Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)
Program Technology Planning Process Guide
Identify your technology strengths
Review your Program
Set new and revised goals for your program
Determine how technology can help satisfy those goals
Determine how you will implement the technology
Determine your budget
(Evaluation) Determine what constitutes success
Plan for the next phase
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education provides primarily state funds to ABE programs to assist educators in making more strategic and effective use of current and emerging technologies. Upon approval of your program technology plan, the funds help pay for a technology coordinator for each eligible agency and for hardware, software, networking, training and support that will enable programs to be more state-of-the-art and also connect to the System for Managing Accountability and Results Through Technology (SMARTT). This system is currently being developed for programs to submit comprehensive error-free statistical data on performance directly to the Department via the Internet.
Technology planning is a process that assists program directors in making more strategic and effective use of current and emerging technology including purchasing decisions, improving their use of technology, and utilizing resources more efficiently. To make planning successful, there must be an organizational commitment to the technology plan and the planning process itself. If a program does not have a plan for implementing technology it is doubtful that technology will be used effectively. As you develop your plan keep in mind that you are planning for the future and not the past and that your technology plan may be used as a factor in determining the distribution of future technology funds. A good technology plan greatly increases your ability to use powerful tools wisely and effectively.
Each program must have a person designated as the technology coordinator. The technology coordinator is responsible for providing support and guidance in your program"s technology efforts/initiatives. The program technology coordinator can call on the regional SABES field technologist for help. Each program will identify a diversified team that will take on the responsibility of creating, monitoring and periodically reviewing and revising the required technology plan for the program. If your program is comprised of more than one site, each site must be clearly identified in the program"s technology plan and have a representative on the program team. You should also determine how the team will function before the time comes to make and carry out decisions.
The Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education will review your plan, and those that are approved will be eligible for any new funding that will be made in the future.
The plan itself should include the following catagories:
* Identify your technology strengths!
Develop an inventory of your existing hardware and software by type and include answers to the following questions. What type and models of electronic equipment am I using (Examples: TVs, video equipment, computers, cameras)? Is this equipment stand-alone or networked. Am I connected to the Internet via a modem or high-speed line like (digital subscriber line (DSL) or Integrated Services Digital Network (I.S.D.N.) or higher speed? What releases of computer software programs do I have and use?
Review and evaluate the current technology literacy of the staff. Has the staff used technology in their administration, teaching, at home or other capacity. What types of technology have they used and to what extent do they feel comfortable?
Review and evaluate the current technology literacy of your students. Have these students used technology in their administration, other classrooms, at home or other capacity. What types of technology have they used and to what extent do they feel comfortable?
Now that you have a good idea of where you are in the use of technology today, you need to shift focus on how you feel about how your program is doing over all and what it needs to accomplish in the future.
* Review your program!
Review program goals you previously established for your program. Did you meet those goals? Where are/were the shortcomings if any. If you change the way you are doing things can you improve the quantity and quality of your program? Can improvement be made in teaching practices and tools? Can you identify how to help the learner learn more, and more quickly by providing materials that address how each student learns?
* Set new and revised goals for your program.
Determine what your program hopes to accomplish. Do you want to accommodate more students? Do you want to develop a better curriculum? Do you want to establish more classes? Do you want to present a more enjoyable way of teaching for the teachers and learning for the learners?
Once your goals for the program are identified you need to determine how you can best meet those goals.
* Determine how technology can help you satisfy those goals.
Identify and stay abreast of what technology is available that can help your program. How will you accomplish that? Will you need to attend seminars and computer shows? Subscribe to computer magazines? You should not rely on the ESE to supply general computer information. This is why you have a technical coordinator. This coordinator must have general computer knowledge and be at a skill level to help your Program with your technology efforts. (See Technology Coordinator Skill Sets for help.)
Identify several alternative solutions. Brainstorm solutions to satisfy your goals. Include your technology coordinator. Determine where a technological solution would be the best solution. Consulting with other Programs, utilizing in kind support such as advisory board members, business partners, institutions, attending computer seminars, checking out computer stores, reading computer magazines are some ways to get ideas. Networking several computers together (e.g., through a "local area network"), connecting to the Internet via modem, DSL, T1 or other means, WebTV, video conferencing, utilizing computer learning programs are some technology solutions you may consider.
Group your technological solutions. List what types of technology are needed. (Administrative, Teaching, Learning) List specific solutions. (Word processing, Spread Sheets, Database, Project Planning and Internet.)
* Determine how you will implement the technology.
Determine required resources. Will you need to add staff? Staff with specific talents? Where will the funds come from? Any purchasing issues? Are there any timing constraints? What are the staff training issues? How are you going to maintain your hardware and software and troubleshoot problems? Do you have service contracts (preferably on-site) for your technology purchases?
Develop a time line. What needs to happen when? Are there any prerequisites? Who will do what? Who will lead and be responsible for the implementation? How will you know when a task is considered complete?
* Determine your Budget.
Determine the cost of your technology plan. What is the cost of equipment, any additional staff, software programs, video equipment, training, Internet and miscellaneous supplies. Everything cannot be implemented at one time. Break down your plan into phases. Know where you"re heading, build your base and phase in new technology to enhance that base and accomplish your long term goals.
What do you want to accomplish in six months, two years? Also remember new technology emerges very quickly. [For example: a local area network might be a better solution than a bunch of stand-alone computers; you might buy a server this year instead of adding another 2 or 3 computers to the couple you already have; this builds the base/infrastructure so that current and future resources/purchases can be used more effectively.] We suggest you consider a high-speed connection to the Internet via DSL or I.S.D.N. for multiple connected PCs and to access the SMARTT reporting system.
Determine the source of Funding. Where will you get the funds to cover the costs of your technology plan?
Balance the Budget. Make any modifications to the implementation plan that is required.
* (Evaluation) Determine what constitutes success
Establish technology evaluation criteria. How will you determine level of success? Will you set up periodic technology review meetings.
* Plan for the next phase
- Identify your technology strengths!
- Review your program
- Set new andd revised goals for your program
- Determine how technology can help satisfy those goals
- Determine how you will implement the technology
- Determine your Budget
- (Evaluation) Determine what constitutes success
- Plan for the Next Phase