Against a backdrop of shrinking school and district budgets, tackling your school’s technology strategy might not be front and center of your overall school goals for 2018. But thinking carefully about your digital framework and its technology investments is vital if it is to support your improvement plans, and provide the best possible education for your students. If your school’s technology strategy is crafted out of a desire for the latest technology, you may end up with a fleet of expensive yet redundant devices. A robust and well-considered school digital framework, however, will save your school money in the long-term if you invest in the most appropriate, upgradable, and long-lasting technologies.
Here’s our guide to planning your 2018 technology strategy:
1. What does your school want to achieve?
Take a moment to consider the bigger picture to maximize your tech investments. What are the existing pain points you wish to address within your school? How does this translate into products, services, and software to support these goals? Ask yourself and your staff the following questions to craft your strategic plan:
- What type of learning environment would you like to see within your school in five years’ time?
- How will pedagogy have changed and how will technology support this change?
- Does your staff feel confident delivering effective, engaging lessons with your current edtech?
- How will your new tech be embedded into the school and what training will be required to make it a success?
- How and where will learning take place, and what role will students play?
2. How can you achieve these goals?
Today, technology is an essential part of a school’s success. Often there is a perceived disconnect between the goals and requirements of the actual technology and information technology departments. In reality, the entire school is dedicated to the following:
- Promoting a safe and secure learning environment.
- Providing students with the best possible digital learning experience.
- Meeting outlined standards.
- Surpassing national targets.
- Meeting the requirements to deliver the new computing curriculum
The art to achieving these goals is collaboration. To ensure the buy-in of your staff, parents, and wider community, plan out how to effectively use the new EdTech in your school’s learning and assessment practices. What’s more, after choosing your tech partner, take the time to build a strong relationship with that reseller or vendor; when they understand your school’s needs, you’ll benefit from a stronger long-term partnership.
Think carefully about the installation process and accessibility of your chosen technologies before committing. You’ll want something fast and intuitive to learn, well supported for technical queries, sufficiently covered by warranty, and involves minimal future maintenance, like the Promethean ActivPanel. Next, fully train your staff so they understand the benefits of this technology. Our 2017 State of Technology in Education report revealed that only 5% of teachers believe they receive full training on their school’s edtech. This, sadly, isn’t nearly enough to ensure the long-term success of your investments. Involve the entire school in your interactive learning plan. Consider the personal development needs of leaders, staff, and teachers, and the views and insights of students and parents or guardians. At the same time, develop core policies and practices for the safe use of technology by all members of the school community.
3. What is required?
Due to the rise in cyber-bullying, the use of technology in schools is under constant scrutiny. You’ll need to ensure you have acceptable use policies and online safety strategies in place before rolling out your technology investments. Make sure that these policies are freely and readily available throughout your school. Communicate your active online safety measures to parents and guardians for full transparency and peace of mind.
As well as understanding technology usage policies, staff, and teachers should be given additional training on data protection and outlined requirements, to ensure your school is compliant.
It is important to look at your school’s budget and check that what you can afford will match your school’s needs. It’s advisable to put desired items in priority order. If your budget is extremely tight, there are leasing models which have flexibility to opt out of the contract if it turns out that the EdTech isn’t suitable for your school’s needs. With some basic internet searching you can also find free guides, whitepapers, and practical ideas for different services to invest in. Conduct thorough research to find which are the most suitable products for your school.
4. How to measure success
Alongside implementing your strategy, communicating the requirements of your teaching staff, IT team, and any third parties involved will help set expectations for the school digital framework, and helps to reduce errors and misunderstandings.
Put documentation in place to outline which systems the staff, teachers, and IT team are responsible for, and the types of activities each new system supports. A successful strategic plan includes a defined set of measurable educational outcomes. This ensures that your technology investment is well considered and contributes towards the school’s educational objectives, rather than investing in technology first and retrofitting it to your school’s challenges or goals.
Your school can then review the strengths and weaknesses of each technology solution, and consider how well it supports your objectives. Overall, before rolling out a school technology strategy, consider how and why new investments will contribute to the overall strategic goals and solve the pain points of your institution, both now and in the future. Interactive front-of-class displays, like Promethean’s ActivPanel, provide your school the longevity of an upgradeable and scalable piece of tech. It connects your teaching staff and students in the classroom for a truly interactive learning experience, and relieves the administrative burden of assessment and evaluation practices. Effective use of such EdTech promotes digital literacy and improves your school’s results and attainment levels.