"What's the Plan, Stan?": Planning for Technology

In a recent blog post, Scott McLeod asked "15 questions to ask about the technology leadership in your school district." Many of his questions got me thinking about how we plan for technology in our schools and in our districts. Many of the questions of leadership can be solved through good planning. (you can read my response to his blog post about this, too) With good planning, questions of roles and responsibilities can be easily solved. So can problems with hardware-to-faculty or hardware-to-student ratios or whether technology is being used effectively to engage and instruct students.

With all the talk of Glogster recently, I decided to create a visual depiction of the planning process. There are 7 main steps to good technology planning:

1.) Create a team: Make sure the team consists of members of all stakeholders (parents, community members, teachers, administrators....)

2.) Assign roles: Describe the roles and responsibilities of all team members.

3.) Complete a Needs Assessment: Conduct surveys, conversations, observations to assess what your school/students/staff need to increase effective use of technology to promote teaching and learning.

4.) Set measurable goals based on the Needs Assessment: Once you know what the needs are, set a few realistic, measurable goals (goals with a timeline and with a way to measure effectiveness or success- i.e. test scores, observed behaviors...).

5.) Plan for tracking and monitoring of goals: Make sure that one of the team members is assigned to monitor the progress of each goal.

6.) Collect data: Have each team member collect measurable data about their goal for future use.

7.) Assess goals, revise, revisit and rewrite: Once your goals' time period have passed, look back on whether they were effective. Keep good initiatives going, revise ones that were fairly successful but need some changes and scratch those that were not effective.

This cycle starts again at #3 (Needs Assessment). It is up to your school or district to decide how often you will go through this cycle. Usually it is from every 2-3 years.

Make sure you include a budget and budgetary concerns in the plan and that funding of the Technology Plan mirrors the school or district's budget plan.

Please feel free to comment or add anything I may have left out!

Link to the full-size Glogster image

Technology Planning resources:

National Center for Technology Planning

Guiding Questions for Technology Planning

Looking for your state's plan? Just do a search for : "my state technology plan" and it should come up. These plans are public and should be available for viewing.


  • I liked your post. Planning for technology is one of those things that is necessary but extremely hard to do.

    Here are a few of the things I've observed at a building or district level to look for while planning:

    -your decisions are effected by hardware and software. If Microsoft or Apple change something, will it spoil your plan? Can we upgrade to Windows7 if 40% of the district computers can't run it yet?

    -time isn't on your side. Waiting a few months to decide on a new piece of software will probably require you to take another look at what's out there because so much changes so fast.

    -you will regret, on some level, almost any decision you make. There will always be something bigger or better out there, and it usually gets released to ginormous fanfare the day after you announce your decision.

    -standardizing technology is impossible if you want to keep up with the times. My district wanted to standardize all of their digital cameras a few years ago and bought cases of Sony Mavica cameras with the floppy drives in them. Ok - we've still got probably 20 brand new ones... will never get used because they're outdated and the district is buying a better (and cheaper) models.

    -minimum replacement schedules should be built into the budget ahead of anything that can be cut. Getting a year behind in a replacement cycle will render a ton of technology practically useless for a few years until you (maybe) get caught up. Cut extra purchases if needed... but don't fall behind.

    -often the people in the school don't know what they want or need for technology. Even the teachers who think they know often haven't thought about alternative ways of doing things that could be better. Remember, most people don't have time to research technology things and fall prey to strong marketing techniques (which we all know *can* be deceiving).

    -Make your plan as flexible as possible while still being firm. Don't be specific about the model numbers or versions unless they are necessary - be specific about the outcomes / goals.

    I never liked the whole structured thing that you talked about (I was never given a fun responsibility :-) ) but, in most cases, a formal structure will yield the best results. Good post - it really got me thinking.

  • Mary Beth,
    Love the visual (Glogster) for creating a tech plan. I hope you'll go back and add links to your glog. Most teachers aren't aware of their state's plan. It should be required reading for eveyone, including parents. Maybe parents would then start demanding more teachers get onboard with technology.

  • Glad it got you thinking, Ryan. You make some really great points. Technology changes every few months and it's hard, with the vendor issue, to buy what makes sense rather than what you're 'allowed' to buy based on contracts you didn't negotiate.

    It is definitely important to remember to plan for technology replacement and repair, too.


    That was my first real Glogster project, and I definitely have some learning to do. I missed the Elluminate session on it last weekend :( Thanks for the tip about linking in the Glog!

    Thanks for reading guys!

    Mary Beth

  • Every year Texas teachers are required by their school districts to complete a survey called the School Technology and Readiness (STAR)chart. It is touted as a tool for teachers to plan and assess their alignment to the Texas olong range technology integration plan.

    I have participated in this survey for the past four years. It consists of a series of forced-field questions. You know, the kind that you don't really agree with any of the responses, but have to choose or you cannot move on in the survey.

    Every year I respond as accurately as possible. I noticed though that the choices actuall tilt positively for the school district. They leave no room for answering with a "yeah, but," response.

    If you want to take a look at the site, go to http://starchart.esc12.net/. Every time I complete the survey I feel as if I am cheating. Go figure.

    I invite you to visit my blog at


  • Dale,

    I have done the STAR assessment before! I agree that it is can be a misleading assessment. I will have to take it again. I will definitely check out your blog.


    Mary Beth

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