Management: Technology Planning and Policies

Are there technology policies?

Existing, implemented technology policies can be a background against which a technology plan is carried out, or they can be one desired end goal of the implementation of a technology plan. Examples of such policies might be acceptable use policies (AUPs) or policies related to the privacy of student data records. A school or district may also have broader policies in place that will influence a technology plan, such as business policies that could include requirements for impact analyses, financial contingencies, or security safeguards.

Policies with local impact can be adopted at any level, from the school to the district or region, or to the state as a whole. 

Is there a technology plan?

As stated in the Overview to this chapter, technology plans are central to technology deployment. They can be tools of reform and guidance, and as such they can impact every aspect of technology infusion in the school or district from dialogue to professional development.

Technology plans undergo review and approval by many outside groups. Some are reviewed and approved at the state or even federal levels. The requirement for outside review imposes structure on a plan. Plans not requiring outside review can be much simpler and can depend on the initiative of local proponents, such as a superintendent, principal, or teacher technophile. However, all planning efforts can benefit from considering the components listed in this chapter. All technology plans should take into account long-range funding issues; focus on instructional and administrative enhancements and goals; identify an implementation phase; coordinate all aspects of technology integration, including professional development or staff training; and evaluate outcomes.

The first indicator deals with the pre-planning phase, which must be given careful thought in order to ensure the success of a technology plan. The stages of a pre-planning phase include a current-status assessment of technology, including equipment, skills, and use. Additionally, a current and future needs assessment provides the plan with direction and credibility. Finally, the make-up of the planning team needs to be determined, and participants identified and recruited. The members of the planning team are the ones who will bring the plan to life, including solidifying district and community "buy-in" of the plan and finding the funds to make it happen.

Is the plan being implemented?

Creating a technology plan and getting it approved and funded are only the beginning. Implementation has its own timeline and benchmarks, including purchasing equipment and installing, training, and evaluating each new technology introduced. The technology plan should account for each of these components, as well as implementers or teams responsible. The indicators below point to broad categories of implementation components. Technology planners will want to adapt their implementation efforts to the details of the overall plan and/or revisions to the plan.

Is the plan being evaluated?

Perhaps the most important aspect of the technology plan process is evaluating its results and impact. Provisions for revising the plan should be a part of its creation, in the form of a review cycle that includes timelines and reporting. Possible components of the review cycle are listed below. If records from the pre-planning phase have been kept, the evaluation phase will be able to provide greater insight into the plan's progress and impacts. Possible means to obtain measures used to determine progress include customer feedback, plan audits, focus groups, and surveys.

It is important to remember that technology or parts of the plan that are not implemented should not be considered failures. Implementing new technology can be a daunting undertaking and flexibility is needed for any change process. For this reason, evaluation in a variety of formats is critical in objectively determining what is working and what needs more attention.