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Develop a Vision and Policy

 

 

Why Develop a Technology Vision?

The strategic use of technology starts with a vision about the schoolwide learning goals and standards necessary to prepare today's students for tomorrow's world. Technology is a wonderful resource, but it is only one component of a good school. Research indicates that schools with successful schoolwide practices also have:

  • A record of improving student performance.

  • Cohesive planning and implementation.

  • Standards-based curricula.

  • Staff committed to building a community of learners.

  • School, family, and community partnership supportive of improvement efforts.

(Policy Studies Associates, 1998)

A technology vision for schoolwide improvement parallels these schoolwide practices. It describes how technology can enhance and extend each practice to meet better the needs of all students in achieving high standards.

Your technology vision should describe a future that is better than the present or past, yet be achievable in a reasonable amount of time. For example, your technology vision might depict your school as having expertise and resources in subject areas where it now has none. Or you may picture students with appropriate hardware, software, and connectivity to electronic networks being able to access information and cultural resources from new kinds of primary sources. You may see dedicated learners--young and old alike--using technology to increase the time, depth, and scope of their learning.

Many educators who have added a technology infrastructure to their schoolwide reforms have found the transformation in teaching and learning so profound that many of their learning requirements became obsolete. Textbook-driven reforms drag when compared to the knowledge, instructional methods, and engaged learning activities that the Internet's instantaneous access to volumes of up-to-the-minute information makes possible. Technology tools extend the amount and kind of knowledge and skills students learn. They increase relevant baseline skills, expand the amount and types of content available, and keep learners of all ages actively engaged in meaningful learning tasks and activities.

Plugging In (Jones, Valdez, Nowakowski, & Rasmussen, 1995) describes a technology vision in which technology opens up new opportunities for all students to become engaged learners. Who are the engaged learners? They are students who take charge of their own learning. Engaged students set their own learning goals to reach standards of excellence, demonstrate an active interest in creatively solving problems and making meaningful connections, and self-evaluate progress toward learning goals. They are strategic in applying technology knowledge and skills to authentic learning tasks. They collaborate. They value others and work with them to develop new ideas and understanding. And, they are energized by learning. For them, learning is itself a motivator that induces excitement and pleasure. (For more details on the relationship between engaged learning and technology, see Plugging In online at www.ncrtec.org/capacity/plug/plug.htm).

Students who are ready for the future know how to use technology effectively for a variety of purposes. Students who miss out on this learning opportunity miss out on vital life skills.

The equitable use of technology across schools and classrooms, and among students and teachers is a vital consideration in technology planning. Equitable expectations vary from school context to school context, depending on the amount and type of technologies available. Nonetheless, all schools and districts should have procedures for monitoring technology equity practices. The following are indicators of equitable technology practices:

  • All students master basic technology literacy skills.

  • All students have adequate hands-on technology time to complete their learning tasks and enhance their academic achievement.

  • All students have access to up-to-date multimedia resources and telecommunications networks to support meaningful, engaged learning.

  • All teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents have adequate hands-on technology time for meaningful professional development of technology literacy skills and curriculum integration methods.

  • All teachers, administrators, support staff, and parents have access to up-to-date multimedia resources, telecommunications networks, and online records to support effective educational practices.

  • All learners and facilitators of learning have timely access to knowledgeable technical support staff.

For a detailed list of strategies for promoting equitable technology access, use, and curriculum integration in education, visit Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory's Equity in Educational Technology Web site (available at www.netc.org/equity/).

Why Use Technology?

  • To provide all students with appropriate technology literacy skills for 21st century citizen-ship, including social and economic prosperity.

  • To facilitate and support student achievement of essential learning outcomes.

  • To provide parents, community members, and staff with the tools and training necessary to support student achievement of essential learning outcomes.

 

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