Over the last couple of years, school districts have been experiencing pressure from stakeholders to incorporate technology into their teaching and assessment. However, implementing a technology initiative isn’t easy by any means, especially when you’re in charge of an entire school district. There are all sorts of responsibilities involved, such as overcoming financial, technical, and procedural challenges that often require entire teams to overcome. (expand on pain points) The good news is that all these obstacles can be overcome with hard work and a well-structured plan.
By following a well-rounded process to tackle every key area of focus, you will be able to prematurely spot challenges along the way, helping you better prepare and coordinate with everyone involved in the implementation. In this blog post, you will learn about the X key areas to consider when implementing an effective technological initiative, as well as how to best go about them. Ready? Let’s get to it!
4 Areas School Districts Should Consider When Implementing New Technology
When planning an educational technology project, you should consider what is known about initial costs, as well as any foreseen on-going costs. A report by Quality Education Data indicated that 63% of the average school’s technology expenditures go towards training, maintenance, and online services required to sustain technology initiatives. Funding is an especially critical element of successful initiatives during this time of reduced state budgets for K-12 schools but, don’t worry! There are plenty of alternative sources, such as:
- Bond Monies: while helpful for initial outlays, they often cannot be used for teacher training and, thus provide only a portion of the funding.
- Parent/Community Contributions: largely dependent on the parent-school relationship as well as district. Should be used as an addition to any other funding source, as it is not sustainable in the long-term.
- Partnerships: challenging and time consuming to establish but worthwhile if there’s a good fit.
Private and state/federal funding can help support successful implementation, however, sustained long-term funding should be implemented into your school and district’s operating budgets, including equipment replacement costs, training, support. As you can see, there are many sources for funding to help your school achieve their short-term and long-term goals. By taking care of this first, you can now focus on the nitty-gritty details of coordinating with teachers and administrators, as well as project evaluation for stakeholders.
2) Teacher Professional Development
After you've made sure that your initiative is feasible, figure out what type of training you want the teachers in your district to undergo. Some schools and districts provide traditional after-school, or summer PD for technology adoption. However, this may be insufficient for many teachers. Several factors contribute to quality professional development, such as:
- Time frame: because it involves teachers, PD must be timed to fit the school’s calendar and teacher’s work schedule
- Cost (including ongoing technical support)
- Duration: should be ongoing throughout the year, with easy access to timely technical support from school staff
- Focus: a shift from tools/applications towards for integration in grade level subject areas Districts and schools failing to recognize and plan for regular, relevant, ongoing teacher PD are not likely see widespread use or benefits for most students.
If you provide teachers and students with technology without providing time and opportunities for teachers to learn how to integrate these tools into their practices, you are unlikely to witness any significant changes in instructor or achievement results.
3) Project Evaluation
Next, you’ll want to provide your district with a formal evaluation plan. Such a plan should include measurable data on student learning, instruction, and long-term benefits for those involved. While it may be acceptable for districts to provide anecdotal evidence of change as a result of a technology initiative, others will struggle to justify stakeholders’ commitment if more formal methods are not used. While there is no one-size-fits-all approach, some guiding questions of useful evaluations include:
- How is technology integrated into educational settings?
- How are new digital resources interpreted and adapted by their users?
- How to best match technological capacities with students’ learning needs?
- How does technological change interact with and support changes in other aspects of the educational process, such as assessment, administration, communication, and curriculum development?
Questions like these will direct your attention to the crucial contextual issues that will, in the end, contribute to successful technology implementation. Without including these issues in the evaluation plan, you are likely to misperceive the real value of a particular technological intervention.
4)Leadership and Vision
Last, but certainly not least, you want to have a proper evaluation plan laid out and ensure the establishment of a vision of the role that technology plays in education, which can be shared with staff and the wider community. One clear indicator of successful implementation is a strong commitment to the integration of technology that is communicated, understood, and promoted at all levels of administration. District superintendents are responsible for setting the vision, but principals are particularly critical for implementing effective technology integration by teachers in a given building. This is not just a matter of management but communication, developing and sharing a vision for the role of technology, getting support from the community, and establishing clear outcomes of success so make sure you coordinate with the appropriate staff and administration to ensure everyone is aware of the district goals and objectives.
Now, you're ready to start planning your technology initiative and start improving the performance of your students and teachers. Have you participated in any technology implementation efforts at your school district? What are some challenges you faced and how did you overcome them? Leave comments below!