Technology Use Planning – what is it? In the simplest form, it is a plan for using technology, whether that be at your work, at a school, or even as part of your hobbies. There are so many options for using technology today that in order to use technology in an efficient and effective way, you have to do some planning.
The U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology, has published a guide for helping schools develop a technology use plan. In this guide, titled Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology, you will learn about things a school and/or teacher should consider when implementing technology.
The paragraphs that follow discuss technology planning and illustrate a practical application.
What’s So Important About Planning?
|As pointed out in the Transforming American Educationguide,
As the application to the right will illustrate, there are many things to consider before you even start to make a plan. The biggest question for consideration is what do you want technology to do?
|When I bought my first computer, back in the 80s, I sought advice from a friend who knew everything about Macs.I knew I wanted a Mac because that’s the computer I had the most experience with. I asked my friend which Mac I should buy, how much memory I needed, and tons of other questions. Instead of just telling me to buy a specific model, he asked, “Are you sure you want a Mac?”
Well, of course I was sure. I didn’t know how to use a PC.
“What do you plan to do with your computer?” My first thought was, well…use it. I just knew I wanted a computer. I had used one at work and loved playing with it. I wasn’t yet aware of all of the things I could do with a computer.
My friend was guiding me to develop a technology use plan, even if on a very informal level.
|The Department of Education can help you consider the many ways you can utilize technology in your school. The Transforming American Educationdocument steps you through six broad areas—learning, assessment, teaching, infrastructure, productivity, research and development.As you browse each section of the document, you’ll find information to help you refine your plan. For example, suppose you are interested in using technology to help with assessment. You may choose to set the following goal as recommended in the guide.
To meet this goal, you will need to consider what you want to assess, what information you expect to receive from the assessment, if you want adaptive assessment, how assessment results will be utilized to effect improvement, etc.
|When my friend realized I couldn’t answer his question regarding what I wanted to do with my computer, he broke it down for me with examples.“Do you like playing games? Will you be creating art? Do you expect to use your computer as a substitute for a typewriter? Do you get online much?”
As he reminded me of the different ways I could use a computer, I got a better idea of how I could benefit from having a computer beyond using it as if it were a toy.
|In an article written for The Computing Teacher, John See recommended that technology use plans should be created for the short term and should have a greater focus on applications. I agree with his suggestion because of the rapid pace at which technology changes. For budgetary reasons, schools may have to justify an expensive hardware purchase with a use plan across five years or more.If you have to make this type of justification, you may decide to include additional funds for new applications. Technology is only as effective as the software it runs. New applications are developed every day, and you may find, three years into your plan, that a new application completely addresses the needs of your students. You will need the flexibility to adjust your plan to accommodate this new application.||As my friend made clear, there were many things I could do with my computer. In order to do these things, I had to have the right applications. And, back in the 80s, applications for Macs were powerful, but limited to more creative pursuits. For example, if I really intended my computer primarily as a toy, I’d have to get a PC because there weren’t many games available for the Mac.Since the applications I wanted to use to further my career were Mac applications, I did go with a Mac. Looking back now, I would have been sorry had I chosen a PC. In my line of work, Macs were used almost exclusively at that time. Had I attempted to plan several years ahead, I may have chosen to go with a PC. The world seemed to be heading in that direction, so it may have appeared to be a wiser investment. I am glad I chose what I needed at the moment.|
Educational advisers, the media, parents, and anyone who has an opinion will tell you that technology is the answer to every educational dilemma with have today. They say we are not properly preparing our students for the future because we make them “shut down” from technology.
Since the introduction of iPads, tablet computers, and apps, I have noticed schools and teachers succumbing to public pressure and scrambling to buy up technology. What I see most often is purchases being made without a plan, just as I wanted to do with my first computer. Because apps are inexpensive, and sometimes free, it is even easier to fall into the trap of buy/accumulate first. Figure it out later.
Schools and teachers who buy first usually find they bought the wrong thing or what they bought did not do what they expected it to do. Because they have used their technology funding, they then have to figure out how to make the best use of what they have. Instead of having the best tool for the job, they make the best use of the tool, even if that means hammering a nail with the handle of a screwdriver.
Schools and teachers who take time to make a plan first can partially safeguard themselves from ineffective use of technology. I say “partially” because it depends on the level of planning, how closely one scrutinizes applications and devices, if professional development is carefully planned, and, a variable no one can plan for, how much technology changes in the coming years.
Even though planning cannot safeguard you from every problem, you are more likely to get the most educational benefit from technology purchased based on a plan. With a clear picture of your expectations in mind, you can guide your staff and/or students to use technology to its greatest benefit.
Al-Weshail, A. S., Baxter, A., Cherry, W., Hill, E. W., Jones, II, C. R., Love, L. T., . . . Montgomery, F. H. (1996, May 7). Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan: Version 2.0. Mississippi State University. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf
U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010). Transforming American education: Learning powered by technology. Retrieved from http://www.ed.gov/technology/netp-2010
See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
5.4 Long-Range Planning — By utilizing guides, such as the National Education Technology Plan 2010, educators can identify their needs and make the best use of the technology they current have while also make plans for future use. It is only when one can clearly identify expectations is one ready to make effective use of technology.
- Questioning the Mania for Technology in Classrooms (educationclearinghouse.wordpress.com)
- Smartphones and handheld computers: the new battleground in UK schools (guardian.co.uk)
- Guest Post: How Teachers Are Incorporating iPads Into The Classroom (angelamaiers.com)