Time to End the Tech Plan?

Posted by Bob Blackney on September 27, 2010

Oh dread. It is time again to rewrite our district technology plan. Contemplating this Sisyphean task got me thinking about where the requirement for a technology use plan came from and how can we improve it?

I did an Internet search for school technology plans to see what I could find. The oldest plan that I could find is a technology plan from September 1982 from a district in Salt Lake City. Interestingly, it was a 12-year plan for the small school district that totaled 412 words. Juxtapose that with the nearly 300 pages of our district’s last technology plan! It makes me wonder if all the energy we’ll spend rewriting it will pay off.

Sure, thirty years ago when the first computers started appearing on the steps of the schoolhouse, we desperately needed a plan for what to do with them. That was a good idea!

Fast-forward to 2010 and technology is so integrated into everything we do that it is nearly impossible to find an activity that has not been impacted by it. Instead of “How do we use this?” I’m far more likely to hear, “Why can’t I get this online?”

We are awash in a digital tidal wave. Like the music and printing industries, education is quickly moving to being completely digital. Instead of planning how to use technology, we are more likely to look for an electronic solution as our first alternative.

At this point, it makes little sense to write a detailed, three-year technology plan that is separate from every other planning document that a school district writes. What we need is a brief description that easily communicates the district’s direction to the stakeholders. Leave out the massive details that change before the plan can even get through the approval process. Forget the budget section that attempts to project expenses five years out when the Legislature hasn’t even passed a budget for this year! We need a simple plan that is integrated with other district planning documents and is revisited often—not once every three years.


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Bob Blackney

Bob Blackney is currently Director of Technology at Azusa Unified School District. He has worked for over 35 years to build his understanding of how to use technology to improve education, and sees it as an essential element of learning in the 21st century—if used correctly.

3 thoughts on “Time to End the Tech Plan?”

  1. I have always been amazed that we have adopted this notion of a need for a “x” year plan. Growing up in the 60’s I remember the adults making jokes about the Soviet Union and their “5 year plan”, which were revised on a yearly or even monthly basis.
    Even though we saw this model fail time and again, we continue to try to make it work. These plans continue to prove the definition of insanity-doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

  2. I agree with Bob’s thoughts here (surprise, surprise!) and only wish that the Erate folks (USAC) and the EETT folks (CA and Fed education) would agree as well. We can not qualify for either of these funding sources without a 3 year plan in place….but maybe we create a 450 word plan instead. Great idea! See our recently adopted, 76 page, three year TUP from our web site: http://www.pvusd.net/Departments/Business_Services/technology/tcip/index.html

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