Technology has been around us for decades. However, the rate of change and development is now growing exponentially. With new technologies and methodologies, we often find ourselves, as educators, unsure of how best we should utilize new and old technologies both in our personal lives and as instructional tools.
Technology Use Planning aims to address such concerns by institutions proactively coming up with a carefully constructed plan of action. The Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan explains that the purpose of technology planning is, “…not only to create a document, but also to provide a foundation on which an effective curriculum of technology use in education can be built and maintained.” (1999). Such plan would allow its designers (for our purposes, the educational institution) to reflect on, and better understand, the institution’s current standing. In addition, based on where the institution envisions itself in the future, they create a detailed plan including benchmarks and timeframes in order to achieve the desired goals. Lastly, the means to measure success would be established (1999).
Such plan is needed in order to transform individuals from mere consumers of information to active, creative, knowledgeable, and ethical participants in this global networked society. The NETP’s Introduction page offers an excellent reflection point for where schools should direct their efforts in order to accomplish such education reform:
“…schools must be more than information factories; they must be incubators of exploration and invention. Educators must be more than information experts; they must be collaborators in learning, seeking new knowledge and constantly acquiring new skills alongside their students. Students must be fully engaged in school—intellectually, socially, and emotionally. This level of engagement requires the chance to work on interesting and relevant projects, the use of technology environments and resources, and access to an extended social network of adults and peers who support their intellectual growth.” (2012)
The new National Educational Technology Plan 2012 would be an excellent place to start such endeavor. This is a detailed plan of action carefully designed by highly qualified educators (teachers, learning and assessment experts, ICT Specialists, etc.), while taking into consideration the feedback received from many teachers, industry experts, and the public (2012). By using the NETP, schools can get insight into the government’s desired direction and goals, and create their own technology use plan based on that. Although it may require changing budgets, creativity, personal investment, and a lot of time, by understanding the larger goals, and being given implementation guidelines, each school can begin to create their improvement path at their own pace.
The NETP suggests 5 goals and outlines recommendations for each of them. These goals relate to: an engaged and empowered learning; careful and appropriate assessment; teacher preparation/ training; accessibility to infrastructure; and, re-designing and transforming productivity (2012). In order to properly utilize this information, schools should form committees, and review, discuss, and create and implementation plan for each goal in their own level, and according to their school’s needs and abilities.
John See, a Technology Integration Specialist from Minnesota Department of Education, believes that technology use plans must be short term (up to one year) due to the rapid changes in technology (1992). I believe that when educators sit together and plan the direction in which they would like to see a particular aspect going, they should create both a Vision and a Mission Statement. The vision would describe the direction in general terms, the “desired goal”, while the mission would outline how to get there, what are the steps of implementation. So the plan can continue to change through frequent reviews, but the end goals (the “WHATs”) will always be there to guide the implementation steps (the “HOWs”). So a vision can be written for a long term, but the implementation plan must include mandatory yearly reviews under the assumption that due to the nature of technology, at least some aspects of the plan would be revised every year.
This also ties to John See’s comment that effective technology plans should focus on applications rather than technology (1992). One of the important lessons I learned from the assignment on the digital divide and digital inequality was that access to technology alone does not guarantee the creation of informed, creative, and ethical citizens. If we design our plans based on the number of computers we “should” have, we run the risk of overlooking our end goals and wasting valuable money, because we need to think what technology would allow us to satisfy our needs/goals rather than grappling with the question “what can we do with this computer?” That said, having technology around is better than not having it. However, if we focus on the kinds of citizens we wish to produce/become, we can then deduct that in order to achieve these goals we would need certain technologies, or in certain cases decide that technologies are not necessarily needed.
When I consider incorporating technology into my lessons I first ask myself, “How will the technology enhance my lesson?” Should I use technology because it is fun for the students, or because it adds something unique to it? If it adds to it, then how? and what? When I found out about Dr. Ruben Puentedura’s SAMR model (Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, and Redefinition) which discusses four levels of technology integration, I finally had a more concrete understanding of possible answers to my questions.
This model really got me thinking about my own practices. How different is it to have my students type their essays on the computer? Why should I use Google Docs? The SAMR model helped me understand that if I want to integrate technology in a meaningful way, I need to think about how I can push the use of technology as close as possible to the “redefinition” end of the spectrum. Getting students familiar with a variety of applications, software, and tools is very important, so that they can make their own decisions. Taking advantage of the possibilities of research and collaboration tools are a must. Creating something new, that was never possible before the technology was invented is what we should strive for. Create, Invent, Re-define!
* Update: I was so interested in the SAMR model that I did more research and included my reflections and new understandings in my blog post SAMR- A Technology Integration Model.
Anderson, T. J. (2008, November 8). Technology use planning. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/tja33/technology-use-planning-presentation
Graduate Students at Mississippi State University. (1999). Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan. Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook35.pdf
See, J. (1992, May). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19, (8). Retrieved from: http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm
U.S. Department of Education Office of Educational Technology. (2010). National education technology plan. Washington D.C: Author. Retrieved from: http://www.ed.gov/sites/default/files/netp2010.pdf