Technology Use Planning Overview

Reflecting on the concept of technology integration, I began to assess the definition, use, and benefit of technology use planning in modern-day institutions.  In essence, technology use planning provides a physical outline of how an organization intends to harness and implement current, technological trends into a strategic development plan.  In other words, a technology use plan is a physical description of how an institution can integrate technology into future lessons or activities.  According to researchers Abdullah S. Al-Weshail, et al. (1996), “[t]echnology planning is an activity that provides direction and helps users understand clearly where they are now and imagine where they want to be” (p. 9).  For example, a school district might foresee a future where mobile devices are the preferred method of learning.  Thus, they could put together a technology use plan to determine what steps and technologies they need to reach their goal of a district-wide, m-learning initiative.  In short, this approach would all be possible by technology use planning.  As I stated earlier, a technology use plan benefits an institution by providing a statement of how that organization intends on using different technologies to enhance their educators, students, and staff’s relevant skills (Nguyen & Frazee, 2009, p. 31).  Thus, it is important for every forward-thinking organization or institution to learn as much about technology use planning as possible.  In the end, it is only though constant study and effective resources can an institution have the significant data needed to make an informed tech use plan.

In fact, one of the most effective resources in technology use planning is the National Educational Technology Plan.  Essentially, an individual could say that the National Educational Technology Plan is a bit like the technology use plan for the entire United States.  In other words, it serves as a guidebook on where technology in our country’s schools stand today and where they believe it will be headed in the future.  In short, institutions and organizations can obtain inspiration for their own technology use plans by simply following outlines and recommendations from the National Educational Technology Plan.  For example, section 4.2 of the NETP suggests that every individual, whether student or staff, have at least one Internet-accessible device to use in and out of school (2010).  Obviously, by adopting this type of strategy, an institution would surely exhibit their progressive outlook on future technology integrations.  Thus, any individual can see that the National Educational Technology Plan serves as a technology-based model for all schools.  In fact, it is viewed as a technology planning, goal-setting reference for numerous educational organizations around the country.  Specifically, the NETP is an invaluable resource that equips schools with concepts they can use in the classroom, and broad ideas that even hold value in the future.  In short, no matter the structure of an institution’s technology use plan, the NETP stands as an effective and powerful resource for any technology use planning.

In probing further into the structure of tech use plans, I find myself agreeing with researcher John See’s article, “Developing Effective Technology Plans.”   In this article, John See makes an impassioned plea on the length of tech use plan objectives.  In short, See (1992) states that technology plan objectives should be short and not long term because of the constantly changing nature of technology.  In other words, because technology is changing so fast, we are unable to know what we need to plan for in the future.  In fact, because of this continual change, See suggests that technology plans should be divided by phases and not years.  He states, “[d]o not let a technology plan lock you into old technology and applications just because it says so in the plan. Newer, more powerful, lower cost technology may be available to replace what you have specified in your plan” (See, 1992). Thus, as I stated earlier, I agree with this view.  Essentially, by having short term goals; people can be sure that their plans are not geared toward outdated technology.  For example, if a technology plan’s objectives were long-term, they could be outdated within a few months because of newer and more efficient technology being developed.  Contrarily, by implementing a technology plan one phase at a time; an organization can ensure they are using the most up to date technology and applications available.

Continuing my examination of John See’s research, I began to study his claim that effective technology plans center around applications rather than the technology.  In this claim, See argues that it is more important to value the skills students receive by the utilization of the technology rather than the implementation of technology itself.  In short, I agree with this assessment.  I believe successful technology use planning is measured by what students takes away from the use of the technology.  In other words, I believe what they learn matters more than how they learn.  In fact, I believe this is the foundational thought beneath all educational endeavors.  In other words, I believe this is the essence of technology use planning and, on a larger scale, the educational process.  In fact, I believe See is on the right path when he provides institutions with a guideline for technology use development.  He states, “[d]evelop a plan that specifies what you want your students, staff, and administration to be able to do with technology and let those outcomes determine the types and amount of technology you will need” (See, 1992).  Again, I agree with his assessment.  In short, instead of building students around technology, organizations need to focus on building students up with technology (Gulbahar, 2007, p. 943).  In the end, I believe this is the only way to experience positive, effective outcomes in technology integration.

In conclusion, I have had some recent experience with technology use planning at my workplace.  Unfortunately, I have seen, first hand, the effects of not having a technology plan before undertaking a large, technology integration project.  In my experience, my current organization hired an IT consultant for a project that realistically should only have taken a few months.  However, because they did not fully understand the technology or all that was involved in the process, they neglected to give the consultant a specific plan, timeline, or budget.  Therefore, believing there were no limits or expectations, the consultant proceeded to milk the project for as long as he could.   In the end, the project took two years longer than it should have taken, wasted a very large sum of money, and put his hiring supervisor’s job at risk.  Obviously, this is an extreme example of a negative outcome.  Nevertheless, this example illustrates the importance of technology use planning, short objectives, and application-centered planning.  In short, all of these elements work together to lead organizations and institutions into a more digitally literate future.

References:

Al-Weshail, A. S., Baxter, A., Cherry, W., Hill, E. W., Jones, II, C. R., Love, L. T.,
. . .Montgomery, F. H. (1996, May 7). Guidebook for developing an effective instructional technology plan: Version 2.0. Mississippi State University. Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/downloads/guidebook.pdf

Gulbahar, Y. (2007). Technology planning: A roadmap to successful technology integration in schools. Computers & Education, 49(4), 943-956.

Nguyen, F., & Frazee, J. P. (2009). Strategic technology planning in higher education. Performance Improvement, 48(7), 31-40.

See, J. (1992). Developing effective technology plans. The Computing Teacher, 19(8). Retrieved from http://www.nctp.com/html/john_see.cfm

U.S. Department of Education, Office of Educational Technology. (2010).
Transforming american education: Learning powered by technology.
Washington, DC: U.S.

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About heidismith3

My name is Heidi Smith, and I am looking forward to continuing my education at Boise State University. Currently, I work for the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen in Texas, where I am a Special Projects Coordinator. In short, I am a consultant and trainer to engineers needing appeals for arbitrations between the railroad companies and the railroad union. We are presently trying to integrate more technology into this process to speed up our current workload. I know that having a Masters degree in Educational Technology will aid me in teaching and training our staff more effectively.
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