George Lucas Educational Foundation
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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.

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Noeasyday's picture
Technology Manager of Business and Economics Academy of Milwaukee.

I agree with the above general recommendations but you need to split the technology into Hardware (it has electricity) and Software (it runs on the Hardware).

Software Considerations (in addition to the above) are that the application is supported, i.e. that it has a multi-year update and support package and that it will cross hardware boundaries such as XP Pro to Windows 7 (or 8 soon) or even that it will be usable on Macs (not Flash dependent). Otherwise you are just throwing money at an application that will not be productive for more than 3 years depending on how Microsoft/Apple and the computer manufacturers play with Operating Systems and Hardware requirements.

Hardware is more sustainable, meaning that any computer with the normal specs (Windows 7, 4GB memory i5 to i7 processor)should be usable and productive (in some capacity if not at the top of your resources) for at least 5 years...unless you find an application that blows the specs such as happened when Vista came out and required much broader hardware specs for the computers to handle the OS.

In the end, if you are going to spend money on technology in education go for longevity and sustainability AFTER you adhere to the above thoughts on Curriculum.

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