Like just about every other facet of contemporary life, technology has woven itself into the fabric of today’s New York State public school districts from instruction and courseware to daily operations including safety and security.
As such, we must recognize the need for a more strategic approach to the design and implementation of technology systems and related infrastructure in today’s K12 educational facilities.
Failure to do so will result in wasted resources and disappointing attempts to integrate technology into modern day classes and curriculum.
One primary issue of concern is the lack of understanding regarding the “infrastructure” needed to reliably support technology. Without a sound and robust underlying infrastructure of structured cabling, pathways and spaces, attempts to incorporate technology into today’s schools are destined for failure. This is as applicable to design teams that simply throw some cables and conduits on a drawing and call it a “technology design” as it is to service providers that “upgrade” the network without first considering the necessary supporting infrastructure.
The issue is based on poor communications, not bad intentions; the IT and Construction/Facilities industries speak different languages.
An important step towards a solution is to develop a Comprehensive Technology Plan (CTP) that takes a holistic view of how to bridge the gap between the district’s current technology conditions and its longer range goals. Some of the items that need to be addressed in a CTP include:
- All district planning activities including Instructional Technology Plans (ITPs), mission statement and goals, BOCES contracts, and capital projects.
- Instructional (student computing devices, whiteboards, projectors) and non-instructional (security, data communications, PA, etc.) technology systems.
- Cable plant and network infrastructure needs to support today’s technology systems.
- Funding Sources over a 10 year timeframe.
- Technology refresh rates and related budgets.
- Professional development of the teachers who will use the technology in the classroom and the IT staff supporting it.
- Actions Plans by both academic year and district goal.
The graphic above shows the relationship between a district’s CTP and related elements including ITPs, Technology Conditions Surveys, and Funding plans.
Has your district developed a Comprehensive Technology Plan?
If so, please share your comments and experience. If not, here are some resources that might help you get started.