In our first six years of operation, the same percentage of requests emanated from needs to ‘fix’ what had begun; retool from having purchased tech tools before having established vision, goals, and strategies. These organizations recognized after many hiccups that they lacked overall project plans, sustainability, capacity and focused professional growth opportunities for all stakeholders who were engaging in the transformation.
That said, some also didn’t realize that moving to robust education technology implementations would or could foster any kind of authentic ‘transformation’. There was the thinking that ‘we just buy the tools, get them in the schools, and watch good stuff happen’. I firmly believe that getting the stuff in the hands of teachers and students ASAP is key….everyone needs to use the tools, explore the power and possibilities and then find the path to meaningful integration (the Project RED research demonstrates this). But the latter must be set as a key goal, part of the vision, accompanied by strategies and customized project plan with leadership.
What remains of major concern today, however, is key school decision-makers who are not, will not, or cannot lead their organizations on this front. Many requests come to us from others down the food chain of school leadership or from Board members (always messy). Our first response is that they’ve got to get the key school leaders in the same room to have the same conversation to develop the shared vision, goals, project strategies and leadership. Sometimes they can; sometimes they can’t; sometimes they come back in six months with new leaders who are willing and able.
But we’ve seen a lot of progress in wanting to do the right work – so we celebrate that! I think several reasons across the landscape that have caused those in districts to seek support for following the right path.
• More practitioners’ experiences and communicating regarding having to default on tech tools and promises because of lack of planning • More research (such as Project RED) demonstrating the ed tech implementation crisis that we’ve been in • More professional learning collaborations and networks – face to face and virtual • Same research providing strategies and models for getting it right from the get go • The proliferation of sexy, less costly tablets that school leaders are purchasing in the name of going ‘one to one’; the word is out – just ‘having’ these cool tools doesn’t mean there’s anything new under the sun happening with learning – it’s about changing pedagogy, learning and the ecosystem • The proliferation of students and parents verbalizing their wishes for more technologies in schools (see Project Tomorrow’s results); school leaders must respond – and many are doing the homework, planning first • More 1:1 environments that are successful across the important measures of student achievement, engagement, efficiencies and revenue positive results • Examination and call out at the state and federal levels regarding static versus digital resources • Impetus for online testing expectations – we gotta figure out how all these students are going to take these tests – and oh, by the way, why don’t we look at having each student have a personal, portable tool?
What’s been your experience?
Leslie Wilson CEO-One-to-One Institute Co-author: Project RED Co-author: A Guidebook for Change firstname.lastname@example.org