Critique of the CTL: Education Technology Planning Guide

As usual, I am cranking through my weekly posts for EDUC-8813… and posting them to my blog after dropping them in Blackboard…

Wagner’s critique of the California Commission on Technology and Learning (CTL) Education Technology Planning Guide for School Districts

1. Brief description of site.

This site is not very interactive as web sites go, but it has served as a sort of bible for me over the past several years, and the content provided would be relevant even to those organizations outside of California that are implementing, preparing, or considering the Educational Technology Planning process. (I think I have mentioned this site once in this class already.) This page simply describes the Education Technology Planning Guide, offers a link to the complete guide as a single pdf (which is how I usually access it), and provides an outline of the guide complete with links to pdf versions of each section.

Major sections of the plan include an overview of the technology planning process, plan components, suggested action steps and guiding questions (perhaps the the mostly widely relevant content), an educational technology planning toolkit, a variety of appendixes, and a glossary of works cited. (This last section is one that I never gave much thought as a practitioner, but which I was excited about now as an academic… only to find that the only works cited are the California State Content Standards!)

2. One specific example of what the site offers
(& Why I find the site useful)

It is in the section on Suggested Action Steps and Guiding Questions that the guide most clearly delineates the five primary components of a tech plan and “identifies the specific issues to be addressed under each plan component.” The five components have often served as a mental checklist for me when managing educational technology projects. A plan must be grounded in the Curriculum needs, must be supported by Professional Development, and it must include the necessary Infrastructure, Hardware, Technical Support, and Software to make these two things possible. In addition it must consider Funding and Budget and must of course provide means for Monitoring and Evaluation.

Within a specific component, such as Curriculum, you will find guidelines and questions for a Needs and Resource Assessment, Goals, and Monitoring and Evaluation. (Note that each component of the plan includes a monitoring and evaluation subsection… and there is a separate Monitoring and Evaluation component as well. It does get a bit reflexive.)

At any rate, within one of these sections, such a Goals (under Needs and Resource Assessment), technology planners can find excellent guidelines, such as “Assess the school district’s current use of hardware and software to support teaching and learning”, followed by a series of questions, such as “How many information literacy skills are being taught and at what grade levels?” These guidelines and questions can help ensure that technology planners are not ignoring important aspects of a technology plan, and can help focus data gathering and discussion, especially during the early stages of a technology planning.

This has been a valuable resource for me at all levels (site, district, and county) and at various stages in the tech planning process, even within specific smaller projects. It helps ensure that the focus is always on curricular goals, and that both the curriculum and professional development come before any consideration of equipment. Finally, of course, the reminder to establish systems to monitor and evaluate whatever program is being planned is always valuable… and is surprisingly often a necessary reminder.

I hope that many of you will skim the guide and that it might prove useful to some of you.