Your principal has drafted you to create a school-based technology plan. Now what? Try these tech-planning tips:
1 Establish a committee with stakeholders of varying interests. Make sure to include a special-education teacher, an ELL teacher, a math teacher, a science teacher, and an administrator, as well as teachers of other subjects and interests.
2 Conduct a hardware and instructional- needs inventory. The hardware inventory catalogs equipment age, functionality, and condition. The instructional- needs inventory will determine the instructional focus of the computer hardware.
3 Develop a long-term plan. Ask your committee: “In five years, what three technological milestones do we wish to achieve?”
4 Develop a short-term goal. Ask your committee: “In five months, what one goal do we wish to accomplish?”
5 Develop activities that will enable you to achieve the short-term goal. Create a mini timeline of when these activities must be carried out.
6 Grants. These include funds available from local politicians, private foundations, donations, and the public.
7 Repair and repurpose technology. Older computers can often be nursed back to health by being reimaged. If a machine is beyond repair, use it for spare parts.
8 Be wary of purchasing the newest tech toy. Brand-new products can have hardware problems and a limited number of applications and can involve prohibitive costs. Consider waiting for the second version and beyond before investing in what will then be tried and tested tech.
9 Research software solutions. The best way to determine the effectiveness of a program is to test the software, so request trial versions, demos, and white papers documenting products’ effectiveness.
10 Avoid drive-by PD. All too often, schools will conduct just one session of professional development. This is a recipe for failure, as several sessions are needed to see a cohesive improvement. Additionally, follow-up workshops are critical. It is also important to offer a menu of workshops, as the needs of adults learning to use technology vary greatly.
—Jacob Gutnicki writes for the Innovative Educator blog (http://the innovativeeducator. blogspot.com) and serves as a Children First Network director in the areas of accountability, data, grants, and IT supporting New York City schools.