STRATEGY: Align technology planning with curriculum, assessment, professional learning, and other critical school operational needs.
In this age of digital learning, aligning school technology planning with curriculum, assessment, professional learning, and other operational needs is a necessity. The use of technology intersects with all other areas that contribute to effective teaching and learning. This intersection and subsequent alignments allow schools and school districts to connect the dots when it comes to teaching and learning and break down the silos that often occur. As with several other strategies in this section, this one expresses the need for coherence in planning, to ensure that there are functional connections among all parts of the school building and schooling.
ISTE’s standards for school administrators begin broadly, setting the vision for what schools and schooling can be. As the standards state, school leaders should “inspire and facilitate among all stakeholders a shared vision of purposeful change that maximizes use of digital-age resources to meet and exceed learning goals, support effective instructional practice, and maximize performance of district and school leaders.” Important in this statement is the connection drawn between digital resources and areas like learning goals and instruction. In modern schools and districts these are not separate but inextricably intertwined. Thoughtful planning for that connection and alignment ensures the necessary coherence.
For example, when teachers review curricula, they will look for opportunities to apply current technologies in order to improve teaching and learning that align with research and best practices. As curriculum is developed, companion technologies are aligned with and integrated into all curriculum-related documents. Schools also use technology as a vehicle for diagnostic, formative, and summative assessment, with educators actively using data to guide their choices related to curriculum, content, and instructional strategies.
From the start of the planning stages, school and district leaders need to ensure that technology is planned together with all other critical elements of the school building.
First Steps to Consider
- Create a new vision for a data-based environment that describes informed and well-trained staff, as well as data-savvy students.
- Embark on a school-based planning process to transition the school to a culture of evidence-based, data-informed decisionmaking. The plan should include a timeline and a budget.
- Conduct an analysis of what is needed to genuinely commit to personalized learning (e.g., policy, infrastructure, curriculum, professional development, etc.) and identify which of those needs could be met with current practice and how that would be achieved. Vet the ability and interest of the school in addressing those needs, identifying where gaps may demonstrate a lack of true commitment to personalized learning.
- Gather information from other school districts, as well as regional and national organizations with expertise on the topic.
Complexities & Pitfalls
The school planning process is often undertaken within departments, in a siloed manner that does not nurture collaboration. There are many reasons for this: it may simply be easier, given the complexities that can arise when linking various activities within the school; or the process is undertaken all at once, which can be overwhelming for staff who are used to the simpler, siloed approach. It is critically important to use a step-by-step approach, with models and training on the process. Staff also need to have ownership, not only over the content on which they are working but also over the process they are using. A thoughtful school leader will ensure that all staff are well prepared for this process, with the prerequisite smaller steps.
- What is the current technology plan? How is it already aligned with other areas such as assessment and curriculum? If it is not aligned, how can it be?
- Who creates the technology plan? How are people from various departments involved?
- Has a baseline of technologies at the school or district level been undertaken? How are those technologies connected to areas such as assessment and curriculum?
- What pedagogical shifts and associated professional development are required to ready staff for twenty-first-century digital learning?
- What skills do students and educators need to participate successfully in personalized learning? Consider both student skills related to self-direction and learning strategies, and educator skills related to pedagogy and individualization of content.
- Does the curriculum offer opportunities for rich, authentic, and collaborative learning opportunities?