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Developing Technology Plans

Page history last edited by jcouchma@... 5 years, 4 months ago

Developing Technology Plans



Developing Effective Technology Plans


Effective technology plans are short term, not long term. Five year plans are too long. Technology is changing so fast that it is almost impossible to plan what type of technology will be available for use five years from now. Even one year plans may now be about as far ahead as effective planning for purchases of certain types or brands of equipment can take place.

If a long-term plan is derived, tie it to the district's budget cycle. Pull the plan out every year during the budget process and review it to make sure the plan has not tied your school into buying outdated equipment. Do not let a technology plan lock you into old technology and applications just because it says so in the plan. Newer, more powerful, lower cost technology may be available to replace what is specified in a five year old plan.


Effective technology plans focus on applications, not technology. In other words, make your technology plan outcome-based, not input-based. Develop a plan that specifies what students, staff, and administration should be able to do with technology and let those outcomes determine the types and amount of technology your plan requests.

Many technology plans are based on numbers of machines...input. Typically, technology committees go before school boards asking for a computer lab, or computers for classrooms. The first question board members will ask is, "Why do you need them?" Why not answer that question in the plan? It may be better to go to a school board saying, "This is what we want our students to be able to do"...output. then, specify what technology is needed in order to accomplish the plan's outcomes and goals.

This approach also helps answer the debate over which brand names to purchase. This argument over what brand of computer to use in schools is really not important. Computers are just boxes with brand names on them. They all do the same things. If people can drive a Ford, then they can drive a Chevy. And, if students can write on Brand X computer, then they can also write on Brand Y. Do students who get finished with formal education say, "I can't write with this pen because I learned how to write with a pencil?" The real question always must be, "what applications of technology are available that will help our students, staff, and administration work smarter, not harder?" The common, transferable, technical applications that all computers perform is the important issue. Still, some machines perform certain applications better than others. Buy the machines that do best, that which needs to be done.


Effective technology plans go beyond enhancing the curriculum. Don't buy technology to teach about technology. Do schools really need to spend $30,000 to $50,000 to put in a computer lab that enhances the curriculum? All teachers can enhance the curriculum with a $20 filmstrip. Educators better be able to do more than enhance existing instruction with new, powerful types of instructional technology. Do schools really need to spend $30,000 to $50,000 for a computer lab in order to teach computer literacy? do teachers really want to spend thousands of dollars for machines that will only be used for keyboarding? Keyboarding is a basic skill now, but it is a temporary one at best. Spending thousands of dollars to teach about technology at the expense of using technology for more powerful tasks seems to be a waste of money. And, what ever happened to the old typewriters? Don't they have a keyboard?


Effective technology plans define technology as more than computers. Many technology plans only deal with computers. There are many other types of technology available which have appropriate uses in education. Include as many types of technology in a plan as possible. for example, television production is one type of application which doesn't get much attention in many schools. Teachers need to understand that learning to read and write video is as important as learning to read and write English. Kids today get, and will increasingly get, information from a video screen. Learning the grammar of video production is the next basic skill after learning to read and write.

Television production is much more than giving kids a camera and shooting pictures. done correctly, students involved in video production become involved in cooperative grouping, teamwork, planning, research, writing, visual literacy activities, and many higher order thinking activities. In fact, it is a basic information skill students must understand if they are going to deal effectively with information in the future.


So, why doesn't education use this technology to its full potential? Maybe it's because some teachers still believe they have to get to the end of the text and there isn't enough time for this fun learning activity. Or, maybe it's because our society is so visually literate. We are all used to seeing the finished products of CBS, ABC, or NBC. They use the right video grammar. When kids turn in a video project, many teachers look at it with professional standards in mind and say, "What a piece of junk . Was it really worth all the time the kids put into this product?" What everyone really needs to remember is what our first attempts at writing the letter "A" looked like. Then, put early attempts at video production into the same light.


Effective technology plan stress integration of technology into the curriculum. Effective technology plans help teachers answer the question, "What do I have to stop teaching to teach about the computer?" The answer to that question is, "What are you teaching now that you can teach more effectively and efficiently with this tool?" And the answer applies to all curriculum areas. It is not effective to buy technology to teach about technology. Wasn't it Seymour Papert that said, "Do we have classes called 'pencil'?" Then why do we have classes called "computer literacy?" It is not effective to teach about technology in isolation from other subject areas. Technical applications must be taught as part of an existing subject so students understand how technology can be a tool that makes them a more productive and powerful person in any subject area.

Take writing for example. To me, it's a five-step creative process. What technical applications are there that help students with this process? Well, word processing fits in at every step. Desktop publishing fits perfectly in the presentation, or final step of the process. It is time to stop teaching word processing as a separate curriculum and teach it as part of the creative writing process which can be used in every subject area. The list of these types of applications for technology goes on and on and on.

It is also important not to develop technology learner outcomes in isolation from other subject areas. Technology outcomes must be included in every subject's curriculum revision cycle. It does not make sense to have the technology people develop their subject outcomes in isolation and then expect every other subject area to integrate those outcomes. It must be a cooperative joint effort.


Effective technology plans are tied to staff development plans. Technology plans that are not tied to long-term staff development are destined for failure.




The Manager's Resource Handbook



Is Your Training Plan Being Cut Year After Year?  Read On…


It’s a battle out there, folks.  Between a fragile economy, steep competition, and the rising costs of business, its understandable that the first form of cost cutting comes in what is known as discretionary spend.  If you think you’re the only manager whose budget for training and employee development is routinely cut, if not eliminated entirely, think again.  Many managers suffer the same fate every year; despite having included it in the financial plan, the means by which you send employees to training or take a class yourself are quickly removed from your budget .

Before I get into how to justify and request training – for both you and your employees – let’s look a little more closely at the basic makeup of a budget so that you can understand why the cost of training is so commonly flagged as a prime candidate for cost control.

The Basics of Budgets

Most budgets consist of 3 basic chunks of money:

People: As implied, the main portion of your budget usually goes towards employee compensation.  Once you add up all of the salaries of your employees, there will be an added value on top of that (anywhere from 20% – 50% of salaries) representing benefits, like healthcare.  People represent a major expense to a business, which is why your staffing budget and headcount are always sensitive topics.

RELATED: Creating a Justification for Additional Headcount 

Allocations: The second key component of a budget is known as an allocation. An allocation is a fancy accounting word for what I call a “tax.”  Allocations are a general charge you pay for out of your budget when you are a cost center.  Depending on your company, the allocation amount could include things from paying a small portion of your CEO’s salary, to paying for electricity and general expenses of the office.  Allocations usually come in the form of a fixed amount of money that is deducted from your budget each month.

ExpensesFinally, expenses (more formally known as discretionary spend), are the portion of your budget out of which you pay for everything else.  Unlike preplanned costs for people and allocations, expenses are essentially “pay as you go.”  Said differently, discretionary spend can be seen as money leaving the company.  Expenses include things like travel, meals for working meetings, office supplies, and of course, training.  Thus, to control costs in a business, you will typically start by reducing your expenses.  Because training falls into a discretionary spend bucket, it is always one of the first things to go when companies start looking to save money and control costs.

RELATED: Budget Planning Tips for Managers

How to Justify a Training Need

Now that we’ve covered the money, let’s shift gears and talk about how to justify a need for training.  To do this, here are 4 questions you want to be prepared for when requesting a training class:

Why is training needed? 

The first, and most obvious question you will have to answer is why training is required in the first place.  In anticipation of this question, you should have firm data and rationale to support your need for training, for either yourself or your employees.

Some questions that may help you answer this are:

1.  When was the last time you or your employee(s) had the opportunity for formal training or professional development? Do you have some historic information?
RELATED: How to Write and Employee Performance Review

2.  Are there specific development needs being addressed by the training (basic skill development, advanced software user courses, technical skills, etc)?  Have these needs been documented in either employee development plans, or written performance reviews?

3.   What alternatives to training are there, and why are those options not viable?

When it comes to the question of Why? gather some data ahead of time to help you illustrate the need and the overall rationale for why no other options are appropriate.

Is it in your budget?

Second to asking why the training is needed, the next most obvious question you will be asked is whether or not you have planned for the expense in your budget.  And how you answer this is really important.  If the answer is ‘yes’ then you are in a great position to say the training expense is something that was planned in your budget and is therefore not going to adversely impact the overall financial plan.  Note that even if it were a planned cost, budgets may still have been trimmed and you may still have an uphill battle to justify the training.

If there answer is ‘no’ then you’ll have a harder time getting the expense approved.  In this case, look for alternate ways costs can be controlled.  For example, if you planned to hire a new employee on January 1, but have not be able to fill the position for a few months, what sort of cost has been “saved” as a result?  Alternatively, perhaps a customer funded some activity earlier in the year.  Perhaps you can use those funds to “offset” the cost of training, again, preventing and adverse impact on the budget.  If those options do not exist, try to find the most economical way to get your team they training they seek.  Managing a budget is tough, but remembering that the budget includes a variety of components will help you piece together a financial justification for training.  Work closely with your finance department to keep your need to provide training for your staff fresh on their minds should an opportunity comes up to spend a little extra funds.

What value will we get out of it?

When it comes to justifying anything, the first word that should come to your mind is benefit.  The same rule applies to explaining why you or an employee needs training.  By taking a given training course, what benefit will it return to the business?  Like a Return on Investment (ROI), spending $10,000 on a training seminar for a few employees needs to offer some sort of benefit and value to justify the cost.  While the benefit is unlikely to be a discrete amount of increase in profit, for example, there are likely to be other beneficial results.  For instance, maybe the training will help improve the speed at which your employees can turn around new quotations to prospective customers, or perhaps it will reduce your need to increase staff next year since your employees are more skilled and efficient at their jobs.  Regardless, make sure the training you are trying to justify does indeed have some real benefit to offer, and be prepared to share this information with the approving entity.  As a point of caution, “my employees asked for it” is not a good answer.  Tie the benefit to business performance.





Technology Plan Flow Chart





Comments (9)

Kelly Carlson said

at 11:39 am on Oct 20, 2018

In my last Technology Center class with Dr. K, we worked some on creating a technology plan. She said a great site with us from the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) Forum Unified Educational Technology Suite. It had a lot of great info and tables that may be of interest to folks.


Kelly Carlson said

at 11:41 am on Oct 20, 2018

One of my go to sites is the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE). They have an article by Max Frazier and Doug Hearrington, the Authors of The Technology Coordinator's Handbook that talks about "5 tips to get started with technology planning" as well as introduces the ISTE’s Lead and Transform Diagnostic Tool.


jcouchma@... said

at 4:54 pm on Oct 31, 2018

I really enjoy the guiding questions from this site: https://dese.mo.gov/quality-schools/education-technology/six-step-process-creating-technology-plan
Feel free to read through and discuss how we can use them within our Wiki!

Kelly Carlson said

at 7:28 pm on Nov 11, 2018

I really like these and appreciate them being in question form...it allows for each school/district to establish their own guidelines, rather than just cut and paste from others.
I think they should be included in the wiki, Jenna.

william.frech@... said

at 7:13 pm on Nov 18, 2018

https://tech.ed.gov/netp/ This is the link to the National Educational Technology Plan. It was developed by the Educational Technology Office at the US Dept. of Education. This is a good source when creating a technology plan.

william.frech@... said

at 7:19 pm on Nov 18, 2018

The class text states an effective technology plan should include the following.

1. A vision
2. Involvement of all stakeholders.
3. Gathering Data
4. Review of relevant research
5. Planned integration of technology into the curriculum.
6. Commitment to professional development.
7. Ensure sound infrastructure.
8. Allocation of appropriate funding and budget.
9. Plan for ongoing assessment and monitoring.
10. Preparation for tomorrow and the future.

Robert Verity said

at 9:41 am on Dec 4, 2018

For those of you who work in a for profit organization, I've included a excerpt from the "Manager's Resource Handbook". I found this guide very helpful for justifying the expense of training and education both for our students and staff. The guide explains the challenges associated with keeping learning within the yearly budget. Does anyone else in the class have these issues within their organization? If so, have you seen your internal and student education budgets decline over the years?

Kelly Carlson said

at 11:54 am on Dec 7, 2018

Yes. In the nonprofit I was recently at, the internal budget was significantly decreased due to the misconceptions about training and resource availability on the "cloud." It was believed that text and written sources were no longer necessary and everything could now be downloaded for free and there was no longer a need for subscriptions. There was a lot of discussions, research, and frustration to show 1. While accurate and timely info was now online, the info we needed was not free. 2. Most software we used to have disks for and were now cloud-based still had a cost and licensing requirements, 3. Free does not equate to good or good enough.

Jennifer Belt said

at 1:27 pm on Dec 12, 2018

Thank you all for the great information. The Technology Coordinator's handbook is such a great resource.

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