Planning into Practice: Resources for Planning, Implementing, and Integrating Instructional Technology
“The technology divide in schools isn’t about who has technology. It’s about how technology is being used. And the divide still follows socioeconomic patterns. If you’re in a school serving low-income students, chances are they’ve got plenty of computers, but they’re using them to do drill and practice. And that’s really the reason we developed this tool, to make sure that technology serves kids well, in every possible school setting.
“Originally, we started out with a professional development project to find out what it would take to get 18 test-bed schools without many resources — some of them didn’t have stable electric current, let alone a technology director—moving along a continuum of technology use. At that time, over five years ago, the technology divide was largely about infrastructure. But what we wanted to focus on, even then, wasn’t the infrastructure. It was teaching and learning goals, and how technology and a solid infrastructure could support them.
“Our project was a collaboration of a lot of folks doing technology work with schools. It was managed by the SouthEast Initiatives Regional Technology in Education Consortium (SEIR*TEC) at Southeastern Regional Vision for Education (SERVE), with the participation of three federally funded regional educational laboratories—SERVE, Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), and Learning Innovations at WestEd. Federal funding through the Regional Technology in Education Consortium (RTEC) made it all possible.
“We were using and refining a number of tools with our test-bed schools and decided to collect them for others to use. Naively, we thought tools would be enough. What we finally realized was that people also need examples—if you’re going to use a technology inventory form, it’s helpful to have a template, but people also want to know when to use it and why. They want examples all the way through the process: What do other schools’ overall visions, values, and action plans look like? How did they involve the community and why was that important? How did they get funding? Once they identified goals, how did they back them out to hardware and software? How did they manage the technology? Oh, and by the way, how did they evaluate the effectiveness of their plan?
“So Planning into Practice combines tools with concrete examples and guidance. It is especially useful to schools in a somewhat early stage of integrating technology into teaching and learning. These are schools that have equipment, may have teaching and learning goals, and even have a few people who are doing some interesting things. But most people are not doing much. Planning into Practice is really a boost into that next level, where technology makes a difference in both what and how kids are learning.
“We know it’s being well-received. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recommends it to its grant recipients, Harvard students find it is required reading in one of their courses, and state technology directors from across the country applauded it at the recent technology meeting of the Council of Chief State School Officers. Wide distribution in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands is under way. And as one recipient commented, ‘Finally I have just what I need all in one document—lists, forms, and guidelines.’”