ERIC Identifier: ED393448
Publication Date: 1996-04-00
Author: Anderson, Larry S.
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
K-12 Technology Planning at State, District, and Local Levels.
In the early 1990s, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), a
professional organization of state superintendents of education, released a
position paper (Improving, 1991) advocating that all states develop and maintain
written plans for integrating technology in the education curriculum. In the
ensuing years, with the added incentive provided by Goals 2000 legislation,
(Congress, 1993) many states have completed, or are currently working on
KEY PRINCIPLES OF TECHNOLOGY PLANNING
-- Include people in
the community. Planners need to involve all school and community "stakeholders" in the planning process. This is probably the most important advice one can
receive related to technology planning.
-- Establish timelines and monitor them often. Planning will be far more
successful if key participants work from a mutually-understood timeline. It is a
good idea to print the timeline and display it prominently. The timeline should
be addressed and monitored often. This will help keep planners on task and
ensure that goals are reached in a timely fashion.
-- Delegate responsibilities for planning. The chairperson of the planning
committee should make use of the particular expertise and talents of each
committee member when assigning responsibilities. It is important to compliment
committee members when they perform admirably.
-- Evaluate. Technology planning experts often say that there are three
things to remember when building and implementing a technology plan: "evaluate,
evaluate, evaluate." Planners will need to monitor all planning activities and
include an evaluation program that will help them track the success of their
A local or building level technology plan is
more specific than a district or a state plan. A local plan focuses on the
learner and the associated activities, principles, and materials required to
ensure that the desired instructional activities occur. Teachers and
administrators who develop local plans will need to pay strict attention to the
curriculum issues in the school. Technologies will support curriculum delivery
and learning activities. A local technology plan will need a vision statement, a
mission statement, and goals for how technology will be used in teaching and
School district technology plans provide
strategies for incorporating technological solutions in all local schools. A
district plan provides an overview of what local schools wish to accomplish.
District planners should remember to involve a cross-section of leaders from
various schools in the district in the planning process. The committee needs to
hold periodic "town meetings" to explain the plan, report progress, and explain
related activities. The district planning committee should seek and acquire
"buy-in" throughout the process from all members of the community.
The scope of planning is much broader at the district level than at the local
level. Curriculum concerns, for example, will span a greater breadth of subject
matter. Districts need to plan for great diversity as they consider the ages of
students, teaching delivery methods, and assessment techniques. Since there may
be local variance in some of the key elements that go into a district plan, it
is important that planners incorporate input from local schools in their
A district plan will include, and address in detail, elements that may not
appear in a local plan at all. For example, a district plan might include
district funding strategies, public relations tactics, and strategies for using
technology in administration, transportation, food service, guidance, and
student services. Most importantly, the district needs to outline how it will
provide leadership and guidance for those who will implement and benefit from
Just as a district technology plan is more
general and less specific than a local plan, so a state plan is more general and
less specific than a district plan. While some parts of a state plan will have
elements that are specific, their specificity will deal with principles that are
general in nature. A state-level plan addresses many issues mentioned in school
district plans, and may provide a compilation of concerns and desires
illuminated by the district plans. A state may want to describe how its
financial support for districts will enable schools to integrate technologies
into instruction and administration. A state may also want to describe the
process by which districts will be accountable to the state for the funds given
While local, district, and state plans
are significantly different in certain areas, several similarities exist.
Planners use the term "dovetail" to describe the manner in which these plans fit
with each other.
State-level planners need to decide whether they will adopt a top down or
bottom-up scheme. If a top-down approach is taken, the state will fashion a
plan, then ask districts to follow the state's guidelines. In some cases, where
the state uses a top-down technique, the district may employ a bottom-up method.
For example, the district might craft its vision statement only after it has
compiled vision statements from all schools within the district.
A state plan will, most likely, define a framework into which district plans
should fit. Often, statewide technology coordinators will develop a handbook
that district planners will use as a guide for building the district plan. In
this way, the district plan will "fit," or dovetail into the state plan. The
district, then, will use input from local plans to dovetail into the district
REALITIES OF PLANNING
-- Financial. A technology plan needs
to address the amount of money that will be required to implement and maintain
whatever the plan proposes, how matching money, if necessary, will be sought,
how leveraged money might be needed in the future, how finances will be managed,
what the contingency plans might be if additional funding is secured or if a
shortfall occurs, and how funds will be allocated to pay for planned
obsolescence. Planners need to remember that public funds are employed in the
infusion of technologies into instruction; therefore, strong accountability to
the community is necessary.
-- Technical. As state, district, and local groups consider and include the
technical components of their plans, they need to recognize the impact of rapid
technological change and growth. Plans need not focus on, but should certainly
include hardware and software. Inclusion of a detailed technical plan that
addresses technological obsolescence will help to plan for future equipment
-- Human capital. A technology plan needs to outline the ways in which human
talent will be incorporated. Many models show effective employment of human
capital, and planners need to examine existing technology plans that demonstrate
how this is done.
-- Architectural. When planners specify the design of structures or areas
where technology will be used, careful attention needs to be devoted to
eliminating any obstacles that will obstruct or hinder teaching and learning.
Consulting with an experienced architect is well worth the time and money.
-- Legal. At all levels of planning, legal concerns are important. Not only
do planners need to consider protection for the "system," but strategies need to
be outlined for the protection of students and other learners. Consult with
community resources for legal advice.
Although technology planning occurs at multiple "levels," many principles are identical. Planners need to engage the services,
creativity, and assistance of all stakeholders. Efforts of all participants in
the planning process need to be marshaled to meet established timelines, to
accept delegated responsibilities, and to evaluate progress along the way.
Planners at the local, district, and state levels are encouraged to share the
work they create. Through open, willing sharing, all learners will benefit.
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