By Ramiro Zuniga, Ed.D.
(Part 2 of 2)
In part one of this series on aspects of technology planning that school districts unintentionally fail to consider, I discussed replacement cycles and preventative maintenance. In this post, I will discuss the need for better tracking of technology and the thought that curriculum should direct the integration of technology in schools.
Even when a fixed assets tracking system is being used, technology equipment is seldom tracked as it should be. Generally technology equipment is recorded into an inventory tracking system at the time it is first received by the school district. The problem that I speak of arises later. Often, technicians and network specialists relocate equipment for various reasons. Sometimes equipment is moved in order to temporarily replace another piece of equipment that has broken down. Often, the temporary becomes permanent. In this one example, you have two pieces of equipment that have been relocated and often go unnoted in the inventory system.
Now, I am not suggesting that the reasons for relocating equipment are not valid. Whatever the reason, losing track of equipment can have serious consequences. One consequence is added difficulty in planning. It is troublesome for a technology director to develop a technology plan if the director has little confidence in the inventory recordkeeping. For districts that participate in the Federal E-rate program, there are specific requirements related to keeping accurate inventory records for several years after the purchase. These requirements even include documenting the reasons for the relocating of any such equipment.
I have seen several instances in which the inventory tracked is in such questionable state that physical inventories are carried out or contracted out as a significant cost.
One final aspect of technology that districts fail to consider is the thought that those in the area of curriculum should drive technology purchases for the classroom.
I have found that technology directors are often given responsibility for creating a district technology plan. It is always preferable for curriculum personnel to collaborate equally with technology personnel in developing a technology plan. When this collaboration does not occur, often the technology plan will focus on the acquisition of technology with only light consideration given to its integration. Seldom is there a curricular plan that delineates how each piece of equipment and associated software will be used daily, weekly, or monthly. Generally, individual teachers are then left to determine how both hardware and software are to be used in his or her classroom.