Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Be Strategic With Your Technology Pillars

When it comes to blogging, I have sat on the sideline for the last few years and have learned a ton from reading what others have shared. For some reason tonight, I am feeling the sudden urge to share my thoughts on technology and education - here goes blog #1:

This post focuses on five key pillars that I believe every tech department needs to have a strategic plan for. While this comes from a district perspective, this applies to individual schools also. And when I say "strategic plan" I am not referring to some 100 page pretty document or elaborate plan. It is a simple as a short-term and long-term plan. The short-term should fill the current need of a school or schools and fit into the long-term vision - both are tied together. Key pillars:

1) Infrastructure: What is your plan for virtualization and moving your data center off site? I think more and more districts need to plan for eliminating their data center and utilizing infrastructure as a service. This is something that our district is moving towards as part of our longer term strategy.

2) Devices: Have you started the 1:1 roll out? How will BYOD factor into this? Have you selected your devices? What is your scale and evaluation plan? Many more questions, but these are some that districts need to have a solid plan for. We are rolling out Chromebooks and iPads, which we evaluated as the best two learning devices in the market place today. Should be interesting to see them head-2-head, but the key for us is to stay flexible so that 2 years from now if we decide to switch to another device we are all set. Cloud will help with this. We believe that BYOD is going to be the supplement to the district supplied device.

3) Digital Content: Obviously this is tied to the device strategy. Districts should be identifying how much of their current static materials have a digital alternative. Granted the alternative will likely be just as bad as the textbook, but it brings us all closer to interactive/online content. How can we leverage the best content across all of our teachers? Perhaps a key here is to have the curriculum leaders in discussions on this if you have not already. I am lucky enough to be in a district where they are leaders in this discussion.

4) Learning Management System: How will you organize all of the great digital content, systems, and applications in a simple delivery system that teachers and students can leverage to manage their learning plan? This is a pillar that both confuses and annoys me. Since everything out there is so bad, why not select a free system for the short-term and have an "exit strategy" ready (this was a great tip from Tom Woodward)?

5) "Cloud" Collaboration Movement: By now we have all send the power of cloud collaboration and email. Google continues to wow districts.....365 is intriguing. Either way, districts need to move away from paid email and have a solid strategy for which one to choose, how to leverage it to the fullest capabilities, and how to manage change!

Wrapped around the above is professional development, which also requires short/long term strategy. I purposely kept each of the above components short and sweet....I plan to expand on each of these as separate follow-up posts (if anyone cares to hear details of my thinking). Question for anyone that may stumble upon this - do you have s short and long term strategy for the above? Do you have leadership buy-in?

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the above.

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