WHAT IS TECHNOLOGY USE PLANNING?:
A simplistic viewpoint to describe Technology Use Planning is to look at what a school (or other organization) currently has for technology and envision where they would like to be in the future. (Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan, 1996)
There are several characteristics that help to make an effective Technology Use Plan. According to John See in his article “Developing Effective Technology Plans” in 1992, components that are necessary for an effective Tech Use Plan comprise of keeping plans short term, what outcomes the school wants to achieve, helps everyone work smarter not harder, manages instruction, has curriculum applications, defines technology beyond the idea of hardware, embeds technology within the curriculum, includes immediate and long-term staff development , discusses funding as part of the annual budget, takes into account on-site technical support, provides adequate hardware and software, is designed by the staff who will be implementing the plan, and focuses on a long-term vision. Whether or not all of these ideas hold true today would be a matter of opinion and/or the changes we have seen in technological advancement over the past 20 years.
A more recent document from the National Educational Technology Plan 2010 lists some current day qualities vital for a successful plan. The plan contains the ideas to provide quality access to technology, train a technologically proficient staff, use a technology rich curriculum, keep learning a student centered activity, continually evaluate the plan, and be sure to provide funding and leadership. Several of these ideas overlap with See’s ideas from 1992. Having a well developed Technology Use Plan in place will benefit education tremendously as described throughout this document.
SHORT TERM VERSUS LONG TERM PLANS:
Although See emphasizes short term plans for a successful Technology Use Plan, I believe long term goals also need to be taken into consideration. You have to spend a lot of money to continually support technology while keeping the long term in mind. This could prevent you from making immediate purchases that could have been spread out over time. Again, times have changed, and although everyone in a school may not have the exact same hardware or operating system, the networking of it still all works together as a whole. Sometimes it takes multiple years to slowly trade out older hardware or software to replace it with upgrades as now there are many more computers within a facility then there were in 1992.
My particular school district now has a technology levy to fund the districts technological needs. However, this required having the foresight of a long-term plan; how to fund hardware, software and employ a continual on-site tech support person year after year in every building. Without this levy, we would surely struggle. Therefore, thank you to all the voters who have supported renewing the levy every few years or so. It was even passed recently amongst difficult economic times.
However, what if one day our tech levy does not pass? What do other school district’s do that have trouble passing a levy? A long-term funding solution needs to be put in place in Washington State, otherwise, continuation of this type of process is creating an even larger digital inequality. The socioeconomic areas that can afford a levy will have better technology than those areas who cannot fund a levy.
APPLICATIONS VERSUS TECHNOLOGY:
In regards to John See’s idea that applications need to be focused on more than the technology itself, I do not completely agree. I believe both applications and technology should be considered, not one or the other. Without the technology how do you have any applications? Without applications of technology, why have any technology? These two ideas must remain intertwined.
NETP 2010 AS A RESOURCE FOR PLANNING:
The NETP 2010 or National Educational Technology Plan 2010 is an excellent resource when designing a Technology Use Plan. It explains in detail “a model of learning powered by technology, with goals and recommendations in five essential areas: learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure and productivity.” (NETP 2010) Technology is the crucial tool to help achieve the goals of the NETP 2010. The goals include increasing the percentage of our population that graduate from college (from about 41% to 60%) as well as the goal of having more high school graduates prepared to attend college.
The first essential area is about learning. It focusing on using technology to offer more personalized learning environments for students. The idea is to better understand the who, what, when, where and how behind learning. For example, do all students need to really achieve success in mathematics at the calculus level? Or do all students have to go to six classes every day? The document encourages schools to think outside of the traditional school model. Another important aspect of the learning piece is empowering the student. By offering alternative means of learning, technology will help to draw in more students who will want to learn because they enjoy using technology. NETP 2010 truly wants to see all students learning well and becoming lifelong learners.
Assessment was an additional essential area to concentrate on by applying technological improvements. This is a topic that is long overdue for a nation wide adjustment in what assessment should look like. While I do not agree with showing teachers even more statistics, I do believe there is a better way to analyze assessments with more detail. Details about specific topics and how each student or small group of students perform in each topics. With evens today’s technology we should be able to do this better. However, in Washington State we currently receive little to no feedback about how our individual students performed on the state math exams. A vague reference for a school wide group of students to improve in probability and statistics is little to no help for an individual teacher to improve their covering of content within their own classroom. The national test for AP Calculus does a bit better describing which topics need improvement, however, the reports are still not detailed enough and the technology is available to do so. Could my students find related rates, integrals, or derivatives? The average score for a very involved free response question does not help me know which part of the question students understood and within which portions of the question they needed more help.
The third essential area outlined involves teaching. By using more technology in the classroom, the NETP 2010 hopes to “empower [teachers] to create, manage, and assess engaging relevant learning experiences.” (NETP 2010) And to create students who are “learning both in and out of school.” (NETP 2010) In fact shouldn’t all educational plans, technology or otherwise, include these ideas?
A critical piece of the NETP 2010, incorporates infrastructure. This discusses the need for technology equipment and internet access to be readily available to all teachers and students. A technology use plan would be wise to consider this piece first and foremost. Because without the actual equipment, many students are at a severe disadvantage and caught in a digital inequality. Personally, I know I have students without computers at home and/or internet access, therefore I am limited in what I can assign in terms of technology outside of school. And the school library closes shortly after school is dismissed. So how can a student be expected to do a lot of work on the computer outside of the school day when they have just over one hour of free access. Until the issue of a digital divide is addressed, we will be slow to reach a goal of 60% of students obtaining post high school degrees.
The final essential element discusses productivity. This idea encourages the use of technology “to rethink basic assumptions and redesign our education system.” (NETP 2010) It goes on to state that one assumption to reconsider is “seat time as a measure of educational attainment.” (NETP 2010) It was developed in the late 1800’s… Another assumption to reconsider is “organizing students in age-determined groups.” (NETP 2010) Already this is done in the area of mathematics, but has developed a negative title of tracking. It also discusses utilizing “more flexible scheduling that fits students’ individual needs rather than traditional academic periods.” (NETP 2010)
The National Education Technology Plan 2010, does an excellent job of addressing why we don’t have a higher percentage of students ready for college and obtaining college degrees. The same technique of teaching in high schools (and colleges as well) via a stand and deliver approach within a traditional six period day may be getting the nation 41% of the population to a college degree, but it is also holding us back from doing better. Technology can be the way to engage more student interest, keep them interested and encourage them to seek more information…watching students with their cell phones and iPhones during the school day should be a powerful indicator of what it takes to gain the attention of a student, technology.
MY EXPERIENCE WITH TECH USE PLANS:
My math dept restructured the math storage closet into a computer lab. To accomplish this, we convinced the principal to help by funding the reconstruction of the room. Then the math department consolidated the small numbers of computers from each math classroom into the one lab. Now instead of just having a few computers in each classroom and only a few students able to work on them, a full class could go to the lab and all students could actually participate. It also helped the entire school by providing another lab that all subjects could utilize.
Part of an extension of this new computer lab was that I wrote a grant with a co-worker and received $7000 from our local schools foundation. The money was used to fund the fee for the on-line class that students would be using. The course was a math lab where students could work on math independently based on individual needs. Most students were enrolled to support their own remedial needs. However there were students that self selected the course to work independently and get ahead of their current math level. The classroom was very heterogeneous as students could be enrolled in the same section but be working on anything from pre-algebra to pre-calculus. The classroom worked just as NETP 2010 describes: all students were working because you put that computer in front of them and they were more interested in being on task. And they didn’t have to follow what anyone else needed help with as they could solely focus on themselves and their own needs and questions.
In addition, just a few years ago, I was on the district’s math adoption committee to update curriculums for our Algebra, Geometry and Algebra 2 courses. Once we choice a curriculum, I helped to promote the idea of supplying classroom sets of TI-Nspires for every math teacher teaching the new curriculum. Thus, this also helped to break down the digital inequality in the classroom regarding those that have graphing calculators and those that do not.
Some good outcomes I have seen or experienced includes the school district’s tech levy as explained earlier. Also, I now enjoy the implementation of e-mail versus double digit numbers of pieces of paper in my teacher mailbox everyday. Currently, there is not a single piece of paper put into my mailbox for days. E-mail also made it possible to complete correspondence at any time of the day or night which helps everyone when there are busy schedules involved. It also easily creates a record of all teacher and parent correspondence. Then there was the establishment of the world wide web which was an amazing invention and opened up the availability of information exponentially. And also makes the world seem so much smaller and accessible.
However, I have also seen some outcomes that were not positive. These include purchasing technology but then it is not utilized. The technology or software is purchased but without professional development to train staff how to use it. Or training does occur but without immediate application therefore how to use it is quickly forgotten. And several of these issues involve a lack of time to immerse oneself into the learning of technology. High school teachers continue to be a 1 to 150 ratio which consumes most of one’s time dealing with what used to be paperwork is now a time consuming data entry job. The NETP 2010 mentions that we should rethink the basic assumption about how we still traditional structure schools and keeping a teacher to student ratio this unbalanced is a symptom of an ongoing problem. I have worked both full-time and part-time as a teacher. As a part-time teacher with fewer students (and a part-time paycheck) but still working full-time hours, I was more able to help students and be more creative about it. Nonetheless, it is frowned upon in our district and building to be a part-time employee. Administration has subtle ways of making part-time employees lives harder without breaking any rules. Whereas, the Department of Education may embrace the idea of lowering the number of students per teacher to free up the time to prepare better student centered class activities.
The following AECT Standards apply to this assignment: 1.2, 3.3, 3.4, all of standard 4, 5.1, 5.2 and 5.4.
Al-Weshail, A., Baxter, A., Cherry, W., Hill, E., Jones, C., Love, L., … Woods, J. (1996) Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan. Mississippi State University. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf
See, J., (1992) Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming american education learning powered by technology: National educational technology plan 2010 executive summary. (DOE Contract No. ED-04-CO-0040) Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010-execsumm.pdf.