Checklists for Planning a Technology Initiative

from Educators' eZine

Recently, I was working with my Technology for School Leaders graduate students on planning for technology. I prompted the students to develop a Planning Technology Initiative. Below is a summary of ideas they devised for their technology plan. As you'll see, it's a great start for any district embarking on technology planning.

Steps for embarking upon new technology initiatives:

establish a context for decision-making (based on your technology plan and policies)
define the task, conduct a needs assessment, establish technology requirements, and describe current computing and networking technology resources.
evaluate defined needs relative to current capabilities and select a solution that will meet the goals of the initiative.
implement the selected technology solution and incorporate it into your comprehensive technology and security plans.
secure your technology and information.
provide for the maintenance and support of your technology solution on an ongoing basis.
train your users to maximize the utility and efficiency of your technology.
integrate the technology resources and technology-based practices into the daily routines, work, and management of the organization.

Identifying Technology Policies that Govern the Organization

Types of Technology Policies:

policies governing acquisition, maintenance, or disposal of school equipment or applications.
information security policies
acceptable use (or appropriate use) policies (AUPs)
file access restriction policies
policies concerning donated equipment and software
policies regarding commercial advertising on school websites
policies governing community or after-school access to technology

Possible Indicators for Assessing Technology Planning

What technology policies are currently in force?
What types of policies are being developed?
What processes have been established for updating an existing technology plan?
What processes have been established for developing new technology policies?

Developing a Technology Plan
Sound Technology Plans document that planners have:

considered the implications of long-range funding issues
identified timeliness and milestones
coordinated all aspects of technology integration, including professional development and staff training
established evaluation mechanisms

Technology planning and policies should address the following three major areas:

vision - the overall expectations for technology in the organization
access - the acquisition, deployment, and availability of technology to intended users
integration - the methods and strategies for ensuring that technology is implemented appropriately and meets user' needs and organizational vision

A technology plan must meet the following five criteria that have been established as core elements of successful school technology initiatives:

The plan should establish clear goals and a realistic strategy for using technology to improve instruction and administration in the education organization.
The plan should include an assessment of the hardware, software, networking, human resources, and financial resources needed to improve education services.
The plan should provide for a sufficient budge and schedule to acquire, maintain, and secure the hardware, software and related issues (e.g., training) that will be needed to implement the strategy.
The plan should have a professional development strategy to ensure staff members know how to use these new technologies to improve education services.
The plan should include an evaluation process that enables the organization to monitor progress toward the specified goals, and make midcourse corrections in response to new developments and opportunities as they arise.

Good technology plans should address the following major components:

current technology status, needs assessment and other preplanning products
organizational vision/goal statements
equity issues
applicable technology standards
integration into core curriculum (if applicable)
pilot program activities
infrastructure and support for infrastructure, including such facilities-related needs as air conditioning/ cooling systems, etc.
review of current "state of the art" technology for options in design of infrastructure
current capabilities of hardware and software
projections of "next generation" capabilities and features
long-range goals
inventory control issues, such as maintenance and replacement cycle
budget projections and funding sources for initial installation, hardware, software, maintenance, security and training
staff training
benchmarking standards
quality control components
security planning
evaluation planning
review cycles

Possible indicators for technology plan development

Are the fundamental components of a good technology plan present (see above)?
Has the plan been reviewed by stakeholders groups?
Has the plan been approved by the necessary authorities?
Has funding support been assured?

Implementing a technology initiative

A technology plan should specify a timeline for implementation, which often occurs in steps. When these steps are incorporated into a schedule, they are called benchmarks and can be used to assess whether the organization is making reasonable progress toward achieving implementation.

Possible indicators for technology plan implementation

What is the status of each major plan component?
Are plan components and other benchmarks being achieved on schedule?

Evaluating a technology plan
The technology plan should include a schedule for evaluating the initiative, as well as procedures for revising the plan based on events as they unfold. The plan should provide details about the proposed review cycle as well as other components of the evaluation, including the use of indicators that can assess:

implementation benchmarks
budget analysis
technical performance
utilization records
user enrichment (e.g., student performance)
community support

Possible indicators for technology plan evaluation

Is the technology plan being evaluated?
Have specific steps during the implementation stage been identified in the plan.
Have indicators for assessing specific implementation steps been identified in the plan?
Is there a documented review cycle?
Does the plan get revised based on evaluation?
Can planners answer the question: Are desired goals being achieved?

Evaluating the implementation of your technology plan
Technology implementation is a continuously changing process that adapts to the organization's changing circumstances. Effective evaluation allows planners to rethink and adapt objectives, priorities and strategies based on the realities that present themselves as implementation proceeds. The following questions are developed to evaluating technology plan implementation:

What windows of opportunity exist for reviewing the technology plan?
Who will be responsible for collecting ongoing data to assess the effectiveness of the plan and its implementation?
What is the key indicator of success for each component of the plan?
How and when will you evaluate the impact that your technology implementation has had on student performance?
How will you assess the level of technological proficiency gained by students, teachers, and staff members?
How will you use technology to evaluate teaching and learning?
How will you adapt implementation in light of new information and technologies?
How will you analyze the effectiveness of disbursement decisions in light of implementation priorities?
What organizational mechanism will be created to allow changes in the implementation of the technology plan?

After our discussion, I thought that the above, though not exhaustive, would be a summary of a good technology plan initiative that can be applied by administrators at all levels of academic institutions.

Email:Lazarus Ndiku Makewa