Developing A Comprehensive Technology Plan

Presented at MACUL '97 
Detroit, Michigan 
Friday, March 14, 1997 


Stephen Best 
University of Michigan 
1360 D School of Education Bldg. 
Ann Arbor, Michigan 48109 
Phone: (313) 764-3419 
Home Phone: (313) 327-0775 

This presentation is intended to present an understanding of the aspects of comprehensive planning for technology for K-12 schools. This approach of planning was used in the development of the "Plan for Technology Implementation" for the Montague Area Public Schools as well as a number of technology plans from schools around the country. 

"Comprehensive Planning" is a term that was first coined by urban planners in the late 1800's and early 1900's. It was used to describe a process of planning which is all encompassing - taking into consideration all possible considerations that could affect the eventual outcome, in that case, of the functioning of a city. Indeed, even the term comprehensive is based on the word "comprehend" which means "to fully understand." In keeping with this, comprehensive planning is a model for planning based on the notion that one is planning a complex system, with several elements that are dependent upon each other. 

Indeed, any form of planning for educational institutions should be based on this notion of planning for a complex, interdependent system. When a school plans for the implementation of technology, the school must recognize that this is not something that simply involves devising a budget or determining a preferred list of hardware and software (if it to be effective). Rather, the technology planning process for schools should incorporate all of the elements which will allow for the most beneficial use of the technology. It must be done with an underlying goal of improving the quality and value of student learning, and must recognize the factors which make that possible. 

Slide Notes and Commentary

Typical Approaches…

For the majority of schools that develop "technology plans" to address future use of technologies, the plan often only includes one or two of the above elements, rarely considering any factors actually tied to the purpose of schooling: student learning. Even more prevalent is the complete lack of a defining document or plan for the implementation of technologies in the schools. 

Comprehensive Plan Concerns

Steps in Planning Process

Step 1: Organize Planning Team

Often, such a planning team will simply be chosen from the school's or district's technology committee, if one exists. However, if such a team does not have parent, Board, or student representatives, it is recommended that such individuals be selected for the team. The team size can vary depending on the size of the school/district being planned for, though it is suggested that not less than seven people be on this team, and not more than twenty. It is also recommended that teachers or other staff act as leader for the group, in order to avoid a "top-down" atmosphere of decision making. Also, make sure to include individuals who are not as familiar with the technologies being planned for. These people can help in planning issues related to educating those unfamiliar with the technology in your district. 

Step 2: Prepare Planning Team

Try in particular to let teachers and other team members see businesses of various types that are using different technologies, in order to get a sense of how these things are being used in "the real world." 

Step 3: Assess Current Technology Situation

By "expectations" and "concerns," I mean both general expectations and concerns about the technologies themselves, and the thoughts of the role technologies will play in the educational process for the school and district. This will give a better sense of the team's attitudes about the possibility of achieving "success" in technology development. 

Step 4: Develop Guiding Documents

These documents should be used throughout the planning process as the guides for development, implementation, and evaluation of actions. Be careful of the wording/phrasing of these documents. Try to develop these as goals to strive for, rather than statements which merely describe the current educational process and outcomes. 

Step 5: Develop Long Term Plans

Long Term Plan Development

The final statement above is perhaps the most important of all. Technology presents us with different content and different ways of approaching the content material that were not possible (or at least very difficult) prior to the use of the technology. The plan should act to fundamentally change the way we learn and what we learn in schools. If it is used to apply technological solutions to old notions of content and teaching, the technology merely becomes a very expensive manipulative, and is very wasteful considering the limited funding we receive as educators. 

Elements of Technology Integration

Software acquisition was not listed on the slide - a mere oversight! There may be other elements which could be considered, though you may wish to think of technologies such as television and video or film as fitting in the software or hardware categories, as well as affecting all of the other elements in some form as well. 

Step 6: Implementation/Evaluation

Implementation and evaluation should compose a cyclical process. It is important to constantly re-evaluate the plan and assess how the implementation of the plan is going before further implementations occur. I recommend re-evaluation at least every 6 months. 

Methodology for Information Gathering

Technology Concerns

Summary of Recommendations
of the Montague Area Public Schools' 
Plan for Technology Implementation

The full text version of the plan, along with survey and inventory forms (in Acrobat format), can be found here. 

Copyright Policy

Teacher Training

Technology Leadership

Hardware/Facility Development

On-Line Services

Curricular Revision

Software Acquisition


There are a number of on-line sites, publications, and organizations which can be helpful in the development of a school or district technology plan. In addition to the brief list below, additional resources can be found at my Technology Planning for Education site. You can also contact me for any specific questions at the e-mail address or phone number below should you have any questions. I may not respond immediately, but I will respond! 


Phone: (313) 764-3419 or (313) 327-0775 


Plans and Policies for Technology in Education
from the Institute for the Transfer of Technology to Education. 
Copyright 1995 by the National School Boards Association. 
241pp. ISBN 0-88364-192-5 
This is a wonderful resource in examining the policies needed to create a comprehensive plan. It includes sections on several of the topics listed above and includes exemplary pieces of various district and building plans which have addressed these situations. If you want to see what others have done in the development of a technology plan, this is the resource to have! 

Technology Planning and Management Handbook: A Guide for School District Educational Technology Leaders, by Philip J. Brody. 
Copyright 1995 by Educational Technology Publications. 
178 pp. ISBN 0-87778-287-3 
This is a pretty good resource to help guide you through the process of developing a comprehensive technology plan. It includes several ideas and concerns which should be addressed in the planning process and has a number of forms and transparency masters for use in the planning process. 

Educator's Guide for Developing and Funding Educational Technology Solutions, Third Edition, by John Cradler and Ruthmary Cordon-Cradler. 
Copyright 1994 by Educational Support Systems 
155 pp. 
This has some good ideas for addressing funding problems involved in the implementation of the technology plan, including ideas and resources for grant writing.  

The Children's Machine - Rethinking School in the Age of the Computer, by Seymour Papert. 
Copyright 1993 by Basic Books. 
242 pp. ISBN 0-465-01063-6 
Okay, so this isn't really a resource in the planning process. It is, however, a great book to let you and your colleagues who will be creating the technology plan understand exactly what can be done with the technology and what types of goals one should set for using technology in our schools. 

Education and Technology: Future Visions
from the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment. 
Printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office in September 1995. 
163 pp. Report OTA-BP-HER-169 (U.S. Government Printing Office) 
I highly recommend this document. If you want to get a sense of what could be happening with the technology and understand the processes involved to get there, you will want to read this. Better yet, you can get this document free from the Wilson Library at Princeton (seeing as Congress, in their infinite wisdom, shut down OTA last year). I believe it is available both as a text document and in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format.  

Teachers and Technology: Making the Connection
from the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment. 
Printed by the U.S. Government Printing Office in April 1995. 
292 pp. Report OTA-EHR-616 (U.S. Government Printing Office) 
Same as the above document. This report is available on-line. This document tends to focus on teacher's use of technology and policies which would assist teachers in becoming more familiar with the technology. 

Guidebook for Developing an Effective Instructional Technology Plan, version 2.0
from the Graduate Students at Mississippi State University. 
This is a document I retrieved from the National Center for Technology Planning (see below) and was put together by Larry Anderson's students in his Seminar in Planning for Instructional Technology. It's a decent guidebook for assisting in the planning process. It's available in Acrobat file version. 


Technology & Learning, Published by Peter Li, Inc. 
Subscriptions available ($24/year or discounted through ISTE) from: 
Technology & Learning 
P.O. Box 49727 
Dayton, OH 45449 
Provides software reviews, grant information, ideas for classroom use, and general administrative concerns. 

Learning and Leading with Technology, Published by ISTE. 
Available with membership. Contact ISTE (listed below). 
This journal provides a number of useful activities for technology use in the classroom, grouped by subject area. There are also software reviews, issue and policy reports, and generally helpful information. 

Electronic Learning, Published by Scholastic, Inc. For subscriptions contact: 
Electronic Learning 
P.O. Box 5397 
Boulder, CO 80322. 
This is a pretty good journal for a number of general technology oriented issues, including grant information, innovative practices, and planning information. Plus, you can get it FREE through ISTE. 

MultiMedia Schools, Published by Information Today, Inc. 
Subscriptions available from: 
Information Today, Inc. 
143 Old Marlton Pike 
Medford, NJ 08055 
This is a decent, but expensive ($8/issue) journal. It has a lot of software and book reviews and some really good stories on innovative technology use. 


International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) 
1787 Agate Street 
Eugene, OR 97403 
Phone: (800) 336-5191 
FAX: (503) 346-5890 
This is a great organization to belong to! In addition to their journals, they have a wonderful "bookstore" and put on the National Educational Computing Conference. 

National Center for Technology Planning 
Drawer NU 
Mississippi State, MS 39762 
Phone: (601) 325-2281 
e-mail: (Larry Anderson, Director) 
This is definitely one of the better resources for technology planning for schools. A lot of their information is on-line as well at the Web site listed. They also have a number of building, district, state and national technology plans on-line. 

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development 
Curriculum/Technology Resource Center 
1250 N. Pitt St. 
Alexandria, VA 22314 
This is the leading professional organization for educational leaders and administrators. They have all sorts of information related to technology planning and technology related issues, as well as educational reform in general. 

Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) 
P.O. Box 850628 
Westland, MI 48185 
Phone: (313) 595-2493 
FAX (313) 595-2013 

National Center for Technology in Education (NCTE) 
610 W. 112th St. 
New York, NY 10025 

The Thornburg Center for Professional Development 
P.O. Box 1317 
Los Altos, CA 94023 
David Thornburg's "Think-Tank" devoted to professional development for educators related to use of technology. If you get a chance to hear him or his associates speak, do it! 

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