The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has created a set of Essential Conditions as a tool for educators and leaders to analyze the ways they and their institutions are leveraging technology in education. They provide an online tool that allows you to look closely at how, to the best of your knowledge, your institution is meeting those Essential Conditions.
The last active technology plan expired in 2015, so my survey input and analysis comes partially from what is expressed in that six year old plan and partially from my own impressions of the use and support of technology for education in my day-to-day experience. The state of Vermont has no longer has an active mandate for the creation of a technology plan, but they suggest that creation of a digital learning plan is valuable and that core elements of digital learning could find a place in the required Continuous Improvement Plan. Unfortunately, this makes it unlikely that a deep, district-wide conversation about technology in education will be prioritized unless it somehow becomes urgent. The results from my completion of the ISTE Essential Conditions survey are below:
In looking at this data, a few things jump out immediately:
- Bright spots: Access, Policies, and Funding
- Challenges: Community Engagement, Empowered Leaders, Shared Vision
It is true that access and funding are bright spots. We have a district technology department that supplies and maintains 1-1 devices for all upper grade (3-6) classrooms, and a regular replacement schedule for devices. We have robust, yet not overly restrictive policies for technology use.
I was very surprised to see that, based on my survey data, we are meeting the condition of ongoing professional learning. I think, perhaps, I was not specific to technology in my thinking when answering survey questions, as my district has excellent, supportive professional development policies. However, as a district we do not offer any ongoing professional development specific to the technologies that are provided to our teachers. To me, this is also where there is a bit of a leadership vacuum. There is no longer a district-wide technology integration committee, and there are not tech integrationists working in all school buildings. As a district staff, we aren’t talking about how we are using technology in teaching and learning. Without those conversations, it becomes challenging to engage the community and build a shared vision.
However, this challenge also represents an opportunity. If we were to integrate elements of a digital learning plan into our state-mandated Continuous Improvement Plan, we have the opportunity to begin a conversation about technology and learning among our educators. We could draft a goal that related directly to professional learning and fostering conversations among professional staff about their use of technology to support and empower our learners.