Educators are aware of the impact technology has as
"a tool for achieving instructional goals" (Ringstaff & Kelley, 2002). Schools and school districts have invested a great deal of money in purchasing "computer-based technology before
establishing clear plans for how to use this important tool" (Ringstaff & Kelley, 2002). Technology does not guarantee learning but technology use does. Since teachers are key players in
implementing such a change, they need ongoing training and support. Introducing a technology plan will help "convince teachers that the use of technology in the classroom is a tool that
will benefit and not hinder [learning]" (Fisher, 1998). This paper focuses on four articles that cover critical issues similar to those in the author's school setting.
Alan November not only explains the ingredients of
a technology plan, he also introduces a technology planning team. The team includes; a director of learning technologies, a school social worker, a former technical support specialist, a
principal, a library media center teacher, director of learning technologies and teachers. According to Alan November, "the technology plan aims to improve student learning, to help
students perform authentic tasks, and to help students learn skills that will prepare them for future careers" (November, 1996, p.3). The author of Critical Issue discusses the steps
necessary for a technology plan. The first step is to organize a planning committee whose responsibility is to develop a vision for the plan. The team must gather information and for its
goals and vision (November, 1996). The team must be aware of the "school district's budget" (November, 1996). This is followed by "professional development and support for teachers"
(November, 1996) It is crucial that "teachers have a reason to use the technology" (November, 1996). Getting teachers to work on collaborative projects is an excellent way to get them
involved in integrating technology in their lesson plans.
Finally, the plan should "be periodically reviewed
and updated. In an article called Got a Plan? Seth Ruef, a tech coordinator at Upper School, adds that evaluation plans are very important to ensure the technology plan generates the
desired outcomes. However, the plan is "never really complete" (Ruef, 2001). Stef Ruef believes that teachers and non technical people need a chance to bring up issues that may not be
understood by technology people. Such open discussions add to the "ownership" (Ruef, 2001) of the plan. In addition, Stef Ruef placed the drafts everywhere so that other members of the
community could "share their thoughts with the committee" (Ruef, 2001). Sharing ideas with others made the plan very meaningful for everyone involved.
Jamie McKenzie claims that technology by itself
does not guarantee effective integration and learning in the classroom. He believes that "effective teaching strategies and lesson designs" (McKenzie, 2003) will be a better way to
integrate technology into the classroom. He suggests twelve strategies to consider when implementing a technology plan. The first step is "True Cost of Ownership" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 3).
This means recognizing the funds necessary for "professional, organizational and program development" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 3). Second and third strategies introduce assessment data needs.
Theses answer questions which "define what is missing and what requires attention" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 4). The next strategy "identifies and stresses the best practice" (McKenzie, 2003, p.
40). Educators need to focus on "improving student performance [as opposed to concentrating on] technology for the sake of technology" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 4). He claims that teachers
should focus on identifying what state standards the learning relates to and how to use technology to address it. This is not an easy task. Professional training and on going support will
make it easier for teachers to pass their confidence onto their students. It is common practice to see teachers mistakenly assign students work that is not appropriate. Instead of learning
how to think and solve problems by means of technology; "students labor for hours over fancy slide transitions and special effects" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 5). Teachers need training in order
to "weed ineffective strategies" (McKenzie, 2003, p.5) from their lesson plans. Jamie McKenzie suggests the technology plan "stress professional development" (2003, p.5). Rather than
train teachers in using software, teach them how to use their curriculums to "[en] rich learning" (McKenzie, 2003, p.5). Teachers like order and structure in their lessons. They should
receive training that "meets their desire for order and practicality" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 6). Schools need to adopt "key values and behaviors [such as] sharing, support, encouragement,
openness, trust and respect" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 6). Cooperation is important for effective learning to take place. The next strategy calls for "pilot tools and programs [for] limited risk
and maximal opportunity" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 7). Schools should not jump head first into any program before doing a pilot test to minimize mistakes. Strategy number ten suggests that
planners should "slow down" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 7). Quality is more important than quality or who was first in installing or using a software or hardware. It "is not a race to be first"
(McKenzie, 2003, p. 7). Teachers may shy away from using technology because they did not receive "reasonable levels of support and predictability" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 8). They became
stressful and "thrown off balance" (McKenzie, 2003, p.8). This resulted in teachers "cling[ing] to routines [instead of doing] experimentation" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 8). According to author
of the article, the school should protect its teachers and "shelter [them] form the storm" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 8). Lastly, Jamie McKenzie suggests that "instead of spreading computers [to
all teachers, we should] build the program around the most enthusiastic and competent teaches and put the resources where they will be used" (McKenzie, 2003, p. 8). Enthusiasm is crucial
for the success of a technology plan.
In the article, Leading by Example: The High Touch
High Tech Principal, Jamie McKenzie discusses the merits of the school principal as the driving force that ensures the success of technology. He claims that "when principals act as
instructional leaders, the program is much more likely to thrive" (McKenzie, 2002). The principal can step in and save the day for each one of the eight obstacles that may threaten the
plan. By working with the staff the principal will make sure that "new technologies are fully but wisely integrated into the regular classroom curricula" (McKenzie, 2002, p. 2) so that
learning will take place. The principal will ensure that the staff receives professional development and "works with a staff committee to invent such a program" (McKenzie, 2002, p. 2). If
there is a problem with the budget or other cuts, the principal will "represent the program interests of the school" (McKenzie, 2002, p.2). Internet safety is an issue that parents worry
about. The principal will reassure the community and parents to become "partners working for information literacy" (McKenzie, 2002, p. 3). The principal will be on hand to "keep an eye on
the horizon [by] planning ahead, [and] anticipating new possibilities" (McKenzie, 2002, p. 3). The principal will "seek grants and extra funds wherever possible and make sure that student
performance is assessed on a regular basis. [This will ensure] where things are heading, what to change and what to protect" (McKenzie, 2002, p. 3). "Develop[ing] a vision for the future
[is very important,] but focusing on that vision" (See, 1992) will have an "impact on student performance" (McKenzie, 2003).
It is sad to imagine a school setting where
technology hardware and software exist but where teachers and students do not use it. That is the situation in the author's work place. An enthusiastic principal can change the picture by
encouraging teachers to become involved in the use of technology. A technology plan with a vision and teacher training support system can turn the computer classroom into a meaningful
Fisher, A. (1998, April 1).
Coordinators influencing teachers. Tech & Learning Magazine. Retrieved April 11, 2004, from http://www.techlearning.com/db_area/archives/WCE/archives/afisher.htm
McKenzie, J. (2002, May).
Just in time technology. From Now On Journal. Retrieved April 8, 2004, from http://www.fno.org/sum02/principal.html
McKenzie, J. (2003). We've
done the Internet. Now what? From Now On Journal. Retrieved April 12, 2004, from http://www.fno.org/sum03/nowwhat.html
November, A. (1996).
Critical issue: Developing a school or district technology plan. Retrieved April 12, 2004, from http://www.ncrel.org/sdrs/areas/issues/methods/technlgy/te300.htm
Ringstaff, C. and Kelley, L.
(2002). The learning return on our educational technology investment. Retrieved April 8, 2004, from http://www.wested.org/online_pubs/learning_return.pdf
Ruef, S. (2001, September
30). Got a plan? Developing the school technology plan. (Parts I, II, and III) Retrieved April 12, 2004, from
See, J. (1992, May).
Developing effective technology plans. Retrieved April 10, 2004, from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm