Years of research and practice have shown that technology integration can be helpful only if it is thoughtfully planned and implemented in alignment with curriculum and instruction1. An effective plan aligns technology integration with existing initiatives in the school. Ensuring that home access is part of the plan will allow us to close the homework gap. If access is only provided at school, the homework gap will persist.
Technology alone does not enable powerful teaching and learning. Technology is only a tool, but it can be used to create powerful learning experiences for students when leveraged by a teacher who knows how to use it that way. A plan should be in place to ensure that integration and use of this tool are driven by shared visions for how technology can support teaching and learning and fit well within existing goals and initiatives. A plan with shared visions provides a focus for all decisions around how to secure appropriate resources and support to sustain successful integration and meaningful use. This plan should address all six elements discussed in this guide.
Without such a plan, teachers may not value use of technology and misunderstand what meaningful integration and use involves, and professional development leaders and instructional coaches may not know where to focus their efforts or how to guide teachers in achieving their goals through use of technology. A well-defined and comprehensive plan also helps school and district administrators make strategic decisions about the success of technology implementation. As such, this plan can set the stage for building and fostering a culture that embraces trying new things, risk taking, collaboration, and growth2.
Planning for success means having equity as a mindset and developing plans in partnership with school leaders, district administrators, parents, and other stakeholders. Developing a blueprint for family engagement and addressing the different needs of each student, with particular attention to students who are traditionally marginalized will result in more buy-in across the school community and support of a new school culture.
Strategies for success:
- Prioritize developing a well-thought plan before taking any other step: The leadership team can consider including the following five ingredients in the plan: (1) a needs assessment that determines how technology is currently being used and where the pitfalls are; (2) a conceptual framework that establishes an approach toward meaningful use of technology and addresses the pitfalls; (3) short- and long-term goals for use of technology for powerful teaching and learning; (4) a plan to support educators to help them achieve those goals; and (5) a feedback loop of key performance metrics to measure and calibrate the impact and success of the plan.
- Share the plan with teachers, staff, and families: The plan should be shared broadly. School leaders should explicitly communicate how this plan incorporates technology in a way that will help meet goals set for teaching and learning.
- Stay flexible: It is important that district leaders provide campuses the autonomy to implement technology in ways that best fit their specific needs. School administrators and school-based coaches understand the particular context of their campuses and know the types of adaptations necessary to make a plan most effective in their school community.
- Center equity in planning: Addressing the unique needs of each student, particularly those from traditionally marginalized communities, will result in greater buy-in within the school community. Tools like Digital Promise’s Digital Equity Checklist are a good way to start planning discussions.
One of the first things new Verizon Innovative Learning Schools do when entering the program is to build their leadership team and draft a plan for each school. The plan aligns current school goals and any improvement plans with how technology will be used in teaching and learning to achieve those goals. Throughout the year, school leaders can revisit the plan, make any necessary adjustments, and keep everyone galvanized around the common goals outlined in the plan.
Schacter, J. (1999) The Impact of Education Technology on Student Achievement: What the Most Current Research Has to Say. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 20.
Roschelle, J. M., Pea, R. D., Hoadley, C. M., Gordin, D. N., & Means, B. M. (2000). Changing how and what children learn in school with computer-based technologies. The future of children, 76-101.
Kotter, J. P. (2007, January). Leading change: Why transformation efforts fail. Harvard Business Review, 85(1), 96–103.