In an era of increased accountability for schools, it’s no longer enough simply to conduct informational studies asking school staff what types of technology they feel comfortable using. These days, school leaders must use this valuable information in a way that increases productivity.

In this case study, the lead media specialist at Winona (Mich.) Middle School explains how to use an online collaboration tool to compile information and effectively follow up on staff self-assessments of technology skills. The process is fairly simple, according to Anderson, who used a free online tool called Profiler ( to collect information about staff members’ technology skills. Here are the steps to do it at your own district:

1. Choose an online survey tool. Anderson chose Profiler based on its prior successes, ease of use, immediacy, and understandable data analysis. “Of course, the fact that Profiler is free was also a factor,” she said.

2. Examine the product and assess its capabilities. At Winona Public Schools, a subcommittee of the technology committee—composed of a school board member, a principal, and the district’s curriculum director—examined the 30-question Profiler Basic Skills Checklist.

3. Adapt the online survey to meet your needs. According to Anderson, “We used some questions from the Profiler Basic Skills survey, edited others to better assess our district’s capabilities, deleted some questions, and added some of our own.” The final 40 questions fell into six categories: Operating Systems, Troubleshooting, Tool Application, Telecommuni-cations, Multimedia, and Curriculum Integration.

4. Train staff members how to administer the survey. At a two-hour meeting last fall, a staff development director taught attendees how to log into Profiler, create an account, and take the specially-designed survey.

5. Have staff members take the survey. More than 90 percent of the teaching staff at Winona Public Schools had taken the survey by the end of September.

6. Compile and examine the data. Anderson downloaded the data into an Excel spreadsheet and used the spreadsheet to produce graphs. In approximately two hours, she had created graphs for each building and skill category.

7. Share the information with pertinent staff, such as principals and the district’s staff development committee.

8. Use the data to create personal growth plans for staff members. The Winona district’s technology plan specifies that teachers create a one-page personal growth plan that focuses on technology. The plan should list the educator’s proficiencies, areas of desired improvement, and goals for the year.