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3 Things to Consider Before Upgrading Your K-12 School's Technology

As the age of technology marches on through the 21st century, it has changed the face of education and created new ways to both teach and learn. Technology integration in the classroom is a major initiative to develop technological literacy in K-12 students in order to prepare them for life beyond school.

Most K-12 teachers have had toembrace new instructional methodologies that incorporate technology, even as their students--already immersed in various forms of digital technology--are eager to engage in this relatively new way of learning.

Yet, Dr. Jamie McKenzie, long-time educator and editor of From Now On - The Educational Technology Journalwarns his fellow educators to consider carefully the purpose of upgrading and integrating technology. He uses the term "toolishness" to describe the foolishness of "planning and installing networks and computers before clarifying educational purpose and how these tools might be used." In other words, teachers and students don't need to have access to and use every available technological tool on the market unless it serves a real purpose towards meeting learning objectives and improving outcomes.

3 Considerations Before Upgrading and Integrating Technology

Teachers should keep several things in mind before upgrading and integrating technology in their K-12 classroom, Here are three primary considerations:

  1. Develop and implement a plan. As Dr. McKenzie emphasized, it does no good for a school district to simply purchase large quantities of equipment to upgrade technology in the district's schools if there is no plan in place defining the purpose for the integration of those tools. The administrator and faculty members within each individual school must first develop a plan for technology integration that clearly defines how each tool, whether laptops or handheld devices or any other form of technology, will help students meet designated learning objectives and improve expected outcomes. Only then should they implement the established plan to upgrade and integrate approved forms of technology in the classroom.

  2. Work with, not against, the school's budget. Jim Johnson, former K-12 educator and current Director of Instructional and Information Technology Service at Indiana State University, is all for upgrading and integrating technology at the K-12 level...as long as school budgets can sustain the financial burden. An alternative, he suggested, is to encourage the implementation of Bring Your Own Device, commonly known as BYOD. Johnson stated, "Instead of using the school budget to buy technology, they should say, ‘You have a laptop, you have an iPad, we'll integrate you in.'" Doing so, Johnson suggested, engages students in using technological skills they already have, but channels them more directly toward meeting learning objectives. Johnson emphasized, "You've got to have good teaching and use instructional time effectively. You need creative, engaging lessons that use technology so that the students are active participants in learning."

  3. Align with common core standards. One change in common core standards in the 21st century, due to such federal initiatives as No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top, is an increased demand for students to achieve technological literacy. To accomplish this, schools and teachers must upgrade and integrate technology in the classroom. Rebecca Rinehart, director of technology for Indiana's Greenwood Community Schools, stated that their schools needed "more technology and digital content in the curriculum" and federal stimulus resources funded a much needed upgrade that "led to enhanced technology offerings." For example, according to the district's Director of Schools, Dr. Dale Lynch, some of the enhanced technology allowed them to more fully align with their state's common core standards that "call for students to use digital tools and the Internet to produce and publish writing and to interact with peers."

So should you and your school upgrade and integrate technology? Absolutely! Just make sure that you avoid "toolishness" by developing and implementing a plan, working with and not against your school's budget, and aligning with common core standards.