School Evaluation

Originally posted on July 25, 2011 on nashru.wordpress.com for EDTECH 501 – Introduction to Educational Technology.

July 25, 2011 – Here is my Technology Maturity Benchmarks report. Click on the image or link below to download as a PDF.

Image by Everaldo Coehlo, LGPL 2.1

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Image by Everaldo CoehloLGPL 2.1

We have been recently asked in EDTECH 501 to evaluate the technology environment of the school we work with using  Technology Maturity Benchmarks. Before completing this process, I anticipated that my school would rank relatively low, but to my surprise it ranked high, with 20 of the 38 benchmarks coming in at Intelligent. Furthermore, over half of the non-Intelligent ratings were Emergent, and this merits some attention to a few details. I’ve outlined those details in the paragraphs below.

First, the manner in which I evaluated my school is critical to understanding the outcome of the benchmarks survey. Imagine a public school whose “district” is a global organization with a single curriculum, privately-mandated standards, and private funding. Imagine further that this “district” is attached to an even larger, global organization from whom it receives not only guidance, but its commission and very existence. This would be something like the situation my school is in.

My particular school, or facility, notably lacks technological autonomy, but at the same time, it has the backing of a technologically-rich parent organization. As I said earlier, the manner in which I evaluated my school is critical to the outcome of the survey. I am unable to evaluate the parent organization as if it were my school (because I don’t know the all of the inner workings of that organization), so I evaluated my school in the context of the work of the parent organization. In other words, I essentially diluted the evaluation over two organizational environments since the relationship between the two is critical to understanding the technology environment at my facility. Introducing two organizations, in this case, gave polarized survey results: many Emergent ratings and many Intelligent ratings. In fact, the results were 10-4-4-20 (Emergent-Island-Integrated-Intelligent).

The Intelligent ratings came primarily because of the parent organization and my status as a lone teacher in my facility (and one who likes to use technology, at that). The Emergent ratings came about primarily because of restrictions on autonomous technology use by my facility. I would be curious to learn more about the inner-workings of the parent organization and repeat this evaluation exclusively for that environment.

Regarding the AECT standards, this project is listed in our course syllabus under standards 4.1, 5.1, 5.3, and 5.4. I have a few thoughts to share regarding each:

Standard 4.1 – Project Management. The management of a project is blind without a pulse. The pulse is an assessment of where the organization or project currently stands. I like how thorough the benchmarks are, even though they are obviously catered to the public schools.

Standard 5.1 – Problem Analysis. The benchmarks provide a much more detailed analysis of problems than I would have ever come up with on my own. Interpreting the data is something I need to improve on.

Standard 5.3 – Formative and Summative Evaluation. I still have to look up the definition of these two words at this point in my education. The difference, as I currently understand it, is that information gathered on adequacy is used to guide development in formative evaluations while summative evaluations use the information to determine how to put something that is already developed to work. In my organization there is much that is already developed, and I can see those aspects more clearly with these benchmarks. I could now, if I had any authority, turn my attention to the utilization of those developed elements. Likewise, there are other elements identified by these benchmarks as being in need of further development, or being Emergent (or Islands/Integrated). Project committees could now take up a specific discussion about each need.

Standard 5.4 – Long-Range Planning. The thorough nature of the benchmarks makes the strategic planning process possible. Again, its much easier to know what to do when you have a pulse. Combine this with the formative and summative evaluations that can be derived from the benchmarks, and viola, you have five years worth of work.

Author update: Feb. 1, 2014 – The Emerald School referred to in this report is the Kimberly Idaho Seminary operated by Seminaries and Institutes of Religion. I called this the Emerald School at the time of this report because I was uncomfortable with publishing on the web a review of internal administration processes. I felt that it might be a violation of employment disclosure agreements.

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