Prioritizing Technology

Technology leadership in schools can become overwhelming. What gets funded? What kinds of professional development are most important? How do I manage all these devices? How can I work with technology staff to ensure that their time is best aligned to our overall school or division goals? What areas most deserve teacher attention? All good decision makers know that in order to really chart a course, you must collect and use data, then set a vision.

Setting priorities for technology in your district or school involves two layers. First, how do you prioritize what technology aspects are worthy of your own time? Second, how might administrators lead the setting of priorities for the whole district or school?

Personal Prioritization
You might consider taking a self-assessment using ISTE's National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS). Using Profiler Pro, you can take part in a self-assessment aligned to these standards. Your results will help you see areas in which you might need growth. You should also consider getting colleagues to complete the assessment as a group, which would enable everyone to identify the experts among you.

School/District Prioritization
Helping lead an effective vision for technology involves keeping abreast of a lot of information, navigating new waters, and ensuring that all players involved are aligned with each other, and with the broader goals of the district or school. A few issues of note:
  1. Outside the bigger picture of student performance data, every school wants each of its students to be impacted by rich technology experiences. This notion of "digital equity" should be a priority in every building.
  2. Using performance data such as standardized test scores, teacher attitudinal surveys, etc. is a solid launching pad for technology discussions. Ensuring that all efforts are aligned to performance data can save time, maximize results, eliminate waste and duplication, etc.
  3. Incorporating technology itself into the prioritizing process is not only a good way to model technology use for staff, it's also efficient. Many schools have Personal Response Systems (clickers) which could be used to have staff vote on their priorities. Tools like ProfilerPro, Google Forms, or PollEverywhere are also easy and efficient tools for collecting data.

A few priorities are starting to emerge repeatedly in leadership groups with which I work...
  1. Shared vision - ensuring that all instructional and administrative staff speak the same language when it comes to higher-order uses of technology. Each person should be able to define "good technology integration" in the same way. Each member of the staff must also understand how technology use is aligned to overall school improvement goals.
  2. Access to effective professional development - single workshops are fine for demonstrating tools and building awareness. For sustained improvement, and for ideas to "stick," staff must have well-developed, customized professional development at all times.
  3. Internal digital equity. All students in your building or district, regardless of which classroom they're in, deserve a technology-rich school experience that engages them in their current academic life, and prepares them for whatever walk of life they may take after they leave you. Does every student in your building, regardless of which classroom they're in, get equal opportunity to highly-engaging technology use?