A new program being developed by the the Center for Research on Learning and Technology (CRLT) at Indiana University, Bloomington, called TechAudits, could be a boon to school districts that want a comprehensive assessment of their schools’ technology for better planning and accountability.

The audits are just one of several K-12 technology initiatives the center has been working to develop since its launch last July.

“Through the eRate and other initiatives, there has been a lot of technology coming into schools,” said Thomas Duffy, director of the center. “But there’s not much support for the technology and, many times, school districts don’t really know what they have.”

A TechAudit is an examination of all aspects of technology use in a school district. The audit is conducted by a team of nationally recruited external auditors who have extensive experience with technology and education.

The TechAudit team will work closely with district leaders to come up with a plan to fit the district’s needs. The audit also includes surveys of a large sample of faculty, staff, and students, as well as classroom visits for live interviews. The team also examines any reports and documents relating to technology use within the district.

TechAudits will be marketed by Phi Delta Kappa International (PDKI) and should be available to school districts this spring, according to PDKI’s Alan Backler, director of the program.

Burlington School District in Vermont and Metropolitan School District of Perry Township, Ind., will serve as test runs for the program, Backler said.

The fee for a TechAudit will range from $30,000 to $50,000, depending on reporting options and the size of the district. The audit includes a week-long, on-site visit by the TechAudit team and customizable reporting available in either traditional paper form, multimedia, or a combination of the two.

Other resources

CRLT, which takes over for the now-defunct Center for Excellence in Education, is making the most of several multi-year, multi-million-dollar grants to initiate a variety of projects in areas such as professional development for teachers, interactive distance learning, and classroom uses of technology.

Another project under development at the center is called the Internet Learning Forum (ILF), a $1.4 million initiative funded over three years by the National Science Foundation. This program will feature a virtual community in which math and science teachers can share their experiences in an online environment.

“If we’re going to develop teachers’ pedagogical practices, then those teachers need a community in which they can talk to each other and share ideas,” Duffy said.

ILF will feature a “community of practice,” in which teachers will not only share ideas, but also share common goals, methods, history, and identity. Central to the project will be recorded video of teachers in action. A film team will visit classrooms to interview teachers and record their lessons.

The forum is still in the development stage, Duffy said, with a public launch of the web site expected Feb. 1.

A third project currently under development at CRLT is the Learning to Teach with Technology Studio (LTTS), an internet-based, anywhere-anytime professional development environment to support K-12 teachers in integrating technology into the classroom.

Other programs to be offered by the center include:

• Technology for Engaged and Active Middle Schools, a project in which groups of teachers look for ways to effectively use technology in the classroom through student-centered projects.

• Leadership Training for Technology Coordinators, which provides district-level technology coordinators from across the state of Indiana to network with colleagues, explore and experiment with new tools, and discuss trends in instructional technology.

Contact CRLT for more information on these fee-based programs.

Burlington School District
http://www.state.vt.us/schools/ira/bsd.htm

Center for Research on Learning and Technology
http://crlt.indiana.edu

Indiana University, Bloomington
http://www.indiana.edu/iub

Metropolitan School District of Perry Township
http://www.msdpt.k12.in.us

Phi Delta Kappa International
http://www.pdkintl.org