During my career in the British Armed Forces I lived by certain creeds that spoke of hard work and loyalty. Intricate planning was a necessary part of day-to day operations and this was instilled in us as new recruits. Our slogan read “fail to prepare, prepare to fail.” As I perused the many articles and conducted further research on Technology Use Planning (TUP), it reminded me of the importance of effective planning which incorporates both creating and maintaining a plan that focuses on specific goals and that lays out pitfalls in need of consideration. Planning for technology integration is no different, and successful TUP’s are those that respond to the present educational reforms which bring the U.S. into the 21st Century.
A Technology Use Plan “asses the technology needs and vision of a school or district…including an overall vision for the schools’ use of technology, outcomes for students and staff, a time line of events and anticipated outcomes, and a budget that will support the plan.” (Ivers, Pierson, 2003). While this definition seems to be straightforward, the reality is somewhat different.
The National Educational Technology Plan (2010), released by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology summarizes the present reforms within the education system. The 14 page document enumerates five goals and recommendations for school districts across the country which are:
These five categories breakdown the issue of successful integration into a complete plan that hopes to “create more compelling assignments that incorporate 21st century skills–critical thinking, problem solving and global participation skills.” (edutopia.org, 2011).
After reading the National plan, I can see how it can be beneficial for many school districts who may feel blind as they begin their journey to full technology integration. To me the report makes sense and gives me a positive outlook when considering the overall American education system. The report truly sells the importance of Technology and how it will impact not only how students will learn but what direction it will take their learning; however, I feel that there is no information provided as to how technology can and will be afforded. With national and state budget cuts to education, the report, I am sure, will be effective for some and ineffective for others.
While the NETP delivers a macro approach , John See (1992) a Technology Integration Specialist takes a micro approach in his published article. See immediately answers the question as to whether or not TUP should be short term or long term. I agree that they should be short term as See points out that “Technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to plan what type of technology will be available for use five years from now.” I wonder though, referring to the NETP, if the short term could deliver measurable data to asses if technology has actually had an affect within the public education system.
See, in his article, also states that:
“Effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology. In other words, make your technology plan output based, not input based. Develop a plan that specifies what you want your students, staff, and administration to be able to do with technology and let those outcomes determine the types and amount of technology you will need.” (See, 1992)
I agree with See. Society, all to often, spends without having a real purpose. Imagine if a school district decides to buy 30 laptops on a whim with no real purpose or having done little research as to the laptop capabilities then when it came time to using the laptops to create certain digital projects, how does the teacher truly know if the technology hardware and software is capable of delivering? Furthermore, why spend more money then you need to on technology that is way too advanced and will more then likely be unused. As I have mentioned before, budgets are tight and spending needlessly on the newest and greatest technology is foolish. By surveying the needs of the school, seeing what capacity students, staff and administrators use now will determine what technology is needed in the future.
My experience with TUP is limited and is within the realm of Business rather then Education. In setting up an office, a small group met to agree upon the purchase of certain technological items, including a large office copier/scanner/fax/printer and a multi-line phone system. While I believe that the needs of the office were met, I also believe that the decision was swayed by cost and contract terms rather then the type of documents that were to be printed or even the ease and speed of use to my co-workers. The TUP focused a short term goal that ensured the technology was available, there was on-site tech support and accessible monthly maintenance from the manufacturer. The small group also discussed the need for employee training using the phone system but due to lack of inexperience and growth of the company this concept fell to the wayside due to other issues that needed to be addressed.
Through the above experiences and the research conducted, Technology Use Plans are essential to the progression of integration. Without a plan, school districts would struggle in choosing the right tools that may not be sustainable and would fail in creating a technology rich learning environment which does not mirror the present reform in education.
Edutopia.com (2011). The department of education’s Karen Cator answers your questions about the national education plan. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/karen-cator-doe-video-answers-questions-national-education-technology-plan
Ivers, K. S., & Pierson, M. (2003). A teacher’s guide to using technology in the classroom. Libraries Unlimited.
See, J. 1992. Developing effective technology plans. National Center for Technology Planning. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm.
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National Educational Technology Plan, 2010: Executive Summary. retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/NETP-2010-exec-summary.pdf