Building an IT Plan and a 21st Century Learning Environment

Let’s say that your school board has created a new vision that states:

By 2012, (your school) will be recognized as a leading international school in Asia and the world by providing a rich cultural and social learning environment for families who seek an exemplary core American educational program. (Your school) will prepare each child for academic and personal success in higher education and life in a global society.
To accomplish this vision, (your school) will:

The vision then goes on to list the core values that the school will focus on to make this happen. One of them being:

Use technology in innovative and authentic ways to enhance learning and communication.

You then form a task force to put this plan into action. Now pretend that you had unlimited resources and the full backing from your School Board, your Superintendent and everyone else on the Administrative team. What would this school look like in 2012? What would this school need to be thinking about now to head it in a direction that in 2012 it could be considered one of the best schools?

There is a line in the epic 2015 video that I love to show that says “2004 will be remembered as the year everything changed.”

Could you create or make change in 2006 so that it could be called “The year to remember”?

What would you do? Where would you put your money? Where would you put your support? All exciting questions with 100 different possibilities.

In my mind I’m thinking flexibility. The system needs to remain flexible so that we can change and evolve as the technology does. To be able to adapt to an unstable environment. Be able to grow with technology and not fight against it.

Next it needs to be supportive. Educators should have support both from the IT department and from the Educational Technology side.

The IT Dept. needs to have knowledgeable people willing and able to fix printers within the hour, to back up systems nightly. To have extra parts laying around so that replacement of printers, mice, keyboards, and computers is easy and seamless. To have a robust network with enough hard drive space to not have to worry about limiting users. To keep systems updates and continually looking for new ways to make classroom use easier and more efficient.

On the educational side there should be Information Specialists that roam the schools helping teachers teach information literacy skills, helping to brainstorm lessons and using tools in new and innovative ways. These Information Specialists would have specialties of there own be it Video editing, Web tools, Publishing Software, Networking, etc. They would not be tied to one school but would use their skills where needed depending on the teachers needs. They would float between all grade levels K-12 working with teachers where their particular skills were needed. Teach lessons if need be or teach skills that are needed to complete a project. I see a support system forming like the one below:

Support Plan

What do you think, what am I missing?

[tags]21st Century Learning[t/tags]

5 Comments

  1. I think that sounds ideal! To me, your statement “Next it needs to be supportive” is the most poignant. Anecdotally, I have found that teachers embarking on new technological journeys can feel particularly unsupported and thusly get thrown off course and either give up or retreat to the comfort of the “way it’s always been done”.

    Thank you for the graphic, I love the idea of bilateral communication!

  2. I agree!!! My school’s facilities are by no means a unique ICT installation in a school, however we have heaps of innovative wonderful ICT integration happening. We think our distinctiveness lies more with the school’s financial commitment to personnel and infrastructure. The network, software and intranet are up-to-date and sophisticated. Hardware for students and staff is regularly rolled-over and technical repairs and maintenance are relatively speedy. To provide this level of support, we have a K-12 IT team of 7 full-time technical and programming staff as well as a Director of Technology.
    But more importantly, for curriculum and staff support, we have 4 ICT integrators, two are K-6 and two are 7-12. As ICT integrators, our role is not to take classes in the lab but rather to support staff and students in their successful utilisation of technology. Because we are not allocated to teach every lesson, we have a good deal of flexibility in relation to the timetable and Just-in-Time training and support.
    Our strategy has been to use the school curriculum as a starting point and to utilise the technology to enhance student learning outcomes. Our teachers are therefore in control as far as driving the activities and weare there to support this.

  3. This is terrific! I’m curious how rank-and-file tech coordinators feel about driving this type of tech plan. Many serve both roles serving as IT AND ed tech (instructional) specialists. It seems often the incessant demands to keep IT running prevents them from collaborating to plan tech enhanced teaching and learning activity.

  4. Given the revolution in space planning which is now emerging in education, many schools of the future will include Learning Commons, facilities which will centralize some of the highest functioning technical and computer environments in the school. These flexible spaces will align more closely to 21st Century goals for learning by bringing together personnel, technology, content and services into one flexible physical space dedicated to support learning in multiple ways. These spaces represent the next evolution of the library but with a much expanded mission. These spaces support online learning as well. Early examples of these kinds of spaces are planned and managed by the Information Specialists and staffed by personnel with multiple talents: tech specialists, writing tutors, learning support, career specialists and others. For these and many other reasons I don’t think the Information Specialist should be subordinate to IT and EdTech but together they can become more than the sum of their parts. I like to think of IT, EdTech and Information Specialists as one super-department cross-operating and cross-training to serve learning. No one person can know it all. A good book which makes the case for this super-department is “Information Technology for Learning: No School Left Behind” by Ferdi C. Serim. He makes a very articulate case for this collaboration.

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