Tech Tips is a content collaboration between SmartBrief Education and GreyED Solutions.
Starting this month, we are running a new section every Tuesday in our brief, SmartBrief on EdTech. Called “Tech Tips” this section will feature tech-related tips and advice from your educator and IT peers in K-12. The tips will be featured on our Connected Teaching and Learning content channel on SmartBlog on Education. This week’s tip, from Dawn McGrath at Hamilton Southeastern Schools, outlines why instruction should take the lead on IT product purchases and implementation decisions.
The selection of software and hardware products is critical. It both augments and restricts the productivity and success for everyone in the system. In your district, how are decisions made regarding which technologies to use?
Let us for moment consider the metaphoric context of yard work. Do you decide to dig up a patch of lawn because you have a new shiny shovel… or do you buy the shovel because you need it to prepare the perfect spot for a flower bed? Do you cut a tree to remove dead limbs… or do you cut down a tree to try out your new chain saw?
The technology decisions made at the district level are similar. Commitments to hardware and software must be the result of clearly articulated academic purposes. Individuals with the understanding of the curriculum, assessment and instruction must take the lead.
This sounds so simple and yet how many districts have seen their technology budget spent on gismos and gimmicks? How many times has the excitement of a vendor show led to a hefty purchase that was a mismatch to curricular priorities and processes? How often do piecemeal purchases result in solutions that are not integrated?
Using a logic model for strategic planning, the first phase involves examining the current status and the needs of the system. The primary goals are stated in terms of student learning outcomes with secondary goals involving efficiencies in management processes. In instructional initiatives, the curriculum expertise takes the lead and the technology leadership plays a supportive role.
No less important is the second phase of strategic leadership where integrated solutions to support these identified needs are proposed by the technology team after careful consideration of available resources.
The interrelationship among the members of a district administrative team has a profound impact on the degree to which instruction is made more effective through the integration of technology. At your next leadership meeting, ask your team members if you have identified the purposes that could be strengthened with technical solutions or if you are just looking for ways to use shiny tools.
Dawn McGrath, PhD, is the director of secondary education at Hamilton Southeastern Schools. McGrath’s background includes 15 years in the classroom and 10 years of service and leadership in state-level administration. She has served as a university instructor, a Post Doctoral Fellow and PhD program coordinator. She served in Central Administration for Kokomo Center Schools prior to her current position. McGrath’s future includes continued educational advocacy.