Technology decisions in education can be complex and costly. Successful upgrades and smooth implementation depend on many factors – both human and technical. Planning for potential problems and opportunities is one way of avoiding inevitable pitfalls.
We asked leaders, David Blattner, Chief Technology Officer and Executive Director for Media and Virtual Learning at Iredell Statesville Schools in North Carolina, John Guyer, Executive Director of Technology at Summit Academy Management in Ohio, and George Rafferty, Superintendent of Schools in Tabernacle, NJ, to share their advice after recently working through tough technology decisions in their districts. These were their top 3 “lessons learned.”
- Be sure to engage your entire community, not just parents. Parents are not the only voters when it comes to school budgets. Increase your support and public understanding by including public input and using clear communication channels with all stakeholders.
- Let instructional goals drive the initiative. Before you start looking at technology choices, come to an understanding of what you want the outcomes to be in the classroom. Do you want to see more global activities? Individualized instruction? Cultivate high quality teachers? Increase the use of data? Make sure that what is agreed upon is clearly communicated to all stakeholders. Parents and community members need to understand what is happening and why when you want instruction to look different in the classroom.
- Plan for and provide appropriate support and training. Use surveys and other means to help differentiate instruction for teachers as you would for your students. Provide instructional coaches or facilitators that can answer questions, go into classrooms and provide just-in-time training for those that need it.
Avoiding pitfalls and staying focused on your education goals ensures a smooth implementation and a fiscally and educationally sound outcome. David Blattner said “using a process did not make the decision easier, it made the decision clearer” ensuring solid decisions and smooth implementation of their Race to the Top funds. The bottom line for each administrator was: it is worth putting the time in upfront to ensure that you are making the best decision possible to meet your instructional goals.