Budgets. Student outcomes. Constituent communications. Previously, these were key elements in developing a strategic technology plan. And while those issues are still important, school and district leaders must now factor in that schools may never function the same way again.

In the edWebinar “Strategic Technology Planning: Aligning Priorities, Costs, Outcomes and Sustainability,” the presenters discussed new items that must become part of strategic plans.

Related content: Lessons and leadership during the switch to online learning

Additional edtech budget items: Most administrators’ budgets have detailed estimates that include direct costs (e.g., devices) and indirect costs (e.g., professional development). Now, the presenters have encountered previously unthought-of costs like extended loaner devices, increased repair costs from home use, and distance learning options. Some are also becoming de facto internet service providers as they try to provide WiFi accessibility. With schools planning for potential shutdowns at later dates and with potential changes to learning overall, these costs must be considered immediately.

Enhanced teacher training: Professional development has always been a part of edtech initiatives, but there’s a difference between leading small group projects within the same classroom and coordinating them between students at home. Distance learning requires skill sets teachers might not have focused on before, and schools need to prepare them.

Evolving school services: It’s not just the learning that’s become virtual. Schools need to figure out how to continue all of their offerings, like speech therapy and counseling. Dr. Jeanne Barker, Director of Schools for Lenoir City School System (TN), said they jumped in with teletherapy, but she’s also noticed a need for ELL parents to better understand what’s happening. At Dr. Barker’s schools, they’ve unexpectedly seen parents sitting with the students during online lessons to learn at the same time. Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss, Superintendent of Salisbury Township School District (PA), emphasized they can’t know the struggles of all families, so they need to be talking with families and really listening to what the schools can do to support them.

Reexamining impact and use of edtech tools: Most schools are already collecting data on how frequently programs are used and the impact of the programs on student learning goals. Dr. Chris Gaines, Superintendent of Mehlville School District (MO), said that in his district, they look for value in the investment and what outcomes the edtech is driving. However, with the change to distance learning, those outcomes could change.

Most important, the pandemic has changed how all of the presenters are approaching the overall educational environment. They are taking lessons from the crisis and talking about how these could be applied to their planning. The question, the presenters said, is how much the current situation will change the future education environment.

“Are we planning for one or two years, or are we planning for a long-term shift in the way education looks?” asked Dr. Ziegenfuss.

About the presenters

Dr. Jeanne Barker is the director of schools for Lenoir City School District in Lenoir City, Tennessee. She earned her Ed.D. in educational leadership in 2011 from Trevecca Nazarene University. Her dissertation is entitled, The Effects of an Individual Academic Plan on Improving Student Achievement. Utilizing technology to deliver individualized instruction to each student is a goal of the one-to-one program in Lenoir City Schools. Her goal is to ensure that every student has the skills to achieve their hopes, dreams and aspirations. Dr. Barker serves on the boards for the Loudon County Educational Foundation, Little Tennessee Valley Educational Cooperative, Rotary International, and the Boys and Girls Club of Loudon County. She is also a 2013 Leadership Loudon graduate and a 2019 representative for Loudon County in the Tennessee Regional Leadership Class. Dr. Barker has also served as a principal, a middle school technology/instructional coordinator, grant writer, and teacher.

Dr. Chris Gaines is Superintendent of Mehlville School District in suburban St. Louis. Dr. Gaines previously served as superintendent of Missouri’s Crawford County R-I and Wright City R-II school districts. Under Dr. Gaines’ leadership, Mehlville is expanding opportunities for students. In 2017 the district opened MOSAIC, a personalized learning elementary school, and created the MyPath program, which allows high school students to create their own class. The AASA Digital Consortium visited these programs in the spring of 2018 to gain insight into emerging models of best practices using digital media to support engaging learning experiences. This year Mehlville opened academies at each middle school to expand personalized learning experiences at the middle school level. Dr. Gaines holds degrees from Southeast Missouri State University and earned his doctorate at St. Louis University. He is a member of numerous professional associations and served as the 2018-2019 President of AASA, The School Superintendents Association.

Charting a new path for strategic edtech planning

Dr. Randy Ziegenfuss, Superintendent of Salisbury Township School District in Pennsylvania, is an educational disruption designer. He is passionate about moving K-12 schools away from the dominant “school” paradigm and conversation to a learner-centered, learner-friendly design responsive to the context of the ever-changing, technology-rich world we live in. He strives to answer the question: What new leadership competencies does it take to truly transform our schools—to create a new form of education? You can read his blog and listen to his podcasts, Shift Your Paradigm and TL Talk Radio.

About the host

Ann McMullan is Project Director for CoSN’s Empowered Superintendents Initiative. Ann served as Executive Director, Educational Technology in the Klein Independent School District, near Houston, Texas until September 2013, when she and her family moved to Los Angeles, California. For 16 years Ann led the district team that provided professional development on technology and 21st century instructional strategies to 4,000 professional educators serving 50,000 students. Ann served as co-chair of Texas Education Technology Advisory Committee which developed the Texas Long Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020. Today, Ann is based in Los Angeles working as a public speaker, writer, and education consultant focused on leadership and planning to meet the needs of today’s students. Ann serves on the Project Tomorrow advisory council and is a leadership consultant with Executive Service Corps of Southern California, serving non-profit associations. Ann co-authored Life Lessons in Leadership, a guide for leaders ages eight to 88.

Join the community

Super-Connected is a free professional learning community on edWeb.net for school superintendents, district leadership, and aspiring district leaders.

This edWeb broadcast was co-hosted by CoSN, AASA, and edWeb.net and sponsored by ClassLink. The recording of the edWebinar can be viewed by anyone here.

About the Author:

Stacey Pusey is an education communications consultant and writer. She assists education organizations with content strategy and teaches writing at the college level. Stacey has worked in the preK-12 education world for 20 years, spending time on school management and working for education associations including the AAP PreK-12 Learning Group. Stacey is working with edWeb.net as a marketing communications advisor and writer.


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