I wanted to share a guide I have created when it comes to deciding on new technology purchases. It might seem complicated, but if you follow it, everyone will be happy.
1) Does It Enhance Curriculum?
When looking at a new piece of technology ask yourself this question, "Does it enhance my current curriculum?" if the answer is no, stop looking at the tool. You're done. No matter how fancy the tool is, if it doesn't fit into the curriculum, you don't need it. Curriculum needs to be King when it comes to technology purchases. Curriculum should be the basis of every school district and tools should be purchased to enhance it. Purchasing tools without know how it will impact the curriculum is a backwards approach.
2) Why Should We Implement it?
Now, if you answered yes, the next question you have to ask is, "What are the plans for professional development?" A solid professional development plan needs to be created BEFORE a technology purchase is made. Also, by professional development, I mean more than just how to use the tool. Time needs to be spent on WHY teachers should use the tool. Will the tool help struggling readers? Will it help streamline data collection? Teachers need to know the "why" before they can commit to the "how." Comprehensive professional development plans are key to help the staff members that are hesitant to try new technology. If the correct plan is set up for these users, the adoption rate will be much higher than just telling teachers to use it. It is crucial that teachers are provided the help they need, much like the support we offer struggling students. Teachers want to use new tools, but they might not know where or how to start. A strong professional development plan would help all of these problems.
By answering these two questions, rolling out new technology in a district will be a much smoother process. Purchasing technology any other way is a recipe for unused equipment and wasted dollars.