Choosing Technology Wisely – ILC08

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Bam!  At 5:30 this morning my eyes were open and I was ready to roll!  After checking out of the hotel, grabbing some coffee, and Moodling the kids at school I was able to attend Antwon Lincoln’s early morning session on Technology Implementation.  I’ve had the luxury of reading his book, Confessions of a Technology Leader, as part of a grad school class.  If you haven’t read Antwon’s book you should.  You might be thinking to yourself, “But I’m not a technology leader.”  Well, if you are using technology at your school and you’re sophisticated enough to use an RSS reader regularly read my blog then you are a technology leader.  Chances are colleagues at your school, whether they be administrators, teachers, or other staff members, look to you for technology leadership.

The focus of Antwon’s session this morning was choosing technology that will produce results and enhance performance.  To help technology leaders choose wisely he suggests using his Implementation Model.  Its a great way to critically think about the software you want to adopt.

Implementation Model – 5 Critical Elements to Evaluating Software

1. Focus

What’s the purpose? What’s the objective?  What will be measured?  What will the software do for our students.  Many times this information can be taken from the product’s website.  What is your “belief?”  How does the software align to the district’s mission and technology plan?  Is it built into your technology plan?

2. Ability

What skills do teachers need?  Specifically, what technical and instructional skills will they need?  Technical skills might include computer skills, knowledge of the software, management skills in a computer lab environment.  Instructional skills could include, how the product connects with content, how to read and analyze reports, how to make instructional decisions (gap analysis) based on reports.

3. Commitment

What level of commitment is needed?  Depending on the software there may be a needed commitment to read reports and use the data to make instructional decisions in a timely manner.  There is also a commitment to learn the product and the site administrator must commit to giving time to use and learn the product.

4. Resources

What is the “stuff” needed to make the product work?  This might include workable computers and network connections.  Computer support to help trouble shoot hardware and software problems may also be needed along with on-going training on how to use the program and implement it well.  Finally a model school with similar demographics and external evaluation.

5. Strategy

What is the plan to implement it? As this is developed, technology leaders should focus on obtaining, sustaining, and increasing abilities, commitment, and resources.

Successful growth will only occur with all five elements developed and in play.  I am sure some of you might be thinking, “Duh of course.”  These steps make logical sense.  However, I have to ask are you really thinking through these when you choose software?  If the answer is “no” I would suggest taking some time to think through each step as you choose a piece of software.

Joe

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