As Antoine de Saint-Exupéry put it, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
But tech directors and other educators don’t tend to leave things up to
haphazard wishing. They make plans. And that’s certainly the case in February
when most schools and districts are taking on tech planning for the 2015-16
Barry Bachenheimer, regional director of curriculum,
instruction and assessment for the Pascack Valley Regional High School District
in New Jersey, says it’s all about avoiding
shiny objects, short-sighted approaches and the
possibility of side-stepping your organization’s long-term plan. His mantra for
tech planning: Ensure the plan connects with your district’s mission and the
goals you’ve set out in prior strategic planning.
“You can’t make decisions in a vacuum. You have to have a shared
vision. Empowerment, assessment and engagement all require shared vision,”
Bachenheimer says. That’s why tech planning in his district starts with talking
to students, parents, teachers, principals and supervisors.
“We start with the kids and work our way through. We can then rely on
supervisors to be the research experts, principals to look at the operational
piece and everyone involved to rely on the vision for why we do what we do.”
Vision has a prominent spot among ISTE’s
Essential Conditions, which Bachenheimer noted is an important resource for
Bacheheimer also keeps a list of questions
front-of-mind during planning:
- Are you just going for the newest thing?
- How are the items in your tech plan creating a gain
- Can you wait and leverage what comes next?
- Are you looking to add software or upgrade devices?
- Is the equipment you have meeting the needs of
- Is there something out there that’s better? More
- How does your plan connect back to good assessment, instruction,
instructional standards and the ISTE
Michelle Otstot is the principal at Copper Ridge School in Scottsdale,
Arizona, a bring-your-own-technology campus. With new state assessments going
online for the first year, much of her planning in the last few years has
revolved around the tech skills students need to be able to take tests
For Ostot and school leaders in several other states who are transitioning to
online testing, the planning conversation has shifted to identifying the skills
that need to be put in place for students to complete online assessments.
Being a BYOT school means tech planning must also include identifying the
professional learning teachers need to assure that devices are integrated
She also thinks about empowering
leaders and engaging
communities (yep, Essential Conditions) when doing her planning.
Otstot conducted a 12-week study to help address the Empowered Leaders piece.
Information from the study led to the development of a collaborative
apprenticeship model of professional learning where teachers with advanced ed
tech skills assist beginning teachers. Those teachers are then empowered to help
the next cohort of teachers on campus.
“The teachers become leaders as their skills increase, and we are developing
student leaders as a byproduct,” Otstot said.
When it comes to Engaged Communities, “I’m always looking for partners who
can bring new resources to the campus,” Otstot said, “ways we can acquire the
skills we may not have on the campus that businesses might have.”
Recently, Otstot swapped school facilities use for three days of
ed tech professional learning for teachers. “The business needed a facility
where they could film commercials. We needed intensive professional
development.” A perfect match.
Wondering if you’re ready to get down to business on a tech initiative? Get a
snapshot with the ISTE Lead
& Transform Diagnostic Tool , one more tech planning resource.