HELP! District Technology Plan

Not a very catchy title, I know, but I am so excited by the opportunity I have this coming Tuesday. I will be one of two teachers meeting with administrators and IT people in my district about our technology plan. Here are the brief details of what we will discuss:

1.  Any ideas for our district with information on how it would increase student achievement.

2.  If you have evaluated our Technology Plan for a graduate class or created a technology plan for a graduate class, please bring it.

Now I have lots of opinions on where I would like to see our district go. The top items for me are

  1. 1:1 or as many computers in student hands as possible
  2. Opening up the filter as much as possible for students
  3. Consider Google Apps
  4. Student email accounts
  5. Teacher training for student-centered PD
  6. Wireless and student owned devices including cellphones, netbooks, and ipods.
  7. Buy less software and use open source instead

My district is moving in the right direction as teachers used to be blocked from pretty much everything students were, but now very little is blocked for us. I greatly appreciate this opportunity, but have to assume that these ideas will meet with resistance by some on the committee who truly do not know what great things are being done by other schools around the country and world. It is not that they are against these things as much as it will be new ideas to them. I confess I am zealous for these things and believe this is the right path to take.

It would be very helpful for me if I had some excellent examples of schools already using these tools effectively and/or example technology plans from your school/district. That way I will not look like a radical loner, but have “evidence” to show that these ideas are successful. Please share your thoughts (anything I forgot that you would add to my list?) and links to any “ammunition” to help me with my case in the comments. Thanks, I do not want to waste this excellent opportunity.

I am going to push the limits on this expecting them not to go as far as I would like (i.e. blocking only porn and truly harmful sites, but opening up social media sites for students) but hopeful that they will continue to move in a continuum toward openness and student-centered learning through technology.

5 thoughts on “HELP! District Technology Plan

  1. @PatMJohnson

    Smartboards and Smartboard training is really big in our board right now. Other ideas: Infrastructure in schools such as wireless network and a mobile wireless computer lab.
    Training teachers on making their own blogs as well as student blogs.
    Professional Learning Communities for teachers involving implementing these technologies. Release time to visit demo classes in other areas to see how technology is integrated into their classroom. Release time to participate in webinars on tech in the classroom.
    Definitely agree with less software and more cloud computing so students can access the software from home (e.g. bitstripsforschools.com).

    Reply
  2. Trey Wodele

    I like how you think Concrete.

    I’ve served on a similar committee for my district for several years now.

    We instituted a pilot for Google apps at one small high school last year, and moved it into our main high school this year. Each student has access to gmail, Google apps & Google sites and it is all free to educational institutions. They are now bundling even more cloud-based software (third-party) into the Google fold, so there is even more integrated programs to choose from.

    It has been difficult making the change. Administration and some teachers have been very resistant, but the students embraced it immediately. People are slowly coming around. Support must be across the board and start at the top if the system is to be a success.

    Reply
  3. Rodd Lucier

    It’s a wonderful opportunity you’re being granted Michael. While I agree that wireless, openness, and handheld devices offer the best opportunity for 1:1 computing, there will be many who will be uncomfortable with these changes. Let’s change anyways!

    Break a leg Michael!

    Reply
  4. concretekax

    @Patrick Thanks for ideas. My district is rolling out an initiative of IWB’s for every middle and high school core class next year. I will be advocating for teacher training for those.

    @Trey I know Google Apps is being implemented in many schools right now and I use many of their products already. Would be interested to hear more details about how the implementation was “difficult.” I totally agree with you that support from the top is vital.

    @Rod Thanks for the encouragement. I know that wireless and student owned devices may be too big of step for some in my district to consider yet. But I want to push the idea and hope that perhaps my middle school could pilot a test program.

    The positive thing is that @colonelb ‘s middle school just went wireless with student-owned devices and it is a neighboring district to ours so there is a local example of it.

    Reply
  5. Raymond Johnson

    I like your list, and hope you find other good schools setting good examples. Unfortunately, at my last school our plan looked like:

    1. Keep computers in a limited number of over-reserved computer labs.
    2. Restrict student internet access with a whitelist, allowing them to only see staff-approved sites.
    3. Dismiss Google Apps because the district would not have 100% control over data and backups.
    4. We did start having student email on a student-by-student request basis.
    5. No teacher tech training.
    6. No wireless access. It was considered to be an unproven, unreliable technology with security risks that outweighed benefits. Our tech staff worked hard to make sure students could not connect devices of any type to the network.
    7. Resist open source software because “it doesn’t prepare students for what they’ll use in the real world.”

    It’s refreshing to see progressive perspectives and an openness to new ideas. Good luck with the plan!

    Reply

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