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Education Leaders Need to Be Prepared for Edtech Questions

17 Feb 2017 by Desiree Samson

This article originally appeared on Jul. 6, 2015, and has been revised to bring our readers the most up-to-date technology information.

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 2016 brought together the people who are invested in — and passionate about — education in the digital age.

Last year 14,691 people attended the conference, and according to ISTE, “91% of administrators say effective use of edtech is critical to their mission of high student achievement.” The conversation has shifted: technology in the classroom is no longer an abstract concept. Now, it is how technology is implemented and integrated into the education of students that is leading the discussion.

As an education leader at the district, school or classroom level, you will face questions from the public, school boards and even the student population. You need to have the answers. Here are some points to consider:

1) Planning for edtech

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.” Before you make purchasing decisions, be sure you know the answers to these questions: What is the end goal? How will success be measured?  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? Before your program kicks off, be sure to identify your technologically savvy staff and use them as a model to build from, have resources your teachers can use throughout the process and realize that technology is always changing. Professional development is not a destination; it’s a journey. Intel Education offers free teaching resources and tools, including free, on-demand online professional development courses.

3) Communication

No district or school is going to have a flawless implementation. Don’t try to hide your mistakes or setbacks. Put a system in place for 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 “10 Ideas for Engaging 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 companies committed to safeguarding student data.

5)   Funding technology in the classroom

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, be sure to use 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 before you move forward with an education technology initiative — or make adjustments to one you currently have in place —you consider what questions will come up because, in the end, those answers speak directly to the success of your initiative.  

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

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