increase in the proficiency of teachers and administrators in their use of technology.
  • an increase in the proficiency of 8th graders on 21st Century learning skills
  • a budget that indicates support into the future and includes training, infrastructure improvement, provision of bandwidth and support.
  • policies and procedures for insuring student safety and specifying the rights and responsibilities of users.
  • collaboration among staff and outside entities to achieve the goals.
  • An action plan of goals, objectives, strategies and a method of evaluation.

This list of requirements is a large bill to fill. We are on top of some and lagging on others. My biggest concern is in the area of training. While we are pressing hard on training in general in the district, we have done very little to help teachers understand and find ways to use technology to learn and teach. We are just beginning to expect teachers to do this. While this is a great start, the expectations in themselves will do no more than frustrate teachers.

A key indicator of progress will be the degree that staff are collaborating and communicating with one another in their use of technology. This movement will be a sign that we are using technology to actually teach and learn from one another. Hopefully it will indicate that we are developing resources that are useful, and that will leverage our knowledge and skill.

To this end, it appears that the time is right for implementing and training teachers to use more tools for collaboration. People are ready to publish staff resources on the web, in a format that can be used and/or edited and improved. The goal is to create resources - references that will help teachers focus their instruction and save them time. We can create a workspace where people can discuss and generate ideas (a wiki) and another space where these ideas are formalized into adopted practices and resources (Moodle). I am encouraged that there is some understanding and desire among administrators to move in this direction. Hopefully we can deliver the tools AND shape and structure them in a fashion that is relevant for teachers.

I still have quite a bit of work to do on the technology plan. It is due this Thursday. I hope we can realize some of the goals in the plan, especially the promotion of tools for teaching and learning.