Choosing new technology applications for your school is a difficult decision; especially since choosing the wrong ones can drain resources that are best utilized elsewhere. So how do you make sure you are making the right decision and maximizing your investment’s ROI?
Here are four important steps to take before you make any significant technology decisions for your school or district.
1. Set Your Goals
Before you purchase any software or new technology it’s vital to set real objectives. Maybe your main goal is to improve communication with parents. Maybe your objective is to create an environment that supports differentiated or personalized learning—allowing high achievers to move ahead while supporting other students who may fall behind. Your goal can even be something as simple as automating reporting procedures to give your educators more time with their students.
Also, while introducing new technology always poses challenges, incorporating it into the classroom can be particularly tricky. If a new purchase requires classroom integration, you’ll want to ask these specific questions according to gettingsmart.com:
- What will students be able to do?
- How long will it take for them to do it?
- At what percentage of proficiency will they be able to perform this task?
- How are they going to demonstrate that the objective was met?
Most importantly, for any technology purchase, make sure you answer the question: “Why do we need this?” Identify four-to-six concrete, tangible goals. If you can’t do that, then it’s likely you don’t need the application at all
2. Evaluate The Tools
Now that you’ve defined your need, you need to look at your options. The most obvious evaluation: does this application answer your “Why do we need this?” question. But that’s not the only criteria. For example, does the application work within your existing platform? An Apple-based product might not work within a Windows network.
You’ll want to make sure you are getting your technology team involved to help ensure the application is compatible within your current environment. You’ll also want to make sure your educators or administrators are up to the task of implementing the tools into their classrooms or their daily schedules. Which leads us to …
3. Align Professional Development With Your Goals
After purchasing the technology, do you have a plan to incorporate it into the school environment or classroom? You’ll want to set realistic time-lines for implementation, training and communication. Depending on the technology, this timeline may span two weeks, or an entire year.
Ask yourself questions like: what are our short term objectives and our long-term ones; who will train the staff in using the new technology; do we want to incorporate the application in steps, or all at once? For more complex tools, you may choose to implement the technology gradually. This can help curb resistance from those hesitant to embrace change, and ensure buy-in from the entire team.
Set aside time to explain the benefits of the new technology with your teachers and staff. Show them how this new tool can help achieve the goals you established at the start. You may also choose to do formative assessments once a month in the beginning, just to make sure everything is working as expected, and then transition those assessments to once a week until all the tools are working smoothly.
If you’re unsure what steps you need to take, ask other school districts that may have already incorporated the application. They may have sage advice on the processes you should implement to make your new technology successful.
4. Evaluate and Re-evaluate
Whenever you incorporate new technology, it’s important to continuously look at your progress. Are you meeting the objectives you hoped to meet? If not, are there new or different steps you can be taking?
According to ISTE.org, leaders need to continually assess how effectively the technology is applied at all levels. This includes regular evaluation of the technology itself, the extent the technology has impacted student assessment and achievement, if teachers are successfully applying the technology, and defining clear metrics to measure success.
Whether you are setting up new curriculum or new technology—if you aren’t doing the critical thinking, then you may end up failing. Single Path can work with you every step of the way so your investment is successful, from helping you determine the Why? to facilitating the fulfillment of those goals, mapping objectives, and even helping create a professional development plan.
There are plenty of application options out there. By working with a partner like Single Path, and taking these critical steps, you can ensure your technology choices are the right ones.