We all realize that planning is paramount to a successful project, and no one understands this more than educators. From plans that guide daily lessons to plans that chart student learning goals, define disciplinary proceedings and facilitate college acceptance, it takes a great deal of planning to successfully shepherd a student from K through 12 and into the higher education system beyond.
That’s why it’s surprising that, when it comes to implementing technology in the classroom, school districts often don’t take the time to build a shared vision and bring all the key stakeholders into a planning initiative.
Schools are adding next generation displays, projectors, tablets, notebooks and other connected devices in record numbers, typically with the aim of facilitating 1:1 learning. Yet many of these programs are flagging, as teachers and students alike struggle to shoehorn technology into a system and learning model that was developed long before these devices existed.
By contrast, when implemented strategically, classroom technology can be an extraordinary enablement tool for new levels of interactivity, engagement and democratization of learning across students with different abilities and skillsets.
The key is for schools to facilitate teachers in the development of practical, tech-enabled lesson plans. How? By developing and implementing a strategic plan of their own, of course.
Step 1: Create a task force to define a shared vision and common language structure
For technology programs to be successful, stakeholders must first align on the purpose of the program. The first step is creating a task force to build and define a “shared vision.” Both of these words are equally important.
Shared – Task forces should bring together representatives from both sides of the aisle – technology and learning. This group should consist of teachers, school building leaders (e.g. principals), superintendents, parents, students, CIOs and tech implementers. Task forces should meet on a weekly basis and share ongoing communication during the planning phase, and continue to meet occasionally after the launch of the technology program.
Vision – The vision this task force creates should not be a technology vision, but a learning vision that uses technology to support and unlock greater levels of engaged learning.
(Next page: Step 2 and a detailed edtech implementation plan template)
Step 2: Formalize a plan
This group’s primary deliverable should be a formal implementation plan that maps out a clear path to successful program implementation and measurement. Every school’s needs will be different, but the template below may help you get started.
Technology Implementation Plan
Articulate the task force’s shared vision for student learning.
Consider how technology might play a role in supporting the shared vision.
Define a few technology use cases for each discipline, based on industry research and exemplars. These use cases should support your shared vision and clearly offer value to students in unlocking learning.
Detail a list of the technologies needed to support these use cases.
Outline the budget required to support the purchase and implementation of these technologies. Assign responsibilities for researching, vetting vendors and executing contracts.
Define a timeline for acquiring and integrating these technologies. Clearly identify stakeholders and assign responsibilities and procedures for implementation and ongoing maintenance.
Professional learning is a strategic imperative to a technology advancement plan. Your task force should create a detailed plan for training and coaching teachers and administrators on how to utilize the new technology in a way that supports your shared vision. Assign responsibilities for communication, development and delivery of each program. The Professional Learning plan should include a systematic approach to Summer workshops and fall and spring semester modeling, teaming and gathering iterative input from the teaching community.
Summer Workshop Days
Detail how the task force will deliver hands-on training and enablement workshops to administrators and teachers, possibly in conjunction with technology consultants or suppliers. These one- or two-day workshops should offer teachers curriculum exemplars and practical classroom resources for their discipline. They should also support teachers in developing, sharing and refining plans for their own lessons.
Fall and Spring Modeling and Team Teaching
These twice-a-year training sessions should reinforce the shared vision and engage educators in dialogue about their experiences. Continue to share exemplars and practical resources. Facilitate teachers in modeling and team teaching utilizing grade-level and subject-area-appropriate strategies and tools.
Define how you will measure the success of your program. There are many different ways to measure your success qualitatively and quantitatively, including teacher comfort, adoption and student impact. Leverage existing frameworks, such as the University of South Florida’s Technology Integration Matrix (TIM) or Henrico public schools in Virginia’s Technology Integration Performance Chart (TIPC). These frameworks both create demonstrable examples of what it means for teachers to progress and grow, and as such, they can be helpful for both teachers and administrators in charting and measuring success.
Cultural enablement and incentives
Just like students, teachers need the freedom to experiment with technology implementations and fail forward. Develop a list of cultural core values for your technology program that include embracing failure, encouraging innovation and supporting open sharing of one’s mistakes and lessons learned. Take these core values one step further by developing incentives and contests that reward teacher innovation.
If your school or district was a technology early adopter, it’s not too late to develop a task force and formalize your technology strategy. It simply means you’ll have more lessons learned to pull from and perhaps even greater buy-in from teachers who truly understand the consequences of implementing technology without a clear strategy in place.
And if you’re a teacher or tech employee, don’t wait for administrators to spearhead your school’s strategy – offer to coordinate the task force yourself. Developing a technology implementation strategy can be daunting, but not as daunting as wasting time, money and energy on a program that’s doomed to fail.