1. Start with defining technology use planning–how would you describe it?
Technology use planning is a map. Instead of mapping out how to get to a physical location, it maps out how technology can be integrated into the classroom to maximize the results and minimize the costs. It should be inclusive in the sense that it focuses on how the technology will work for all students. It is also inclusive in that it should take into account the teachers, administrators, and financial stakeholders. All groups involved need to be moving in the same direction with a understood and agreed upon purpose. Technology use planning is an integrated plan that accounts for all members with the goal of creating a purposeful plan, not a random patchwork. It should be purposeful and add value.
2. How might the new National Educational Technology Plan 2010 be an effective and powerful resource for technology use planning?
The NETP 2010 addresses five main areas: Learning, Assessment, Teaching, Infrastructure, and Productivity. In addition to those areas, it also makes recommendations for federal, state, and local stakeholders. This is an important part of good technology use planning. It is a team effort that needs a single minded approach from multiple levels of government. The plan helps focuses decision-makers on the key questions. “The model asks that we focus what and how we teach to match what people need to know, how they learn, where and when they will learn, and who needs to learn.” (U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology)
The plan makes several strong recommendations to the policymakers and stakeholders across the country. They are essential guidelines for any teacher, administrator, or district board member to follow as they map out the use of technology in their classroom, school, or district. The key focus is put the responsibility for learning on the student. Learning is not about listening to a lecture and spitting it back. Instead, the students should be steering their own ship and finding their own way. Curriculum and assessment needs to be focused. All class lessons and activities should be essential for accomplishing a specific goal. All assessments should address the essential components of the specific goals that were targeted. Finally, the plan places a strong emphasis on providing broad access to the tools students need.
3. Do you agree with See about tech use plans needing to be short, not long term?
Partially. In life, it is important to have long term and short term goals. The short term goals should be more specific, but should help build to the broader long term goal. Technology planning should be the same. For example, the NETP 2010 has a very serious long term goal of significantly increasing the proportion of Americans with a college degree. It then creates smaller goals which they hope will be like rungs on a ladder to their lofty goal. It is dangerous to focus too heavily on a long term goal for many reasons. If people get tunnel vision in their attempts to reach a long term goal, they may realize upon achieving it that it is no longer of great value. When having long term goals, it is important to constantly re-evaluate it’s worthiness. On the other hand, having no unified long term goal and only focusing on the short term, is equally as troublesome. If everything is done with only the short term in mind, people run the risk of seeing the short term goals as just a checklist of things to cross off and lose sight of why it is so important.
In planning for classes, I always have a long term and short term goal. The short term goals might be getting the students to explain the causes of World War 1 or compare/contrast Capitalism with Communism. However, with every class, I also include long term goals: expose students to a variety of study techniques, focus on self-evaluation in the formative assessment process, and integrating student culture/experiences into classroom on a regular basis. I believe planning technology should be balanced in a similar way.
4. What do you think about his comment that “effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology?” 5. Do you agree/disagree?
I have seen in my own experiences that technology is often bought and then people try to figure out what they can do with it. This is a backwards (and wasteful) approach. Schools need to instead determine what they want to accomplish and then match the technology to the job. The ultimate goal of placing technology into schools is not so that kids can use fancy gadgets, but so that student achievement can be improved. An assignment being done on a brand new computer does not inherently make it a better learning experience than the same assignment done by hand. When integrating technology, attention must be focused on improving the end result, not adding more hardware or purchasing the latest software
6. What experiences have you had with technology use planning and what have you seen for outcomes (both good and bad?)
Unfortunately, I have mostly experienced poor planning. There tends to be a lack of long term planning with much of the technology that my school district purchases. We may purchase new software. The district will then offer initial training for it, but never follows through with anything beyond that. Many of the teachers won’t feel comfortable enough using it after just a 60 minute training session and the money spent will be wasted as so teachers don’t use it because they are unsure of it or don’t fully understand how to integrate it. Improving the training and the follow through on training would be significantly improve the usage of technology in my school.
Another issue is that the people that will be using the technology on a regular basis (students and teachers) are the people that have the least say in what technology is purchased. The teachers end up with something they never wanted and have to try and figure out how to use it (if use it at all). For example, last year the secondary special education teachers were given a demonstration of a software that was geared towards improving remedial skills. The idea was good. Struggling students could access the software at home or in school and brush up on remedial skills. However, upon testing it, the special education staff unanimously voted against purchasing it. We felt it seemed to elementary for high school kids and we felt that would turn off (or insult) our students. In addition, it lacked a key component: it did not read text to students. Obviously, having text read is a major need for many students receiving special education. To top it off, upon researching the product, there was no research to show student growth from using the program. In the end, the district purchased the program anyway and tried to force teachers into using it.
U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf