Rolling out a new technology plan is exciting! This plan will drive your campus technology initiatives, the edtech purchases at your campus, and much of the professional development for your teachers. But creating a school technology plan can be daunting, so you definitely need a good strategy.
This six-step process will see you through designing, purchasing, and implementing technology that will augment instruction.
Questions to ask yourself before creating a school technology plan
1. Should I put together a committee?
To gather diverse ideas, put together a strategic planning committee. You’re not delegating the work — you’re collecting different perspectives that will help guide your campus through this transitional phase.
Effective committees include representatives from the faculty, parents, and students. They should also include a central administrative staff representative; their insight will be invaluable when it comes to long-term planning, especially for aligning with districtwide goals and initiatives. Look for diversity in membership so you can address concerns from multiple viewpoints.
School administrators tend to select the most tech-savvy individuals for their committees. Instead, include a few members who may be hesitant about incorporating edtech. They often become your strongest allies and most ardent advocates.
To appoint your committee, answer these questions:
- Who is most tech-savvy on my campus?
- Which campus members and students hesitate to embrace technology?
- Who are the teacher leaders at my school?
Honor and validate the opinions of the members who volunteer their time to assist with creating a schoolwide technology plan.
2. What goals should I set?
Introduce the committee members to each other and establish the purpose of the schoolwide technology plan. Ask your team to envision what full technology integration would look like, especially if there were no restraints or barriers to success. Take the committee through a visioning exercise while you ask them to imagine a technology-integrated classroom. What are the students and teachers doing? What about the parents? Identify the goals that will make the vision happen.
To establish schoolwide goals, answer these questions:
- What are you hoping technology will do for your classrooms and your school?
- How will any new technology augment curriculum and instruction?
- How will technology help you achieve student-centered goals?
Anytime you make a technology decision, always refer to the goals in this step. They are the guiding light for every decision regarding your schoolwide technology integration.
3. What are my existing resources?
Before you plan for what you need, be sure to inventory the resources you already have.
Outdated technology may be preventing the students at your school from achieving their academic potential. Learners who can’t access the internet because of low bandwidth lose interest in assignments.
Are your students still using computers in an isolated technology lab? What about those two huge desktop computers in the back of each room? Rethink what kind of hardware best suits the needs of today’s learners.
When identifying your resources, answer these questions:
- Is a robust Wi-Fi network already in place? Is it secure?
- Will it be 5G ready, or will something less ambitious suffice for now?
- How old is your current hardware, and what do students need in their classrooms?
Whether you’re building from the ground up or upgrading your current technology, begin with the network. Once your schoolwide Wi-Fi is ready, add in hardware and software.
4. How do I formalize the budget?
Schools benefit from matching gifts, grants, crowdfunding, and plenty of volunteer hours. Wouldn’t it be great if your school had an angel investor, too? Unfortunately, many schools have to rely solely on local, state, and federal resources to implement their technology plans. With funding already stretched to its limits, your budget will allow you to accomplish only so much each year.
The benefit of having a schoolwide technology plan is that you can plan to spread your purchases over several years.
To formalize your budget, answer these questions:
- Which technology items are priorities for each year of your plan?
- What money can you spend on infrastructure, and which funds allow you to buy hardware or software?
- What grants or other external sources are available to launch your school technology plan?
Having a technology plan in place positions you to apply quickly for competitive grants that can take the burden off your campus budget.
5. What’s next?
Think long term.
Purchasing a handheld device for every student at the school is a lofty goal, and it’s not always feasible to pull it off. By the time most schools purchase the needed hardware, the “latest” equipment is already due for replacement.
For that reason, some schools have made the switch to a BYOD policy. There’s always a trade-off when implementing a schoolwide initiative such as this. On one hand, you’ll save money on hardware if everyone brings their own device. But you may also find yourself investing in a more reliable Wi-Fi network to accommodate the increase in traffic.
IT personnel recommend that you purchase extended warranties on your equipment. Even under the best circumstances, accidents happen. Kids (and teachers!) spill things, drop equipment or shatter screens.
To plan for new resource acquisition, answer these questions:
- Which investments will the district make, and which will your school make?
- Which purchases (if any) could or should be passed on to parents?
- How would a BYOD initiative speed up access to technology in the classroom without disenfranchising anyone?
Anytime you bring in new hardware or software, you can expect an onboarding process for everyone involved, which includes the cost of professional development. Even if you choose to pursue BYOD for your school, you’ll need to consider how much time teachers will need to learn the new technology and become proficient in its use.
6. How can I monitor and evaluate performance?
Your new school technology plan is a living document. However, many schoolwide technology plans find their final resting places on a shelf. Even district technology plans aren’t set in stone. Your campus plan should be just as adaptable. Refine it as your students’ needs change.
To monitor and evaluate performance, answer these questions:
- What longitudinal student data indicates academic growth?
- How much (if any) downtime have your faculty or students experienced?
- What changes will benefit student learning?
Like any business investment, school technology integration should show a return on investment (ROI). Measure your ROI by levels of engagement and improved student achievement. Reconvene your committee to review progress at least quarterly and recommend changes.
Create an impeccable plan
Thoughtful planning can help you make wise technology decisions for your campus. Your students’ education depends on it.