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By Glenn Meeks

http://smartbiz.com/article/articleview/180/1/9/

A COHERENT SYSTEM OF INTEGRATION

Be as honest with yourself as possible and insert the most accurate word for the following statement: "When I assess ALL grade levels and ALL content areas in my district, most teachers and students are (rarely, seldom, occasionally, moderately, consistently) using technology as a tool to accomplish instructional tasks in the classroom." Now, answer that statement while replacing the phrase "most teachers and students" with the phrase "80 percent of the teachers and students." Did any of you insert a word indicating use above the "seldom" level? If you did, congratulations (or shame on you for not being honest), you are in a rare minority of school districts. Of the 200 school districts or so I have interfaced with through the last nine years, I can name only two districts who would qualify for the "moderately or consistently" adjectives (no, I will not name them - I will not open up that can of worms!).

We are starting to hear superintendents state and ask, "I have spent ... or, Before I spend... gadzillions of dollars, what value have I gained (or will I gain) from these technology expenditures?" Can we justify these large dollar expenditures as beneficial to educational outcomes, or are they simply politically expedient? The few studies that have taken a look at the effect of technology on student outcomes clearly indicate that the effective integration of technology is dependent upon the user proficiencies of the teachers, not the quality of the technology. OH!!! So a good technology master plan is more than just a list of hardware and software that we would like to have?

Before we delve deeper into our view of a coherent technology master plan, we need to address the timing issue. We are observing a major disconnect between technology integration and the facilities planning process. The typical "best practice" is represented by the project architect/engineer team and the district facilities personnel meeting with instructional leaders, or working from a set of educational specifications, to define the parameters of a new facility, and additions or renovation to existing facilities. Essentially, the program is set without the participation of the professional development or technology representatives of the district.


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