|About Face! Technology Planning Upside Down, Inside Out, and Standing on Your Head|
|by Dr. Larry S. Anderson • Founder/Director, National Center for Technology Planning (NCTP)|
|MultiMedia Schools • October 2001|
|In the previous column, you and I agreed
to dive into some areas of technology planning and implementation that
were both exhilarating and thought-provoking. The time has come, then,
for us to do just that!
I encourage you to strap yourself in, hang on, and think deeply along with me as we "stare down" one of the sacred cows in our profession—technology planning. It is, after all, due time for us all to dust off our time-worn opinions of this concept. We simply must hold our beliefs up to the light of scrutiny to see if they still have the same merit they did when we first adopted those notions. We ask ourselves, "Are those ideas and philosophies still meritorious—or are they merely time-worn?"
I pledge that I will join you in this wholesome, healthy self-examination. This column will be a revelation of my fresh beliefs about planning. I suspect that some of you will find my statements shocking, even marginally heretical. Reflecting upon conversations I have had with many of you, though, I am comforted to know that it still is okay for a person to change his/her mind.
So, if you change your mind
in the process of our time together here, know that you will have earned
membership in a growing body of "Thinkfesters" who face, accept, and adopt
change as it comes to us. We don't change just for the sake of change,
however. Rather, we promote the ability to change when fresh facts
and conditions are applied to an area where tradition tempts us to allow
the status quo to form a crust of bland, complacent acceptance around principles
we hold dear.
Old Wine in New Bottles
The impact of this book was that old ideas can find new life. There can be a resurrection of notions that have faced endangerment from "critique drought."
It is time to share with
you my old wine (technology planning philosophy) as it has found a new
bottle (planning model). I hope you savor its taste, but I caution you.
This may take some getting used to.
What Once Was...
I have told many people that planners should strive to include every conceivable idea in their plans, especially if there is the slightest chance that individuals who read this written technology plan will consider it a blueprint for action. It's like this is their one chance to get everything they want catalogued in one place, just in case any questions are asked or any opportunities for expansion come their way.
One result of this is that many schools developed plans that were lengthy and extremely detailed. I recall seeing one technology plan from a school in a major city that took up nine 3-inch notebooks! I remember being impressed. I wonder, though, if I would have been so impressed had I opened the plan and tried to make sense of it. Sheer volume, I have learned, does not equate to high quality.
This concept of being quite
specific is not entirely fault-ridden. I continue to believe that all those
facts I used to promote so adamantly remain true. However, I no longer
hold such concepts to be pivotal to success. Quite to the contrary, I believe
strongly that there is a much more beneficial fashion in which a truly
usable technology plan can be prepared and maintained. Let me explain why
this shift of philosophy on my part has occurred.
Uncle Sam Always Knows Best!—Yes??
For several years, we have
heard pleas from members of Congress that schools show them, in a substantive
fashion, what the "return on investment" has been for the millions of dollars
Congress appropriated for various educational initiatives. Educational
technology is one of the key initiatives in which Congress has channeled
investments. Our representatives deserve to receive a meaningful report
from educators to help them understand how well they have done with the
apportioning of limited funds.
But, Wait!...There's a Catch!
Audit! Perhaps that word sends chills down your spine. I admit it, when I hear this word, I immediately think of the horrible prospects of a tax audit—and how one can really mess up a person's life. A technology audit, however, can be a good thing. If school personnel fear a technology audit, I suspect it is because they simply fear the unknown.
Few schools have undergone a technology audit. Scattered reports from schools that have experienced a technology audit indicate that results are mixed. Some schools have had nightmarish experiences, while others express the opinion that the audit had very little impact. Precious few will admit that the audit was "a good thing" for them. In light of this virus of inconsistency, we at NCTP propose our new technology planning model—one that incorporates the notions of both accountability and audit. And the best part may be that this new model will come close to guaranteeing a positive experience for the school community.
So, as I launch into a linear
explanation of the new model for planning, I ask you to keep in mind that
the "catch" in the technology accountability picture is the audit. You
will just have to repeat to yourself, over and over, "It's a good thing!
It's a good thing! Yes it is!"
New Bottles for Our Wine
For starters, let's accept the following facts as givens:
So, I just nod my head and think, "Well, it really can be this simple, and the sooner we adopt the possibility that it can, the sooner we'll discover success." Also, the sooner we all will be able to show, with great delight, our federal, state, and local leaders what great things we are doing with technology integration efforts. All this will be accomplished by the way we construct our new technology plans!
Hint: If you are at the
stage where you need to revise or update your existing plan, test this
model! I contend that you will find unparalleled success—and you'll be
"way ahead of the pack" when the time comes to demonstrate your accountability.
Details, Details, Details
The beauty of this new model is that the central elements to your technology planning activities are right there in front of you, presented in a fashion that is easily understood by any observer. We have just succeeded in making a hard job quite simple!
All it took for us to accomplish
this major achievement was to design a simple model. But, we had to make
it concrete. This model will meet the demands of federal legislators who,
in their perfect right, are wanting to know how accountable we are. At
the same time, it will be a positive, fun way that schools can brag on
their successes. Even if there are areas where we haven't quite reached
the mark of achievement we intended when we wrote our plans (and that is
surely going to occur), we have a way now to put a positive spin on things—to
show that we are, in fact, making progress toward goals.
Well, time and space have
run out for this month's column. We'll have to pick up right here next
month, so ... come back for more. And be sure to send your e-mailed comments
|Communications to the
author may be addressed to Dr. Larry Anderson, National Center for
Technology Planning; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
Web page: www.nctp.com.
Copyright © 2001, Information
Today Inc. All rights reserved.