It is hard to start working as a Technology Director without a clear view of what is intended to be achieved by the organization. For this reason, planning is a critical phase in the adoption of technology initiatives that affect not just the students and the teachers but also an entire community (wikibook Technology Planning: the educator's guide - Implementation plan and timeline, 2008). November, Staudt, Costello, and Lynne (1996)  contended that an effective technology plan is based on the shared vision of educators, parents, community members, and business leaders who have technological expertise. They also suggested that in order for a technology plan to be successful, it must promote meaningful learning and collaboration, provide for the needed professional development and support, and respond flexibly to change. According to Whitehead, Jensen, and Boschee (2003), most school administrators know that computers and advanced-information technologies are touching the lives of students at school and at home. They suggested the following important factors that must be addressed in a technology plan.
Factors to consider
Leadership and Planning
According to the OECD (2000) it is necessary to have coherent and comprehensive policies for planning and evaluation. They suggested to include the definition of clear objectives, the identification of priorities and strategies, the ability to envisage future scenarios, the design, implementation and evaluation of pilot projects. In addition, they recommended that planning must be rigorous but not inflexible, allowing refinement in the light of experience.
According to November, Staudt, Costello, and Lynne (1996), the first step in developing a technology plan is convening a 'planning committee' or team to review the school improvement plan already in place and research the district needs. They also suggested that an effective team enlists educators but also takes advantage of the expertise of community members and the input of parents and students. They proposed that the planning team becomes responsible for the development of an overall technology plan. Further, they concluded that the team members are responsible for developing a vision for the plan, determine the goals that must be met to reach it, and create steps to implement those goals.
Whitehead, Jensen, and Boschee (2003)  stated that planning addresses the who, what, when, where, why, and how aspects of the project. In addition, they assured that quality leadership must prevail at all times. Furthermore, they recommended technology coordinators to envision what the completed project will look like and what it will do for teaching and learning. This underlying mental picture is necessary to provide focus for the entire enterprise. Furthermore, they also advise administrators to consider the possibility of having to modify school practices or even upgrade regulations. This may even result in an adjustment of the school's philosophy and mission statements (wikibook Technology Planning: the educator's guide - Vision, 2008)  to align with the technology initiative being proposed. If necessary, the use of surveys allows administrators to probe stakeholder viewpoints. In addition, they emphasized that every person involved must know both sides of the issue. They suggested the use of research that both supports and counters the major assumptions on which the technology project is based. Furthermore, they advised administrators to consider how students and staff members would be affected by the technology changes and develop appropriate support structures like training, changes in classroom layout, inclusion into curricula, and revision of school programs.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2004), for public education to benefit from the rapidly evolving development of information and communication technology, leaders at every level - school, district and state - must not only supervise, but provide informed, creative and ultimately transformative leadership for systemic change. They recommend districts to invest in leadership development programs to develop a new generation of tech-savvy leaders at every level. Further, they suggested to retool administrator education programs to provide training in technology decision making and organizational change. They also recommended districts to develop partnerships between schools and higher education institutions, in addition to encouraging creative technology partnerships with the business community.
Community Awareness and Support
According to Whitehead, Jensen, & Boschee (2003), community support is necessary during the planning stages of a technology initiative. They contended that neither parents nor community members are likely to be idle bystanders when costly reforms are about to change the way significant portions of children's education are delivered. For this reason, they suggested the schools and districts to evaluate community willingness to fund such initiatives in schools. Further, they proposed to show community members how teachers will adopt technology in the classroom and how it would enhance student learning and achievement. They also advised the institutions to develop guidelines for presenting information to the public under the supervision of a public relations director.
According to the OECD (2000), social participation is essential for the successful development of ICT initiatives in education, the active involvement of the private sector and the local communities being critical. They also stated that much effort has to be expended in strategies that enable communities to take advantage of the new technologies, so that local populations become fully acquainted with their potential.
November, Staudt, Costello, and Lynne (1996)  suggested team members to generate a collective vision which supports meaningful engaged learning for all students.
Whitehead, Jensen, and Boschee (2003)  suggested that in any technology initiative, the needs of the students must be placed above any other factor being considered. It is very common to see cases in which administrators and committee members make decisions about technology that really don't acknowledge the needs of the people who will use it.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2004), there has been significant growth in organized online instruction (e-learning) and "virtual" schools, making it possible for students at all levels to receive high quality supplemental or full courses of instruction personalized to their needs. They also stated that traditional schools are turning to these services to expand opportunities and choices for students and professional development for teachers.
Teaching and Learning
According to Whitehead, Jensen, and Boschee (2003), teaching and learning must be considered simultaneously when deciding how technology will be brought into the classroom. They suggested to have a 'purpose' that reflects teaching and learning when bringing technologies into the school. In addition, they recommended to evaluate hardware purchases and coordinate them to student needs. Hence, features like user-friendliness, dependability and speed need to be taken into account. With respect to software, they advise technology coordinators to carefully determine which programs will best complement, support, and expand classroom teaching and learning. It is important to flatten the learning curve by using user-friendly applications to help ensure that programs will be used by teachers and students. With respect to the teachers, they recommended that dialogues need to be established to evaluate classroom space and decide on computer locations. In addition, they requested technology coordinators to determine the amount of use teachers make of the new technology.
November, Staudt, Costello, and Lynne (1996)  recommended the technology planning team to encourage teachers to seek opportunities to work in teams in order to design technology-supported projects. They also suggested the team to develop objectives that describe appropriate technology goals for students at each grade level. They contended that instead of emphasizing higher order thinking skills, complex problem solving, and cognitive research, sometimes the technology may be used to teach merely the same old curriculum. They believe that using technology effectively in education requires shifting the focus from teaching to active learning. Further, they suggested teachers to develop proficiency in technology through not only in-service professional development activities but also through collegial support.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2004), a perennial problem for schools, teachers and students is that textbooks are increasingly expensive, quickly outdated and physically cumbersome. They suggested that a move from reliance on textbooks to the use of multimedia or online information (digital content) offers many advantages, including cost savings, increased efficiency, improved accessibility, and enhancing learning opportunities in a format that engages today's web-savvy students. For this reason, they encouraged ubiquitous access to computers and connectivity for school children. They also requested to consider the cost and benefits of online content, aligned with rigorous state academic standards, as part of a systemic approach to creating resources for students to customize learning to their individual needs.
Whitehead, Jensen, & Boschee (2003)  considered staff development to be one of the most important aspects of the initiative. In order to succeed in staff development efforts, they also suggested administrators to formulate detailed plans for staff development and implementation which should be developed well in advance of the actual implementation of technology in the classrooms. They recommended the appointment of the person in charge of leading staff development programs as well as evaluating each stage of the implementation based on a detailed working schedule. They emphasized the importance of pertinent staff development activities as well as in-house technical consultants who would help teachers promptly.
November, Staudt, Costello, and Lynne (1996)  suggested that staff development activities should help teachers become comfortable and proficient with the technology and give them the opportunity to devise ways to use it in their classrooms. They also contended that the uniqueness of each teacher and class must be acknowledged and used to build specific teaching strategies to meet the goals outlined in the technology plan.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2004), every teacher should have the opportunity to take online learning courses. In addition, they suggested that institutions ought to ensure that every teacher knows how to use data to personalize instruction. This is marked by the ability to interpret data to understand student progress and challenges, drive daily decisions and design instructional interventions to customize instruction for every student's unique needs.
It is important to understand that most determinations about finance are generally dealt by the people in top management positions. Nonetheless, the impact of these decisions are critical to the success of the project. Whitehead, Jensen, & Boschee (2003)  contended that it was important to determine the financial resources for in-house projects and equipment. They also suggested to itemize equipment resources owned by the school or district with the idea of reducing unnecessary duplication in new purchases. Further, they recommended the institution to appoint someone who will be responsible for handling the recommended purchases locally or from a national distribution company. They suggested that a thorough review of all costs needs to be made to ensure the technology project is affordable in all of its phases. Finally, they suggested the canvassing of civic organizations for financial or equipment support.
According to November, Staudt, Costello, and Lynne (1996), technology is changing so quickly that it is impossible to know what advances will be available in five years. They proposed that plans ought to be reviewed each year during the budget process to make sure the district is purchasing the most current equipment or to take advantage of new and lower cost technology. They also proposed the development of strategies to meet the funding challenge which also included the investigation of federal, state, and other grant opportunities and funding sources for educational technology.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2004), educational institutions ought to consider a systemic restructuring of budgets to realize efficiencies, cost savings and reallocation. This can include reallocations in expenditures on textbooks, instructional supplies, space and computer labs. In addition, they recommended to consider leasing with 3-5 year refresh cycles. Finally, they proposed the creation of a technology innovation fund to carry funds over yearly budget cycles.
Whitehead, Jensen, & Boschee (2003)  related infrastructure to the basic facilities and the mechanical and electrical installations found in a school. They contended that it is important to decide how existing equipment and infrastructure can be integrated into the project. They suggested that network wiring needs to accommodate the instructional configuration required by teachers. Further, they recommend getting assistance from professionals to handle remodeling or other infrastructure necessities. People with greater experience can provide a better insight on the space and remodeling required to ready the infrastructure for implementation. Finally, they suggested technology coordinators to visit other schools to evaluate successful programs for structural adaptations that could be taken into account using unique ideas to solve local problems.
According to OECD (2000), it is essential to have a sound and adequate telecommunication and computer network infrastructure that can support and deliver diverse educational models.
Evaluation and Assessment
Whitehead, Jensen, & Boschee (2003)  concluded that the work of leaders is not done when computers or other learning technologies are networked in schools and classrooms. Contrary to what is a common belief, they contended that a very important part of the work remains in the form of program evaluation and assessment. For this reason, they recommended the appointment of someone who would evaluate the overall project following a plan with dates. In addition, they suggested that an outline be presented of how changes or revisions will be handled. In order to succeed, they advised reviewers to use the most appropriate evaluation and assessment methods available for sharing information with the community. According to November, Staudt, Costello, and Lynne (1996), educators, parents, and community members are more likely to support technology if they are able to see proof of its value in helping students learn. They also contended that it is important to review and update the technology plan at least once a year to provide evaluation of its usefulness.
According to the U.S. Department of Education (2004), integrated, interoperable data systems are the key to better allocation of resources, greater management efficiency, and online and technology-based assessments of student performance that empower educators to transform teaching and personalize instruction. They also recommended the use of data from both administrative and instructional systems to understand relationships between decisions, allocation of resources and student achievement. Finally, they suggested to use assessment results to inform and differentiate instruction for every child.
- wikibook Technology planning: the educator's guide - Implementation plan and timeline. Retrieved June 24, 2009, from http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Technology_Planning/Plan
- November, A., Staudt, C., Costello, M., & Lynne, H. (1996). Critical issue: Developing a school or district technology plan. Retrieved September 14, 2008, from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te300.htm.
- Whitehead, B., Jensen, D. & Boschee, F. (2003). Planning for Technology: A guide for school administrators, technology coordinators, and curriculum leaders. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Organization for economic co-operation and development. (2000). Learning to bridge the digital divide. OECD.
- wikibook Technology planning: the educator's guide - Vision. Retrieved June 24, 2009, from http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Technology_Planning/Vision
- U.S. Department of Education. (2004). Toward a new golden age in American education. Retrieved June 21, 2009, from http://www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/os/technology/plan/2004/plan.pdf.