For some, this may be old news but when we visit with schools across the US, you would be surprised how many schools do not have an Education Technology Committee that consists of the key stakeholders within a school community. We know there are still a large percentage of schools that are at the beginning stages of their digital transformation; and as with any successful initiative, having communication and accountability is the key to success. Having the right mix of stakeholders will ensure that there is proper representation across multiple disciplines in the school and provide the proper perspective whether you are at the beginning stages of transformation or have achieved a level of future readiness for 21st Century Learning. For the schools that have achieve future readiness, it is a good bet that they have some form of an ed tech committee that meets on a regular basis.
In our 20 plus years of experience going from the single lab setting where teachers had to walk their students to the computer lab in a building to today where innovation is taking place with STEM labs, Virtual and Augmented Reality, Robotics and Interactive learning spaces there is one common theme we have come across for success and that is the school has some form of an ed tech committee which includes Administrators, teachers, curriculum, technology and in some cases community members and students. They meet on a monthly basis to discuss how they are doing with their current ed tech plan (If one exists) or they are at the beginning stages of developing a plan. Having stakeholders with different perspectives is important to try and best meet the needs of everyone involved in the learning process and provides governance for future initiatives. Having a consultant or community members with an outside perspective can provide insight on best practices and how IT is integrated and managed in other Schools or in the private sector.
The Steps to Future Readiness
1. Find a Meeting Facilitator: A technical understanding or previous experience is a bonus, but what you really need is someone motivated and responsible for keeping your committee on track, conscience of budget, detail-oriented, and sensitive to time.
2. Develop an Ed Tech Governance Plan: Set goals for deadlines and budget so you can adjust the plan as needed.
3. Review Current Issues: Use the data from help desk tickets to identify professional development opportunities and possible network/devices issues.
4. Define Learning Goals: Being details with future curriculum initiatives in mind, will make sure you stay on the path to Future Readiness.
5. Check Bandwidth: This could be your single point of failure. It is the most important to ensure that your will outlined in Step 3.
6. Select Devices: Device requirements at the elementary, middle and high school levels can be very different and can quickly change as new technology becomes available.
7. Research New Initiative: Form a sub-committee to research and bring info back to the overall committee.
8. Start a Professional Development Program for Staff: Review feedback from previous training classes and determine future requirements for new technology training and new staff members. Training will also help with retention of great employees!
9. Secure Campus: Review cyber and physical security incidents and recommendation for system or policy changes. Although physical security is not usually considered part of a technology plan, if you choose to include it, technology is providing several new techniques for safeguarding your campus.
10. Open Discussion: There are a lot of distractions that take place with limited resources and time, but it is important that schools make time once a month to meet for an hour after school with the ed tech committee to keep everyone on the same page and minimize the silos that can exist without communication.
It is also important to remember that each school is going to have their unique set of challenges when it comes to digital transformation, but they all have the same goal and that is preparing students for the workplace of the future. That isn’t going away.