Technology

Technology is only one enabler of school change, but it's a critical part. School leaders find, test, and gain their team's support for the right technology (tools and processes) to meet the school's vision.

Strategies For Success

Invest

Invest in technology for learning: identify people to oversee the roll-out and ensure that tools and infrastructure meet school needs.

Align

Ensure that technology supports learning goals; the roll-out should be a collaboration between the IT and curriculum departments.

Plan

Thoroughly plan the roll-out, including pilot programs, to build excitement, identify issues, and measure impact.

Support

Ensure that everyone in the system (students, parents, teachers and administrators) has the right skills and support.

Invest

Reflection questions

  • Who is responsible for each specific roll-out? Can you point to specific individuals?
  • Does this team have the necessary authority, incentives, capacity and skills to be able to lead a successful roll-out?
  • Do you have the right partners to fill any gaps?
  • Have you assessed your current infrastructure (e.g. broadband, access points) and equipment (devices, software) against what you need to meet your learning goals?
  • When you select tools and devices do you consider multiple criteria including (1) learning impact (e.g. meets curricular goals), (2) technology management (e.g. time and money cost) and (3) outside factors (e.g. testing specifications)?

Align

Reflection questions

  • Are the heads (or empowered representatives) of both the IT and curriculum departments equally involved in the roll-out?
  • Can you directly link your technology investment and approach to the district’s vision, showing how it will directly impact learning?

Plan

Reflection questions

  • Have you planned or executed pilot programs to understand impact, user experience, and issues before wider roll-out?
  • How will you stage your roll-out, targeting different audiences to drum up excitement and ensure that everyone feels supported?

Support

Reflection questions

  • Have you asked educators what the technology team can do to make their lives easier, removing barriers and friction? Do they have a channel to give feedback and ask for help?
  • Do all the various groups in your system have the right skill levels to begin using the new technology?
  • Are support systems in place so that when people struggle, they are able to get the help they need?

Technology

Plan for your technology needs

Whether you lead the technology team or are just considering technology as part of your overall transformation, the planning steps and tools below can help.


Technology overview

1

Assemble your Technology team

While the Chief Technology Officer is likely to be responsible for any significant technology roll-out, it cannot be done in isolation; you'll need a team. As with any project, you'll be much more effective with a group supporting you, assembled from all the key stakeholders.

However, this means that before you can begin putting your team together you first need to learn more about your stakeholders. This initial stakeholder analysis is critical— it will form the foundation for future team efforts and it’s essential that you give it the attention it deserves. For a technology roll-out this may include teachers, students, Ed Tech co-ordinators, the curriculum department and potentially even local businesses.

Once you understand the stakeholders, you should identify which of them will become part of your team. You may also choose to have different subgroups, for example a working group and an advisory group.

  • Conduct a stakeholder analysis
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  • reWork: Google’s research on effective teams
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  • 2

    Investigate & Understand

    Members of your team should understand as much as they can before (and during) planning. To be effective they should:

    a) Understand the existing situation in the school / district so they are grounded in reality.

    b) Understand what research says so they make informed decisions.

    c) Understand what other schools and districts are doing so they can be inspired by what is possible.

    Dedicate time to this phase so your plans can be made realistic for your specific situation, and effective due to the tested nature of the actions you take.

  • Conduct a situation analysis
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  • Madera’s technology readiness survey
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  • 3

    Set goals

    You want technology to support the overarching vision, and it can be immensely helpful to set goals that help you accomplish this.

    To get started, think about what success looks like; picture a time a few years from now. What does technology use look like? Now turn this into 2–5 outcomes or goals. While these are not set in stone, the assumption at this stage should be that if you meet these goals, then you will be supporting the overall vision in the best way possible.

    Keep in mind: at this stage the goals should be actionable, achievable and measurable. You should know when you've met your goals, and they shouldn't be so large that you're unable to do so.

  • Set SMART goals
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  • reWork: Google’s research on setting goals
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  • 4

    Identify actions and solutions

    You should now have a good understanding of where you are (the current situation), and where you want to be (your intended outcomes). In order to move between the two you need to do something— make decisions, take actions, and start new programs.

    These actions may be obvious, in which case you should spend a short period of time brainstorming to make sure you do indeed have the most effective solutions. Alternatively the required actions may be unclear. In this case, a more structured process — for example design thinking — will allow you to identify the best solutions.

  • Learn how to brainstorm effectively
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  • Design thinking toolkit for educators
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  • 5

    Make a plan

    Now that you have measureable goals and have identified actions to meet those goals, organize this information into a project plan to keep everyone on track. A project plan can help you visualize the entire process from beginning to end, work more effectively, and avoid unnecessary obstacles.

    You can put together a project plan in six steps.

    1. Write a project charter

    2. Identify your project requirements

    3. Break your project into key milestones

    4. Brainstorm all tasks and assign deadlines

    5. Assign a team member to each task

    6. Assess your risks

  • A guide to effective project planning
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  • Project planning template
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  • 6

    Launch & Iterate

    Equipped with a solid project plan, your team is ready to accomplish your goals and bring your vision to life! Encourage each team member to frequently reference the project plan and to keep it up to date as they accomplish tasks or run into obstacles. Monitor your progress using the project plan and through effective meetings. Don't forget to stay in touch with other stakeholders and keep them happy along the way!

    And of course you are unlikely to have a perfect plan on day one. Measure your progress, record lessons learned, and iterate. Finally, celebrate your successes!

  • A guide to effective project implementation
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