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Education Leaders Need to Be Prepared for Ed Tech Questions

6 Jul 2015 by Desiree Samson

The classroom of the future is the classroom of today. Libraries have transformed into media centers, classrooms are taking virtual fieldtrips, online courses are making differentiated instruction possible and teachers are no longer the “sage on the stage.” Where education is, and where it is going, is a constant topic. The ISTE Conference and Expo 2015 brought together the people who are invested in — and passionate about — education in the digital age.

Last year 16,095 people attended the conference, and according to ISTE, “91% of administrators say effective use of ed tech is critical to their mission of high student achievement.” The conversation has shifted: technology impacting the classroom is no longer a concept — it is how technology is going to be implemented in the classroom and integrated into the education of students that is leading the discussion.

As a district, school, education leader or classroom teacher, you are going to be asked questions from the public, school boards and even the student population. They will have the questions, you need to have the answers. Here are some points to consider:

1) Plan

You know you want a 1:1 or BYOD program, and you know what software you are going to use. But this is the what — not the how. Make sure before you make purchasing decisions you answer these questions: What is my end goal? How will I measure success?  Does my school have the needed infrastructure in place? Future Ready Schools has a free interactive Planning Dashboard you can use to map out your plan.  

2) Professional Development

Your school has adopted a program and you are ready to implement, but what about professional development — from before the kickoff to continued training? Make sure to identify and utilize your technologically savvy staff as a base to build from, have resources your teachers can use throughout the process and realize that technology is always changing — development is not a destination. Edutopia has a database for webinars, unconferences, conferences and other events aimed at professional development.

3) Communication

No district or school is going to have a flawless implementation. Do not hide your mistakes or setbacks. Make sure you have a system in place for your students, teachers and parents to address issues, ask questions and seek guidance. The more open you are with your process, the more open everyone will be to that process. Here are “11 Ideas for Better Communication with Parents.” Adults especially need to have discussions with students about their use of technology. NPR’s “9 Things We Learned About Phones From a Teenager” sparked a larger conversation between a teacher and her middle school students about their devices and they want to keep that conversation going by opening it up to the public.

4) Digital Citizenship and Student Data

Protecting students — the students themselves and their data — should always be a top priority. The public — especially parents — will want to know this.  Your district and schools need to have a digital citizenship policy in place as well as clear and firm answers about where student data is stored and how it is being used. Here is the White House “Fact Sheet: Safeguarding American Consumers & Families” that covers “The Student Digital Privacy Act” and lists the 75 companies that are committed to safeguarding student data.

5)   Funding

Technology is not a cheap investment, but it is a worthwhile one. You need to understand what the E-Rate is and what it can — and cannot — do for your school. Take stock of what you currently own, make sure to utilize those assets as much as possible, and find out what grants and funding your school may be eligible for.

Education Technology involves everyone in the education community — because they are all invested in positive student outcomes. Make sure that before you move forward with an education technology initiative — or make adjustments to one you currently have in place — that you consider what questions will come up, because in the end those answers speak directly to the success of your initiative.  

Let us know if we can help you meet the technology demands of today’s evolving classroom — whether it’s consulting, integrating devices, storing data or protecting student information.