Technology Planning for Digital Learning
SECTION 3: GUIDING QUESTIONS FOR PLANNING
I. DISTRICT VISION
VISION – A vision is an overview and a mission statement. A vision expresses thoughts about what the LEA's future technology-rich educational environment will look like. The vision statement should be written in broad terms and guide the development of the digital learning plan.8 Samples are available in the Technology Planning Resources section in this document.
- Is there a vision for digital learning in the district that is shared among all stakeholders?
Do all instructional settings have what is needed for an effective digital learning environment
in terms of infrastructure, bandwidth, devices, onsite technical and teacher infusion of technology support, teachers who can facilitate technology thinking and usage in the content area, and assessment of student technology preparedness?
- Are there non-traditional options for scheduling and course offerings?9
- Are teaching and learning instructional materials scaffolded to eliminate barriers to all general education courses for any student to have full access to the curriculum and active participation in instructional activities?
- Is there someone in the district who stays informed about model programs and initiatives as it relates to a technology-infused curriculum?
- Does the district connect to learners' homes so that learning in the connected schools does not end when the students leave the school for the day?
- Do educators understand and/or are able to be stewards of student data so that only those with lawful access to the data can access it?
- Has the district created an environment that supports risk taking and innovation while maintaining accountability?
- Are there key policies and practices that have or will be changed to transform the school or district into a digital learning environment?
II. DISTRICT INFRASTRUCTURE
If NJTRAx Technology Readiness system was updated within the 2015-2016 school year, then skip ahead to the next section III. TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE DISTRICT else continue.
- Is there an existing robust technological infrastructure that meets current connectivity goals and that can be augmented to meet future demand that is at least 100 KB per student external connection for each 1,000 students and 1000 KB per student internal connection scalable up to 1 GB Ethernet or 1,000 MBPS?
- Is equipment scalable, such as firewalls, switches and routers that form the backbone of both wired and wireless networks?
- Is equitable access to technology and connectivity available to all students within the school grounds?
- Is there efficient routing of information between internal users and external resources?
- Is bandwidth and current Internet usage tracked?
- Is there ongoing coordination when ordering new technologies and maintaining technology between the maintenance department within the district, the lead persons for both educational technology and assistive technology, and all principals?
- Does the district have security software to manage potential hacks, viruses, etc.?
- Is there a security system(s) in place to determine who can automatically enter a district building (i.e., Access control systems, taped video security or proximity readers)?
- Is there digital citizenship support and education available for staff and students?
- Are the needed technical solutions to support the educational environment, both academic and administrative identified and addressed?
- Are IT resources maintained by a reliable and responsible person or firm? For those districts that need additional technical support, does the district collaborate with other districts for shared services to ensure onsite assistance available for online assessments?
- Considering all network equipment (security cameras, wireless devices, desktops, all ports), does the district document all infrastructure setups and IP address schematics?
- Is there an anytime/anywhere learning environment?
- For Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) environments, are management policies in place?
III. TEACHING AND LEARNING WITHIN THE DISTRICT
If the Future Ready District Level summary report was generated within the 2015-2016 school year include a copy of the district report with the Plan submission then skip ahead to the next section V. SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE else continue.
CURRICULUM, PEDAGOGY, TEACHING, LEARNING, AND ASSESSMENT11
Curriculum, Teaching, Learning and Assessment
- Do students collaborate with peers and create original deliverables as an outcome?
- Do students critically evaluate their work and peer work for continuous improvement?
- Are barriers identified that impede teachers in effectively infusing technology into instruction?
- Are teachers infusing standard 8.2 concepts within their lessons?
NOTE: One useful way to think about Standard 8.2 is to look carefully at one particular strand, Standard 8.2C: Design. In this strand, the purposeful analysis of steps in any process to accomplish any goal or set of goals is the focus. The conscious and deliberate design process (analysis, trial and error, assessment and redesign, more trials and revision) is a uniquely human capability, and fostering this capability in all students is a critical part of education in the 21st century. The technology standards offer teachers a path to incorporate this kind of deliberative thinking in much of what students do in order to learn how to critically read and understand in any subject, write convincingly across the curriculum, and use mathematics and science to understand how things work or might work better.
- Do students learn from one another, from the teacher and from resources available outside the school walls?
- Considering the district's vision for student learning, do teachers know about the technologies that will help make this type of learning more achievable and through what pedagogical design?
NOTE: There are many models to guide an LEA in developing professional learning plans for teachers. The Technological Pedagogical Content Knowledge (TPAK or TPCK) framework focuses on the equal intersection of pedagogy, technology and content knowledge for teachers to increase effective integration of technology. The Substitution Augmentation Modification Redefinition (SAMR) model continues the approach by allowing teachers to gauge their progress in how technology is utilized in instruction. Universal Design for Learning (UDL) provides the "how" to engage all students that looks at ways technology is used in learning. NJTRAx Digital Learning surveys provide a quantifiable gauge for a school as a whole, but not an individual teacher. Teachers can gauge their own progress as they continuously improve their digital learning implementation skills. Then there is the Daggett Model for Effective Instruction. It "leverages more than the teacher in the classroom. It emphasizes vertical alignment—with organizational systems and structures and with instructional leadership—and horizontal alignment—with teaching colleagues and classroom resources—as keys to student success."12
- Are multiple means used by students to demonstrate learning?
- Do students have digital portfolios to maintain online collections of their work and objects?
- Is learning personalized and differentiated for each student based on his/her proficiencies, learning styles and interests?
- Are activities interest-driven and span contextual boundaries?
- Are teachers given adequate time, freedom and resources?
- Do students create learning contexts for themselves within and across different content areas?
- Do teachers facilitate learning and look to students for answers as much as students look to teachers for guidance?
- Do teachers have opportunities to share information, processes and research that contribute to effective use of tech infusion?
- Are innovative practices encouraged to support equity and reduce performance gaps based on race, national origin, gender and physical or mental disability?
IV TRANSFORMATIONAL BUDGETING
- Is the monetary source for all upcoming purchases identified?
- Are the funding sources for recurring services, anticipated purchases, and professional learning (include the technology resources to support the district's technology initiatives) over the next three years identified?
- Does the district have a system in place to determine if what is purchased is actually being used appropriately?
- Is the district using innovative ways to fund educational technologies?
V. SCHOOL INFRASTRUCTURE (for each identified school)
If NJTRAx Technology Readiness system was updated within the 2015-2016 school year then skip ahead to the next section VI. TEACHING AND LEARNING (for each identified school) else continue.
- Is a robust technology infrastructure established (bandwidth, Internet connectivity, number of devices for testing, switches, WAPs, etc…) that meets current connectivity goals, meets the PARCC online assessments recommended specifications, and that can be augmented to meet future demand for a digital learning environment?
- Is there equitable access to technology and connectivity in all instructional settings for all students? Equitable access includes elimination of cultural gaps, opportunity gaps, barriers obtaining teaching and learning resources, and digital device gaps.
- Based on the needs assessment, is there a determination as to what needs to be upgraded (consider the issues noted in the question #2 above)?
- Is there on-site maintenance and tech support–current and proposed– available to meet the district's educational goals, and to manage and maintain the district computing environment?
VI. TEACHING AND LEARNING (for each identified school)
If the NJTRAx Digital Learning Surveys summary report was generated (include a copy of the report with the Plan submission) then skip ahead to the next section 4. BUILDING THE TECHNOLOGY PLAN FOR DIGITAL LEARNING else continue.
TEACHING, LEARNING, AND ASSESSMENT14
- Do school administrators understand the difference between relying on a "canned" software package for student learning content and teachers empowering students through the infusion of digital tools to teach with effective instructional pedagogy?
- Are there opportunities for teachers to gauge where they are in preparing for or utilizing a digital learning environment?
- Are teachers aware of and/or using effective learning models?
- Are students assessed for meeting Standard 8.0 in grades K-12?
- Do all students have ongoing opportunities to collaborate with peers in and outside of school?
- Does the district have a system in place to assure students in grades 6 through 8 meet Standard 8.0 by the end of grade 8?
- Are innovative practices that support equity and reduce performance gaps (based on race, national origin, sex and physical or mental disability) encouraged?
- Have all 14 essential conditions been met? If not all met, which ones do not have and why?
- Do changes need to occur within the school in terms of physical, virtual and blended instructional design to promote collaboration, problem-solving, innovative thinking and creativity within a safe, sustainable, technology-rich environment?
- Do family members understand the value of a digital learning environment?
- Do students and teachers have access to personalized learning experiences supported by technology and professional learning for the effective use of data and technology?
- Is technology access ubiquitous and used for learning in every instructional setting in the school?
- Are community leaders engaged in making connections for students to the real world?
- Are specific strategies used such as developing the growth mindset to motivate students to become technologically prepared? A growth mindset in people who believe they can develop their basic abilities fosters higher motivation and achievement than those who believe those qualities are fixed. It may assist in motivating students when fostered by teachers who help them set personal goals, encourage them to embrace challenge rather than pursue easy tasks for the sake of "success", and give them a clear sense of their progress as they work toward mastery.
The purpose of professional learning is effective continuous teacher education to help teachers reflect on their competencies and develop and enhance those competencies, and to keep current on the theory and practice to improve teaching and learning in the classroom. Professional learning methods must be diverse – not "sit-and-git", but stretching further into the classroom. The finds of two recent federally funded studies conclude that the current approaches to teacher training have no significant effect on performance.15 The key is to set goals and measure impacts against those goals, and utilize a variety of support. See Appendix G for additional considerations.
- Are specific research-based, ongoing professional learning opportunities provided to all staff to increase their proficiency in implementing, assessing and supporting a variety of effective practices for teaching and learning in a digital learning environment?
- Do staff have ongoing professional learning that is personalized to each individual's teaching practices utilizing technology? Does the professional learning foster his or her progress toward the LEAs vision and expectations of digital learning in the classroom? Do teachers need assistance to implement strategies that incorporate content knowledge, skills and global literacy into learning?
- Are teachers educated about the harms of copyright piracy?
- Does the district provide formal professional learning opportunities for teachers to use data to improve student achievement, and understand how to protect individual student privacy in accordance with the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and state and local policies and laws in the use of such data?
- Are various models of ongoing, consistent professional learning used (i.e., peer review and critique of lesson, in-class modeling through coaching, grade level meeting sessions)?
- Is there a formal mechanism in place for teachers to convey their professional learning needs?
- Is there a process for assessing the effectiveness of professional learning of teachers, administrators and noncertified staff that is related to technology infusion?
- Are there opportunities other than face-to-face for teacher professional learning with experts outside of the United States that is organized or facilitated by the district or school?
- Is teacher professional participation on social media encouraged? If so, on what social medium?
- Are professional learning opportunities provided to teachers in regard to assessing students on Standard 8.0 criteria, especially in regard to assessing 8.2 design process skills?
- Do educators have the knowledge and resources to include exploratory activities throughout the day that include real and simulated situations that apply the design process and explore the relationship between various technologies and disciplines in society where the skills can be applied?
- Are educators supported to scaffold instruction for all levels of learners including using digital tools? If so how?
There are many tools to evaluate if digital environments are part of the curricula.16
- Is there evidence throughout the curriculum that student learning must go beyond the skills of recognition, fact gathering and recall?17 Is there a scaffolded, learner-directed school curriculum developed?18
- Are systems in place to ensure students meet the applicable Standard 8 requirements at the top of their grade span?
- Does the curriculum include effective infusion of technology into curricula and instruction?
- Is support provided to teachers for developing effective lessons, and increasing personal skills in how to facilitate student use of technology at levels above the teacher's technology skill level?
- Do teachers actively participate in Professional Learning Networks that are local, national and international?19
Michael Fullan says "Making digital devices available and helping teachers and students use them is the easy part—but it isn't pedagogy." TPACK website's says; "Effective technology integration for pedagogy around specific subject matter requires developing sensitivity to the dynamic, transactional relationships between these components of knowledge situated in unique contexts. Individual teachers, grade-level, school-specific factors, demographics, culture and other factors ensure that every situation is unique and no single combination of content, technology, and pedagogy will apply for every teacher, every course, or every view of teaching."
- Is there a process to determine if there are accessibility barriers to content (evaluation tools, discussions within professional learning communities, etc...) or that may prevent learners from demonstrating what they know?
- Do students with disabilities have their physical, academic and social needs addressed through technology?
- Is student engagement assessed during the learning process?
- If the technology was taken away, would the lesson's impact on students be different?
- Are opportunities available that allows students to collaborate with or through the technology with others in and out of the school walls?
- Do students have technology-based opportunities to create new knowledge or products (not recall)?
- Are students taught to use meta-cognitive strategies to effectively collect information?