ERIC Identifier: ED457858
Publication Date: 2001-10-00
Author: Barnett, Harvey
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on
Information and Technology Syracuse NY.
Successful K-12 Technology Planning: Ten Essential Elements.
Over the last 20 years, K-12 schools have spent millions of dollars equipping
their schools with the latest technologies, but often without a thoughtful plan
of how their use would impact learning and teaching. Computers, like other
technologies when they were new--such as radio, television, motion pictures, and
video--were expected to substantially change education simply by making it more
exciting and interactive.
But technology use is not about the hardware, Internet connections, and so
on. What is important is how the technology is integrated with the instructional
program. The guiding question technology leaders must keep in mind as they
develop their plan is, "Are students using technology in ways that deepen their
understanding of academic content and advance their knowledge of the world
around them?" (When we use the word "technology," we refer to more than
computers. Technology includes the whole array of new technologies including,
video, digital cameras, handheld computers, cell phones, and other devices still
To ensure that technology dollars have an impact on students, staff, and the
community, districts and schools must develop a thoughtful technology plan.
Technology plans that help districts and schools to use technology effectively
include all of the ten steps that follow.
1. CREATE A VISION
Vision is the first step for technology planning. The district or school must
have a picture of what a technology-enhanced program will look like in three to
five years. Vision statements are compelling stories that describe how students
will be using the technology and how teachers and other staff will be using it
for data-driven decision making, increased productivity, and planning. A vision
also includes how the learning environment will be enhanced to support
2. INVOLVE ALL STAKEHOLDERS
For any plan to be effective, all stakeholders should have the opportunity to
have an input into the goals of the plan. Teachers, administrators, other
employees, parents, and the general community all have a stake in the
educational outcomes of students.
3. GATHER DATA
You must understand where you are in order to plan for the future, so gather
as much data as possible about your present use:
Conduct an inventory to determine what equipment and software you presently have
and where it is located (labs, classrooms, library/media centers, and so on).
Determine the present level of use in your classrooms. There are multiple ways
to collect this information. One is to survey staff and student use by asking
about both their skill levels and how teachers and students are using the
technology. Develop your own survey or adapt one developed by another district.
There are also several online assessments including, enGauge, available at
conditions critical to the effective use of technology for student learning.
Another resource is the Learning with Technology Profile Tool, available at
presents indicators of engaged learning and indicators of technology. For each
indicator there are three choices that educators can compare to their own
practice. When finished, educators can view the results in a graphical format to
help identify their strengths and weaknesses.
Gauge the progress your school is making to improve student achievement. The
Annenberg Foundation http://www.annenberginstitute.org/accountability/toolbox/)
has gathered together a set of Tools for Accountability to help. Each drawer
within the Toolbox offers descriptions, examples, and specific in-school
experiences to guide the many members of a school's community.
Conduct site visits. It may be desirable to visit schools that demonstrate
compelling reasons for using technology. This is particularly important if your
school uses computers mainly for word processing and drill and practice. If your
planning team has never seen student use of multimedia, digital video, or
student web pages, it will be difficult for them to envision these uses. Visits
can help to open one's mind to the possibilities.
4. REVIEW THE RESEARCH
Knowing what the research says about the use of technology is important to
guide your technology planning efforts. Research has found that some technology
use impacts student learning while others make no difference (Dwyer 1994; Butzin
2001). The research on technology's effectiveness is divided into two areas: (1)
learning with computers, using computers as tutors (most often drill and
practice) and (2) learning from computers, which is when the student uses the
computer as a tool in the learning process for communication, collaboration,
research, or publishing.
A summary of the research (Kulik 1994; Butzin 2001; Mann 1999) for both types
of use finds that technology can impact student learning when the following
conditions are evident:
Students have easy access to the technology.
Technology is in the classroom, where it can make a greater impact then when it
is in labs.
Ongoing teacher training is provided.
Reform of teaching practices is evident, with a balance between traditional
instruction, characterized by teacher lecture, and that of construction,
characterized by the teacher serving as a guide and facilitator.
The software is well matched with the teacher's assessment of student needs and
the objectives of instruction.
5. INTEGRATE TECHNOLOGY INTO THE CURRICULUM
As the research demonstrates, technology impacts student learning when there
is a match between content standards and the technology being used. Teachers
face six barriers to effectively integrating technology with their curriculum:
Leadership. The lack of leadership is the single biggest barrier to the use of
Access. One or two computers or a weekly visit to a computer lab do not impact
Time. It takes time for teachers to review software and figure out how it fits
with their instructional program.
Cost. Schools often provide only minimal funds to purchase software. Teachers
may not be willing to spend their own money to purchase multiple copies of
Training. Apple Classroom of Tomorrow (ACOT) research found that it takes
training for teachers to move from "How do I turn it on?" to where they
comfortably and routinely integrate technology into their classroom.
Reform. Technology makes its greatest impact when teachers use project-based
learning practices to engage students.
Student proficiency standards embedded with instructional projects can help
teachers to know which technology skills students need to demonstrate. The NETS
project offers one model (http://cnets.iste.org/index2.html).
6. COMMIT TO PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT
The plan must address the goals for professional development. Providing
appropriate training is the key to effective use. Research has demonstrated time
and again that an ongoing professional development program is required (Dwyer
1994; Ringstaff et al. 1991; Ringstaff 2001). The most effective staff
development programs deliver to teachers when they need it, at their school, and
on their own equipment. One-time "spray and pray" workshops do not result in any
change in teacher behavior. The ACOT research found that teachers' growth goes
through five stages: entry, adoption, adaptation, appropriation, and invention.
Even with a strong professional development program, less than 50 percent of
teachers reach level three.
The plan should also address the technology proficiencies that teachers will
be expected to demonstrate. The NETS Project, mentioned earlier, can also be a
source for teacher proficiency standards if your state or district doesn't have
7. ENSURE A SOUND INFRASTRUCTURE
For technology to impact student learning, the technology plan must ensure
that appropriate resources are in place to support and maintain networks and
equipment. Technical support is also essential so that all systems work 24/7.
Techno-phobic teachers will quickly give up on technology use when it doesn't
work after they have spent many hours learning about the software and planning
Setting single standards for software, hardware, networks, and video
equipment is crucial. Doing so will result in significant savings in staff
development and support costs, including repairs, and will make it easier to
upgrade and support district licenses. Technical support may be a nightmare
otherwise, because incompatible systems can't "talk" to each other.
8. ALLOCATE APPROPRIATE FUNDING AND BUDGET
The plan should be in line with your district or school's financial
resources. It should not promise more than the budget can deliver.
There are two parts to a technology budget. A recommended formula for the
first portion is as follows: 40% of every dollar allocated should be for
hardware, 20% for software, 20% for professional development, and 20% for
upgrades and additional needs as teachers' expertise grows. If you spend all of
the money on hardware, you will not see the return on student learning because
there will be no funds for professional development, upgrades, and so on. These
recommendations are not just for the first year, but for anytime you budget or
receive one-time grant dollars.
Budget separately for technical support expenses. Support must be available
24/7 so that teachers have confidence that the time they spend in reviewing
software and planning will not be lost when equipment and networks fail to work.
A thoughtful technology plan will not consider the purchase of more hardware
and networks then the district can support with its technical support capacity.
9. PLAN FOR ONGOING MONITORING AND ASSESSMENT
The plan must address ongoing monitoring and assessment. Plan to collect data
using rubrics, student artifacts, surveys and tests. Develop benchmarks and
timelines for all components of the plan. Some questions the plan should address
Is the technology being used effectively?
What elements are missing?
What needs to be added?
The plan should address how the results of this assessment will be
communicated to all stakeholders.
10. PREPARE FOR TOMORROW
While planning for today, keep an eye on tomorrow by allowing for new and
promising practices and technologies. Remember back ten years ago when "www"
didn't mean the World Wide Web, laptop computers were big and called "luggables"
by those who owned them, and when 48 k and a 24-baud modem were fast?
Would you have predicted back then the hardware, networks, and software you
Have in your schools now? Probably not. Ten years from now will computers even
Look like the computers we use now? How will Personal Digital Assistants (PDAs)
And other handhelds change the way we organize and learn? And, finally will we
All be totally wireless, able to communicate at anytime, anywhere?
In preparation for the future, set some funds aside to encourage teachers to
try new applications and determine what value, if any, these applications have
for your program before you purchase items only a techie could love.
Technology can improve teaching and learning when a school or district
develops a plan that incorporates these essential elements and provides
appropriate funding to make its vision a reality.
Butzin, Sarah M. (2001). Using instructional
technology in transformed learning environments: An evaluation of Project CHILD. "Journal of Research on Technology in Education" 33 (4): 367-73.
Dwyer, David. (1994). Apple classrooms of tomorrow: What we've learned.
"Educational Leadership" 51 (7): 4-10. (EJ 508 281)
Dwyer, D.C., C. Ringstaff, & J.H. Sandholtz. (1991). Changes in teachers'
beliefs and practices in technology-rich classrooms. "Educational Leadership" 48
(8): 45-52. (EJ 425 608)
Kulik, J.A. (1994). Meta-analytic studies on computer-based instruction in E.
Baker and H. O'Neil, eds., Technology assessment in education and training.
Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Mann, D., C. Shakeshaft, J. Becker, and R. Kottkamp. (1999). "Achievement
gains from a statewide comprehensive instructional technology program."
Charleston: West Virginia State Department of Education. (ED 429 575)
Ringstaff, C. (Forthcoming November 2001). The learning return on your
educational technology investment: A survey of recent research findings. WestEd.
Available online http://www.westedrtec.org.
Apple Classrooms of Tomorrow (ACOT)
ACOT was a research and development collaboration among public schools, universities,
research agencies, and Apple Computer, Inc. Initiated in 1985, ACOT began its
work in seven classrooms that represented a cross-section of Americas elementary
and secondary schools. Its goal was to study how the routine use of technology
by teachers and students might change teaching and learning.
Apple Technology Planning Guide (http://www.apple.com/education/planning/) The
Planning Guide is a tool designed to assist you in creating and implementing a
technology integration plan for your school or district.
Project CHILD (http://www.ifsi.org/child.htm) A computer-integrated
instructional system for grades K-5. Project CHILD enables elementary schools to
effectively use technology along with best teaching practices. he focus is on
reading, language arts, and mathematics.
Technology Planning Toolkit
Provides rubrics, checklists, and other guides for planning technology
implementation. Where appropriate, links are provided to other sites that offer
models of best practice, example plans, and additional tools and resources to
support a more informed technology planning program.
The Guiding Questions for Technology Planning
(http://www.ncrtec.org/capacity/guidewww/gqhome.htm) Designed to help begin a
technology planning process, select a planning model, and move the process
forward. It is considered most useful when it is used within a larger planning
process and not simply as an add-on or one-time discussion.
West Virginia's Basic Skills/Computer Education program
This study examines West Virginia's long-running Basic Skills/Computer Education
program and its positive impact on students' standardized test scores. West
Virginia has had across-the-board increases in statewide assessment scores in
all basic skills areas, and their NAEP (National Assessment of Educational
Progress) scores have risen.