Whether you're a new or an experienced school administrator, stepping into the world of ed tech decision-making can be daunting. Administrators are often called on to meet with the IT department, computer science teachers and product vendors to discuss ed tech initiatives and devices.
"When administrators don't have a clear vision and don't understand the terminology, they make poor decisions or let others make decisions for them. Then you have technology that goes nowhere,” says Jen LaMaster, assistant principal at Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School in Indianapolis. “With a vision in place, administrators can more easily filter and focus what they are hearing.”
She suggests administrators take the following steps before discussing ed tech or making decisions about purchasing technology.
Have a vision for what you are trying to achieve. Make sure you understand the ISTE Essential Conditions, 14 critical elements necessary to effectively leverage technology for learning. They offer educators and school leaders a research-backed framework to guide implementation of the ISTE Standards, tech planning and systemwide change.
Experience the ideas. Before making purchases, establish a pilot program that allows one or two "high flyer" teachers to try out the technology you're considering. A few key staffers, and even administrators themselves, should experience the products your considering.
Take time for reflection and feedback. With a pilot under your belt, take time to gather feedback and reflect on how the initiative went. Did the technology enhance learning? Did it work with the technology infrastructure you have in place?
Go broader. If the tech initiative met with success, scale it for widespread use. Be sure to evaluate the program again after six months or a year. After all, evaluation shouldn't end the day a product is purchased.
"You are the steward of your district's money,” LaMaster says. “When you have a vision, you can ask more focused questions and explain what your students or teachers need, and what they don't."