By Dr. Ramiro Zuniga
There are many reasons why school districts create technology plans. The most common, in my opinion, is to meet the requirements of the federal E-Rate technology discount program.
School districts are required to create a technology plan in order to be considered for discounts on networking cabling, equipment that provides Internet access, and basic maintenance services. E-Rate sets forth specific criteria for the development of an acceptable technology plan as a condition for funding eligibility. Other reasons for creating technology plans include: justifying technology expenditures to the School Board, providing direction for future technology integration, and providing information to the public.
Regardless of the reason, technology planning is essential to successfully raising the level of technology integration in the classroom. Unfortunately, many administrators view the writing of a technology plan as a tedious and unforgiving chore. As such, their goal is to simply create a technology plan that meets whatever criteria is required for approval.
I have often seen that many administrators use some of the following flawed techniques in creating the plans:
- Blindly “copy and paste” from previous technology plans or those belonging to another district
- Exaggerate intended accomplishments with unrealistic goals and objectives
- Plan for expenditures that are not aligned with actual budgets
- Mimic other technology plans
- Overuse buzz words and acronyms such as BYOD
- Include names of software solutions
- Include brand names of technology equipment
- Leave the technology plan solely in the hands of the Technology Director
To be fair, writing a technology plan it is not an easy task. However, school district administrators follow these techniques because they know that others will read their technology plan. These administrators want their district to appear to be on the cutting edge of technology integration.
I would suggest the following strategies be followed in order to create a solid and realistic technology plan:
- Read and evaluate progress made on previous technology plans
- Create a plan that spans three years
- Include goals that are realistic and attainable
- Keep language simple to ensure readability and comprehension
- Create a technology committee that will create and maintain the technology plan
- Refrain from specifying brand names
Although it is important to read through other technology plans, administrators should never worry about their plan looking like other technology plans. Reading other plans should be carried out as a strategy for developing implementation ideas, goals, and strategies. The primary goal of any technology plans should be to fit the needs of the school district. It is more important to have a technology plan reflect what is truly happening in a district versus competing with other technology plans.
The writing of a technology plan should be a well thought-out, shared undertaking. It is impossible for one individual to envision the entirety of a school district’s direction as it relates to technology integration.
As a final thought, technology plans should be written using simple language, in as brief a fashion as possible. After all, what good is a technology plan, if nobody wants to read it?