Critical Steps for Planning Process

From the Field

Indiana Innovation Planning Grants

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The Indiana Department of Education offers Innovation Planning Grants  to support school districts in planning to shift to digital learning and 1-to-1 environments. Each grant is $30,000 and provides resources for data collection, consultants, writers and professional learning for educators. Typically, districts apply for the Indiana Innovation Planning Grants the fiscal year prior to applying for the state’s Digital Learning Grant program, which supports device purchases, and professional learning for 1-to-1 environments.

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For example, in 2012, Seymour Community School Corporation won a technology planning grants for their Focus Area See More T.E.C.H.: Technology Education Connected to High Achievement project. The district spent the 2013-2014 school year focused on three goals: 1) auditing their infrastructure, policies, practices related to digital learning 2) training the technology leadership team in 1-to-1 implementation, project based learning and flipped classrooms and 3) identifying one elementary, one middle school, and one high school academic need that could be addressed through the implementation of technology tools. Throughout the year they developed a technology plan to support digital learning and then applied for and won a Digital Learning Grant. In 2014, each 6th grade student and teacher will receive a device and the 6th grade will shift to a digital learning environment. The long-term goal is to have a 1-to-1 environment for all classes 6th grade to 12th grade.

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Successful districts have embraced the concept that both the technology planning process and the technology plan itself represent two important but very different aspects of planning. A high quality planning process includes a broad stakeholder group working together to intentionally devise a method and rationale for meeting technology outcomes that support learning needs across the education enterprise. Planning for technology in this way is an iterative process that is alive, kinetic, and never truly complete.

Good technology planning embraces the general structure of any thoughtful, systematic process. That is, stakeholders begin with a gap analysis or needs assessment, then define goals, activities, timelines, and outcomes to address the needs, before determining whether needs were met and refining the process based on results. Technology plans are useful for aligning communication messages, keeping issues fresh in everyone’s mind, and for monitoring progress. Plans typically need to be updated every 2-5 years to reflect the rapid changes inherent in technology implementation.

The technology planning process typically includes:

  • Readiness Planning and Needs Assessment that includes a current assessment of topics such as:
    • An examination of the status of the current technology plan, whether the goals have been accomplished and if not, should they be continued.
    • An inventory of devices and hardware including the technology that the district already has access to.
    • An understanding of the current and projected level of the students’ knowledge and skills regarding the technology tools.
    • An understanding of the current level of teachers’ knowledge and skills in using technology as an integral part of instruction.
    • An understanding of how technology is maintained, by whom, and when, including insurance coverage, outsourcing, help desks/tech support, and other approaches the district is taking to ensure the investment in technology remains fully operational.
  • Vision setting – Early in the process, districts typically establish an overview and a mission and/or vision statement that addresses what the district needs, and what impact the technology is expected to have on learning.
    • Create a planning and leadership site-based decision making team representing a variety of education stakeholders from multiple programs and diverse backgrounds
    • Establish an overview and a shared mission and/or vision statement that addresses what the district needs and what impact the technology is expected to have on learning
    • Ensure that the vision/mission is communicated and there is buy-in from educators, students, parents, business, and community
    • Leverage existing partnerships and initiatives
    • Research promising programs in your state and across the nation
    • Provide strong campus support and leadership
  • Definition of Goals, Objectives and Activities
    • Develop specific goals, objectives, and activities/strategies that transform teaching and learning and align to the district’s strategic plan and results of needs assessments
    • Ensure that state and federal requirements and expectations are included in goals, objectives, and strategies.
    • Include a timeline to help ensure that goals and objectives are met in a reasonable time frame
    • Communicate with education stakeholders the timeline for implementation and expected results
    • Identify the person and/or departments responsible for each activity
    • Include a process for aligning activities/strategies with curriculum standards
    • Include well-defined strategies for evaluation, assessment, and accountability
    • Incorporate new instructional approaches and communication models in the plan
  • Budgeting for Costs and Resources
    • Include a detailed explanation of all expenses associated with the plan, its implementation, and anticipated funding sources
    • Budget for people support—pedagogical and technical
    • Budget for student enrollment growth and changes in personnel
    • Include a sustainability plan for the technology over time
  • Designing a Method for Evaluation
    • Develop a process for measuring the effectiveness of the plan based upon metrics that were included in the goals, objectives, and activities
    • Include dedicated time for planning, collaboration, communication, feedback, and adjustment during the plan’s implementation
    • Determine formative and summative methods for evaluation, including online measures to document progress and achievements
Successful technology planning engages stakeholders across the district in a process that closely aligns with the topics identified above. Rapidly changing technologies and new ways of using technology for learning suggest that by its very nature, technology planning will continue to be needed. Also, since it takes time to move through a full planning process, districts can expect to almost always be in some phase of technology planning.
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