May 1, 2012
By Blair Milam
With the evolution of ubiquitous learning, which refers to the “anywhere, anytime” learning environment made possible by mobile technology, it is paramount that schools integrate technology into the classroom as part of a student’s day-to-day learning experience. Given the limited resources schools have today to spend on technology devices and comprehensive teacher training, there are several steps districts can follow in order to successfully integrate technology into the classroom.
Implement a district-wide technology initiative with 5 key components:
1) IDENTIFY STAKEHOLDERS.
An effective initiative impacts the entire school community: administrators, teachers, students, staff, facilities, and curriculum, as well as the broader community, including parents, board members, and local civic and business leaders. Creating a supportive team to help guide the implementation process is essential to effective development and long-term success.
2) BUILD A TASKFORCE.
Enlist the support of representatives from all key stakeholder groups. It is helpful to design an actionable plan that defines short and long-term goals for the initiative, and demonstrates how the initiative will improve the quality and effectiveness of teaching to increase overall student achievement.
3) DEVELOP TEACHER BUY-IN.
K-12 Blueprint Computing notes that teachers are central to systemic change in the classroom. By soliciting teacher input and giving instructors a voice in the decision-making process, the result is more likely to be a collaborative adoption of a shared vision, as opposed to an ill-received directive. Teacher morale is very apparent to students, and as such, it is nearly impossible for change to take place if those responsible for implementing it are resistant or pessimistic about the outcome. A US DOE report suggests:
- Creating a core group of early adopters (teachers who are eager to use instructional technology);
- Providing teachers with computers for personal use;
- Rewarding teachers for effective use of instructional technology; and
- Establishing clear goals for the development of technology skills.
4) CREATE A STRATEGIC AND SUSTAINABLE PLAN FOR INTEGRATION.
The establishment of a strategic and sustainable plan can be the driving force for overcoming leadership barriers to technology use. Successful strategic plan implementation considers four elements: people, process, technology and data. K-12 Blueprint suggests that in developing such a plan, districts should:
- Develop objectives for students, teachers and administrators.
- Align these with district technology and content standards.
- Determine how the program will be evaluated – how will success be measured?
- Determine procurement policies for the initiative.
- Consider long-term funding and how to sustain the initiative over time.
- Create policy documents to guide the process and educate the participants.
- Review security and acceptable use polices and revise them as needed.
5) MAXIMIZE COMMUNICATION.
To facilitate the collaborative process, encourage the task force of supporters to communicate plans, updates, and changes using 21st century technology tools. Inform users and administrators of short- and long-term plans by communicating 1) what is changing, 2) when the change will occur, and 3) what impact the implementation will ultimately have. Continuous communication—for instance, through milestone reports to key stakeholders—is also important, as it keeps stakeholders engaged with, and informed of, implementation progress.