Getting The Vision Thing
If technology is to serve, rather than compete with, existing curriculaand school culture, vision should drive planning. However, the process of establishing an informed vision is messy, requiring an initial period of small, opportunistic incremental steps as faculty and staff develop savvy. Vision occurs on many levels: there's the overall vision for technology's role in the school and its communty, and there are the visions of individual teachers who know enough about technology to formulate ways they want to use it in their classrooms.
Individual visions are the substance behind the overall vision, and give it life. As teachers hold to their vision of what they want to see made possible, the technology planners must find ways to supports flexibility and, as Buckminster Fuller loved to say, ephemeralize: do more with less.
When the technology planning team schedules it's first extensive meeting to brainstorm a school technology vision, many group creativity processes can be helpful, such as those pioneered be Edwward deBono. Process models may seem unduly "encounter group-ish," but they can help members get active and gel, breaking through the barrier of who knows more than whom. In this way, the various visions and images within the members ofthe team can be bro ught together, and a wider range of possibilities andsolutions considered.
The Forest and the Trees
A working school technology vision and planning strategy should address both the management of resources and their pedagogic functions. Consult school technology planning guides to consider all relevant aspects. You ma yhave a beautiful vision of a forest, but as you get closer, the trees get in the way. Yet the trees are the components of the forest. Understanding that many of these issues mut be dealt with in their own time, here are some questions to consider as you develop a vision:
- What should technology-rich classrooms in the various disciplines look like (Science Labs, Multimedia Libraries, Design Studios, etc)?
- How will the presence of machines change patterns of space use and scheduling? (machines can cause carpal tunnel syndrome when poorly placed, they changethe look and feel of spaces, they break sometimes, and there are rarelyenough of them for all students who want access).
- How will the quality and significance of student work change when it becomes a group resource, and how will it be evaluated?
- How should the relationship between school and society change as they are linked electronically?
Once a working vision has been established that has begun to take these issues into account, enough context should exist to move from pilot projects to broader implementation - deciding what equipment to purchase, and putting it in place for specific purposes.