How many times have you thought about building something after seeing a video or picture of it on a social media site? I know for me it is almost a daily occurrence. I see someone build a table and I say to myself, “I can do that.” Watching the video or seeing the picture allows you to visualize yourself building the product and using it one day down the road. Most of the time, after you get started, you realize it’s more difficult than it looked on social media. There are more the details that are necessary. You’re lack of experience begins to play a role. There was planning that wasn’t captured in the video and/or picture that is vital for success. Then it hits you, “I think I’m in over my head.”
While having lunch with some colleagues recently, we were discussing the integration of technology in schools. It seems many districts today are purchasing technology and worrying about planning on how to use it after they have the technology. The focus needs to be the other way around. You can’t go into it like I did when I thought I could build the table as mentioned above. There are 5 factors that must be present to lead technology integration in an organization:
- Have a Plan Not Centered on Technology
This may sound counterproductive. Your plan can include the use of technology, but it needs to be focused on the broader scope of the organization. Your use of technology should be a road on your overall journey. The technology is just a tool, it shouldn’t be your organization’s vision.
- Open Discussions About Putting the Proper Infrastructure in Place
After the district’s or building’s vision is established and there is a need for technology to be a part of it, make sure the appropriate parties (technology department, members of the faculty, district administrators, students, community members) provide input regarding what infrastructure is actually needed. The technology will not be a resource for students and staff if they do not have the capabilities to use it effectively.
- Provide Support for the Technology
The end user needs to be able to use the tool. If they can’t use the tools, you will not grow. In schools, the staff needs to be given professional development so they are confident using the resource with students. If you expect staff members to use resources for to assist in student growth, you need to provide them with the necessary training so they can determine if using the resources will bolster their instruction.
- Communicate Expectations
The leader of the organization needs to always remember: do not let the technology guide the learning, let the learning guide the technology resources to use. That statement needs to be embedded in the culture of the district and/or building. Remember, if the overall vision for your organization is growth, there are many different resources staff members can use to obtain growth. If the technology you are implementing happens to be a part of it, so be it. If it doesn’t, but there is still growth, that is good too. The staff, students, and community need to recognize the focus is on growth and how we get there (even if we have shiny tools to help us) is not the overall vision of our district and/or building.
- Be a Leader
In schools, do not let the tool and/or resource run the building, let learning run the building. Culture starts with the district and building leadership. The leadership needs to focus on the overall goal, communicate to the staff the expectations for the goals, and model how to reach the goal for the staff and students. If you are implementing a technology resource in your district or building, build a foundation for the technology to be implementing and used successfully. Create and sustain a culture where change and failure are welcomed. This type of culture will help you as a leader implement new initiatives down the road and help staff with their transition.
Implementing technology in an organization is like anything else: you need to have a need and have a plan. Don’t do it just to say you did it. Focus on the vision and mission of the organization and then decide if implementing technology tools is what you need to reach your goals.