Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Technology Plans: A Parallel Conversation?

In reviewing a technology plan recently, two things stuck out:

1. A great deal of work goes into creating a technology plan.
2. The benchmarks were really interesting.

The benchmarks listed teacher adoption rates by application, percentage, and time frame.

For example, one of the goals in the plan was:

80% of teachers by 2008-09 will integrate multimedia projects into lessons.
I like standards and goals since I think they give us a framework and something to strive towards. They, in a sense, give us a vision. And I realize we need to satisfy requirements through writing goals into technology plans. Ultimately, technology plans can be powerful, amazing tools especially when created by all school stakeholders.

As I mentioned, a great deal of time and work goes into creating these goals but I have to ask in the context of this specific plan:
  • Is there a plan to connect multimedia to curriculum and student learning?
  • Should the focus be on student learning rather than teacher utilization?
  • Are there plans for teacher learning networks (personal and professional)?
  • Are these goals part of the school's vision?
  • Do these goals mesh with the school's culture?
  • Is there a link to 21st century skills?
  • Are these goals collectively developed?
  • Is there a plan/conversation about teacher technology adoption?
  • Should our goals be learner (student focused)? An example: 80% of students will engage in projects where multimedia is used a tool for better content understanding.
I'll return to a theme that I've discussed before: parallel conversations. Sometimes, I think good things get lost through parallel conversations especially thinking technology is a separate entity from everything else. Sometimes, I think this "parallel-ness" gives rise to technology being someone else's problem. And inadvertently, I think teacher technology adoption is adversely affected. Teachers don't see a culture of merging technology with learning, teaching, and students.

Should we be thinking about a Student Learning Plan of sorts that is a combination of a technology plan, instruction plan, and improvement plan? Technology can be planned, discussed, and prioritized but it would be in the context of student learning - the focus of our schools. There could be even a section dedicated to the technical details but connecting the technology to the overall culture, mission, and vision of the school can only help ensure the common ground between learning and instruction is forged.