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Live from NCCE: Crafting an Effective Tech. Plan

Yesterday I sat in on a session at NCCE, the ed. tech conference happening here in Portland, where a board member, community member, and teacher in the 10,300-student Bellingham School District in Washington state explained the process of revising the district's technology plan from each one's own unique perspective.

James Everett, who is now a teacher and assistant principal at Meridian High School in the neighboring Meridian school district, spent his last year as a teacher in the Bellingham school district. Everett was part of a group in the district charged with revisiting the previous plan, put into place in 2007, and bringing it up to date. Michael Jay, a community member in the district, also worked with Everett to assemble a team of community experts to tackle the project.

One issue the tech. plan committee wanted to address was building accountability into the plan. Although the previous plan was well-intentioned, it did not put the responsibility of carrying it out onto anyone except the district technology administrator, who was so burdened with other responsibilities that it quickly fell to the wayside. In addition, that year, the district's technology administrator was eliminated due to budget cuts. With that in mind, the revised plan called for a steering committee to be created that would hold monthly meetings to make sure the plan was being implemented.

One of the key factors to a successful revision of the tech. plan was bringing in diverse perspectives, said Everett and Jay. For instance, the team was able to contact Karen Cator, the director of the Office of Education Technology for the U.S. Department of Education, to offer insight on the national ed-tech landscape and help to tie together some of the issues pinpointed in the previous plan.

Although the plan was adopted by the school board and implemented last year, it has not made quite as much of an impact as they had hoped, Everett and Jay said. Perceived inequalities about the level of technology in each classroom still exist, as does the challenge to show the change—if any—that has resulted from the plan. However, those involved with the revision learned much about the process of revising and bringing up-to-date a district technology plan, they said.

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