Technology Use Planning Overview

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

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At the present time, I understand technology use planning in educational organizations to be the effort of:

  1. Coming to a holistic understanding an educational organization’s current situation through analysis of curriculum, pedagogy, existing support communities/networks, individual and group philosophies, declared outcomes for staff development, student achievement, and organizational success, and present technology use (see Anderson, 1999; See, 1992).
  2. Defining or refining as an entire organization the goals and objectives, or outcomes, of the organization (if found lacking in step one) (see See, 1992).
  3. Involving all interested stakeholders in the process of identifying specific needs that technology can fill (i.e., increasing awareness [See, 1992]) (“Guidebook …”, 1996, p. 8).
  4. Determining which types of technology are necessary for that effort—old/existing hardware vs. new systems, computer vs. other forms of technology, organization-owned equipment vs. student-owned devices, etc. (“The Cascade Concept,” n.d.; “The Pyramid Principle,” n.d.; see also See, 1992).
  5. Planning for and carrying out staff training on specific technology applications available for existing curricula (going beyond awareness) (See, 1992).
  6. Planning for and carrying out ongoing training on technology integration (See, 1992).
  7. Designing a dynamic, long-term process for and working toward an organizational culture of refinement as it relates to technology use by individuals and departments (Anderson, 1999; See, 1992).

I further understand technology use planning, for most organizations, to be a generally short-term endeavor tied to longer-term budget and staff development goals (See, 1992).

Effective technology use planning provides educational technologists, teachers, and the organizations that hire them a roadmap for the development, use, and refinement of technology resources within existing subject matter (See, 1992). It further provides individuals in these organizations with opportunities to engage in a cooperative endeavor to discuss and create a technologically-enhanced environment (Anderson, 1999). I believe that effective technology use planning is beneficial to schools if it is principle-based and builds unity through a shared and commonly-created vision. Principles guide individual decision making when the general guidelines of a general plan fall short and a commonly-created vision strengthens organizations, unlocking the achievement potential of diversity within a framework of unity. Effective technology use plans also help individuals and organizations decide how to expend limited resources of time and money (See, 1992).

The National Educational Technology Plan (NETP, 2010) calls for educational organizations to provide engaging and empowering learning experiences in and out of school. It further calls for the integration of 21st century expertise and calls for technology-facilitated improvements in learning (NETP, 2010, p. 23). Technology use planning offers schools a vessel for defining these skills and laying a framework for this learning improvement. Through the incorporation of goal-oriented tasks and the layout of guidelines for continuous refinement, a technology use plan further allows schools to designate how technology will be leveraged in the assessment of performance and use of assessment data for improving performance (NETP, 2010, p. 37).

The NETP also calls for greater support for teachers in the form of connections to data, content, resources, expertise, and learning experiences that will not only help their teaching but provide them, as individuals, with development opportunities (NETP, 2010, p. 49-50). If a technology use plan is properly connected to staff development, if it enables teachers and administrators to work smarter, not harder, and targets sustainable funding sources (See, 1992), this objective of the NETP is more likely to be achieved.

The NETP further calls for the redesigning of processes and government agency structure as well as the re-thinking of counter-productive practices so schools can take advantage of the power of technology (NETP, 2010, p. 73). Effective technology use planning should be an integrative process that defines the place of technology within each subject area and not as a stand-alone subject. If the changes to process, structure, and practice are addressed in the plan, it will be a valuable resource in helping schools align with the NETP.

In John See’s 1992 paper titled, The Computer Teacher, he proposes that technology use plans be short-term in nature rather than long-term. I have a favorable view of this perspective for the following reasons:

  1. Technology rapidly improves and newer technologies/solutions readily emerge, sometimes within a single academic year.
  2. As teachers use technology and reach the point of refinement (See, 1992), their desires, skills, and plans for future technology use are likely to change and evolve. This has been my personal experience.
  3. Budget situations are volatile in today’s economy, requiring all facets of an educational organization to be flexible. Technology use planning cannot ignore this and be successful.

There are, however, some aspects of tech use planning that I feel should be long or longer-term in nature:

  1. The vision of the plan in the context of the organization’s vision of outcomes, if those outcomes are also long-term (See, 1992).
  2. The inclusion of the plan in the daily operation costs of the organization (i.e., short-term details, but long-term funding) (See, 1992).
  3. The retention of older or outdated technologies for employ in a pyramidal or cascading setup in classrooms (“The Cascade Concept,” n.d.; “The Pyramid Principle,” n.d.).
  4. The alignment of the plan with the aims of a 21st century approach to education (NETP, 2010, p. 4-7).
  5. The alignment of the plan with the purposes and goals of existing online communities and networks endorsed by the organization.
  6. The ongoing effort to integrate technology into existing pedagogy (NETP, 2010, p. 68-69). Specifically, I feel there needs to be an open-ended mindset among teachers and administrators about the future availability and ever-increasing potential of technology.
  7. The employ and training of a facility-level technology support person(s) (See, 1992).

In his paper, See also states that effective technology plans should focus on applications and not on technology. I agree whole-heartedly with this statement and I believe, in fact, that this is the problem with the current technology use plan presented by the State Superintendent of Public Schools in Idaho. The plan is calling for a specific input—having a computer in the hands of every student—and not for prior research on desired output. If the work was carried out to define what Idaho educators and their students want to accomplish in the 21st century, increased technology use would, in my opinion, be naturally supported in greater measure by educators, students, and the public in general. I’ve maintained ever since researching Superintendent Luna’s plan that the cart has been put in front of the horse. I feel that See’s statement about applications coming before technology is merely another—albeit more eloquent—expression of this idea.

My experience with technology use planning is very limited at this point in my life, at least professionally. My wife and I have home-schooled our children in the past and “somewhat” considered the role of technology in that process, but our efforts fall short of constituting effective technology use planning, even for an organization and informal as small as a family.

In my professional work, as a teacher in Seminaries and Institutes of Religion, I am not involved in our organization’s technology use planning and have very little say over what technologies can and cannot be used in my classroom. I have no funding appropriated for purchasing technology resources other than small USB peripherals (such as backup hard drives) and ink/paper for our facility’s copy machine. In general, employees of our organization are also not allowed to use any form of technology for communicating with students, whether personally through email or texting or in the exchange of coursework.

Having said this, I believe that technology use in our organization is an ongoing discussion among those who are authorized to make decisions on the matter, but I am completely unaware at this point of the nature of their discussions, their vision, or the existence of a plan, if any. Our organization is set up globally, so those of us who are located in the “field” are largely disconnected from those who make the decisions. The opportunity to join in the discussion comes by invitation.

In conclusion, I hope that my graduate training in the field of educational technology will open doors for me to join the technology use discussions at central-management levels and become an active participant in both planning-document creation as well as formulating calls for action. I believe that my organization would benefit greatly from a technology use plan, though I make no assumptions as to the existence or lack of a current plan. Personally, I would like to see more field personnel included in the discussion and effort to define how and when technology will be incorporated into our curriculum and individual learning environments, and perhaps with time we will get that opportunity.

Works Cited:

Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan. (1996). National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf.

National Education Technology Plan 2010.pdf. (2010). U.S. Dep. of Education. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf.

See, J. (1992). Developing Effective Technology Plans. National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm.

Anderson, L. (1999). Technology planning: It’s more than computers! National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/articles/tpmore.pdf.

The Cascade Concept. (n.d.). National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from http://www.ictpd.net/bj/publish/cascade.htm.

The Pyramid Principle. (n.d.). National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from http://www.ictpd.net/bj/publish/pyramid.htm.

Works Consulted:

Jones, B. (1990). Pencils Across the Curriculum. National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from http://www.ictpd.net/bj/publish/pencils.htm.

The Monkey on Your Shoulder. (n.d.). National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved July 25, 2011, from http://www.ictpd.net/bj/publish/monkey.htm.

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