I wonder how many teachers know what their school or district’s Technology Use Plan is for this year, next year and in five years! I would think that not many do know and are not privy to this information. After reading through the Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan (1996) and the National Technology Educational Plan, I understand how important it is that all teachers know what their school or district has planned for the classroom and school in terms of new technology. A Technology Use Planning is a joint effort from many different sectors of our community, faculty, teachers, administrators, parents, local technology professionals, and business people. The collective input from a planning committee should have a common goal in mind when setting out to create a Technology Use Plan. This plan would include short and long term goals based on the application(s) and technology. The plan’s focus would be to incorporate application(s) and technology into the school and classroom to assist and ensure the success of the learners through the use of the technology and application(s). The NCREL defined a Technology Use Plan as “An effective technology plan is based on the shared vision of educators, parents, community members, and business leaders who have technological expertise. It ensures that technology strengthens existing curricula and supports meaningful, engaged learning for all students. It also specifies how the technology will be paid for and how its use will be supported” (1998).
Now that the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 is out and available for review we can see how the federal government is planning to address the use of technology at all levels of education from k-12 to higher education. The plan is intended to take five years to take shape and be in full operation. The NETP has addressed five goals and recommendations for successful implementation. The goals and recommendations are listed as:
1. Learning: Engage and Empower – This addresses the learner in a way that will empower and engage the learner to participate in a learning environment in and out of school in a creative, knowledgeable and ethical manner in a society that is networked globally.
2. Assessment: Measure What Matters – Educators will utilize the power in technology to assess all learners in a timely manner using data readily available through the use of appropriate technologies and incorporate continuous improvements when warranted.
3. Teaching: Prepare and Connect – Teachers will collaborate via technology to share data, content, expertise, and learning experiences to create a more effective learning process and environment to ensure the success of all learners.
4. Infrastructure: Access and Enable – An infrastructure for success will be made available to all teachers and learners when and where they need it.
5. Productivity: Redesign and Transform – The educational sector will incorporate all forms of appropriate technology in a more efficient manner to improve learning outcomes.
I believe the NETP addresses a lot of glaring problems and concerns in a positive and effective way that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of all educators in improving learner outcomes.
There are however a few areas in the NETP that are concerning. The NETP states “We will close the achievement gap so that all students – regardless of race, income, or neighborhood – graduate from high school ready to succeed in college and careers” (NETP 2010). This statement seems to be very bold and somewhat inconceivable unless a few things happen that could be detrimental to the educational system. In an era of reduced funding, lower standards and greater economic stress for most families, especially lower class, we see younger people working instead of going to school to help pay bills. We need to hold learners more accountable for their education instead of lowering our standards to ensure that all learners graduate from HS.
The Executive Summary of the NETP raises a lot of questions in their statements that should be addressed to allow for clarification as to how the statements(goals) will be accomplished.
John See (1992) raises a valid point in his argument that technology planning should be constructed in way that allows for shorter time periods to accomplish the set goals for the district and schools. By planning for long term accomplishment, the district and school almost ensure that funding for future technologies will not be adequate and foreseeable technologies may be obsolete or out dated when the plan matures. See recommends a plan of approximately two years and even a year if possible to allow for reevaluations on a more frequent basis. I agree partly with this method of planning. Short term planning can have a positive effect on the application and integration of new technology and save money in the long run. Developing a long term plan in conjunction with the short term plan will allow the immersion of the new technology into a solid foundation of integrated instruction. Only developing a short term plan can have an adverse effect if teachers and learners spend significant time relearning the new technology. The incorporation of a leveled(staged) technology plan can be extremely effective financially and educationally in the classroom.
See suggests that the problem with most technology use plans is that the focus is on the inputs not the outputs. This suggests that the plans set their goals on integrating technology into the classroom just for the sake of adding technology with no clear application of utilizing the technology other then enhancing the curriculum. See states “Develop a plan that specifies what you want your students, staff, and administration to be able to do with technology and let those outcomes determine the types and amount of technology you will need” (1992). The common approach to adding technology into the classroom is to buy a computer, however there are many other forms of technology that can be utilized in the classroom as integration into the curriculum. The forms of technology include but are not limited to: digital cameras, video cameras, microphones, TV’s, web cams, digital pads, kitchen tools, woodworking tools, and art supplies. I agree with See that more attention needs to be paid to the application of the technology as an output device and not having technology just to have it. The new technology should not only enhance the learning but more so improve the learner and the outcome of the learner in a digital global world.
In my eight years of teaching experience I have worked for a very large school district and a smaller school district. It seems that the larger the district the more micro managed it tries to be. In the five years with the larger district we were constantly adding new programs without giving them a chance to root and establish a solid foundation for testing the success or failure of the program. The first half of each teacher development day was spent in front of a computer or video screen learning a new program to help integrate technology into our classroom instruction and assessment. In the smaller district the new technology or application is given time to flourish into a successful program creating a solid foundation for the learner, teacher, school and district. A technology use plan should be collaborated between many resources such as teachers, faculty, administration, local professionals and parents to develop a concise plan that spans a duration that is appropriate for the individual district. The use of short and long term goals would best suit mast if not all districts to allow for some flexibility and a vision for the future.
I believe my school district is on the right track as far as how and when to introduce new applications for classroom instruction, but we are lacking in the inclusion of teachers and faculty in developing the technology use plan. The NCREL states clearing where we are in our educational system and integrating technology. “Technology is transforming society, and schools do not have a choice as to whether they will incorporate technology but rather how well they use it to enhance learning” (North Central Regional Educational Laboratory & Illinois State Board of Education, 1995).