A successful educational technology plan requires a clear educational vision that addresses the needs of the modern day learners. It needs to incorporate a
holistic educational approach that will guide the direction for technology expenditures and use. It needs to be cost-effective and sustainable and at the same time highly effective. It has to address a vision for its use. It is often felt that schools are still delivering education that has now become obsolete and lag behind in preparing students to advance and progress in the 21st century. They need to integrate educational technology into learning models that address 21st century needs, for which they need to create effective educational technology plans that are also affordable for them.
Here are 10 steps to create a successful educational technology plan:
Develop a modern educational vision: Earlier schools served the purpose of bringing people and content together and providing access to knowledge that was scarce. But now, the scenario has changed, content is everywhere and education in schools has to deal with abundance not scarcity. You should envision to reform education with technology since children use it more than anything else. You should decide on what technology you need now, be it iPads, iPods, YouTube, Google, Twitter, etc., and also consider what you will need 10 years from now. You should imbibe the 21st century characteristics to learning by making it modern, mobile, collaborative, connected, blended and digital.
Invest in infrastructure: Since the future of education is wireless and mobile you need to decide which connection to bring into the campus, how well it is distributed within the campus and how you’ll handle its filtering and monitoring. Invest sufficiently to make sure that your school’s physical facilities support your learning program. Infrastructural support is highly needed to teach successfully with technology. So, you need to invest wisely to reform the infrastructure of your school such that it supports technology.
Save on classroom projection technologies: For most schools, classroom projection technologies take up a major part of the budget. The SmartBoard technology is widely prevalent. You need to assess if investing such large amounts in frontal teaching affects your vision and whether or not you get value for your investment. Try to replace SmartBoards with affordable and equally effective alternatives such as interactive projectors and HDTVs. These alternatives serve the same purpose and cut down the costs of the very expensive SmartBoards.
Decide on the student technology model: Plan the technology access model for your students. You can either set up computer labs for students which have limited access, are shared, school financed and maintained; provide them with laptops that provide anytime dedicated access, are school purchased or parent financed and are maintained and controlled by the school; or implement the BYOD (Bring-Your-Own-Device) approach which guarantees anytime dedicated access, the devices are parent financed, require no maintenance and are inexpensive, they require limited control, are web-oriented and are suitable for middle and high schools.
Create a virtual learning environment: Encourage online and blended learning. Online learning is interactive, driven by interest, personalized, networked and collaborative, allows instant formative feedback and corrective action. You can invest in interactive LMS (Learning Management System) that is affordable such as, Edmodo, Schoology, Blackboard and more. An LMS offers a vibrant place of learning and knowledge exchange through blogs, discussion forums, wikis, polls, portfolios, community interactions and live discussions.
Emphasize on training and professional development: Try to spend a little less on equipment and more on professional development and training of your teachers and students. You can send them to conferences, host workshops in the school and in collaboration with other schools. Encourage your teachers to start a blog, join Twitter and develop a PLN.
Minimize investments in servers, storage and software: These three components have deprecating value, require battery and data backup, physical and software security, repair and downtime, network consultants, upgrades and start-over replacement. Cloud computing can reduce hardware, software and IT costs dramatically and add significant functionality. So, consider using cloud-based apps such as iCloud, Dropbox, Google Apps, etc.
Replace Textbooks: Textbooks are conventional ways of learning and information access. Replace them with eBooks which are interactive, include multimedia, include testing and formative assessment and have features for social reading. You can also create class wikis on Wikispaces.com to build a common knowledge base and use tools like Diigo for social bookmarking.
Be flexible: What seems to you a technological miracle today, may lose its value tomorrow. With technology there is always a need to be flexible. Don’t rush to adopt expensive technology as it may soon have affordable alternatives that are equally effective. You should be flexible enough to replace and upgrade your current technology, as it keep son evolving.
Utilize government subsidies: Some government fund programs offer discounts on selected services to qualifying schools, libraries and other welfare organizations. Always keep yourself aware of such programs to utilize what they offer to support the development of your school.
A successful educational technology program should be optimized and affordable and should be developed keeping in view the future needs of modern day students.
How do you think an affordable educational technology plan can be developed? Share your views in the Comment Box.