About This Resource

The Small Schools' Technology Planner was written in 1997. Most of the advice was still relevant though the links were not, but some major changes have occurred since then, including the advent of the Read/Write Web (also known as "Web 2.0") and Open Source software.

Drupal is open source Web 2.0 software, and the most powerful around. Sites made with Drupal for Education can be school districts (see the Drupal Schools Network, Intranets (like Open Atrium), or teaching and learning resources (like Teaching Matters).

Please leave your thoughts below in the comment section below these pages, and help make this resource even more up to date.

The Small School's Technology Planner

Why This Guide?

Small schools derive strength from their uniqueness, from the initiative of their teachers, and from the engagement of their students. Small school educators value independence, but pay for that freedom with extra work organizing and coordinating efforts that would otherwise be the responsibility of a central office.

Technology planning is a function which need not - and should not - reside at the district level, when each school has a different culture and vision. Not every school will use technology in the same way, even if general categories of use may be standard or borrowed from existing plans. If use determines deployment, (and it should), school technology planning is  properly located at the the faculty level than with district administrators or equipment vendors.

However, the task of technology planning is an education in itself, and not to be entered into lightly. It is an opportunity for teacher and student empowerment, but also for frustration and failure. A "teacher-friendly" approach to the process can help get the novices and the "techies" onto the same page, providing the tools and tips they need. 

The Risk of Technology Planning

Public schools have a history of planning initiatives falling flat.  Inadequate funding, lack of follow-through, and changing priorities can all derail efforts.  Four factors are central to small school technology planning:

  • the support of an administrator with the ability to direct funding and sanction time
  • the empowered commitment of a technology planning committee that represents the faculty well
  • the effective use of an intranet to make the process efficient and transparent
  • the advice of a technology integration expert who is not trying to sell the school equipment or software

This is by no means an exhaustive list.

Infrastructure on a Budget

Not all aspects of technology planning require faculty direction or even input. Two prior infrastructures - power and data - are best done as part of school construction or renovation.  It is very difficult - and expensive - to change these fundamentals midstream.  However, even a school with a low student:computer ratio and few classroom computers can accomplish a great deal, providing that teachers:

  • make use of new web technologies for teaching and learning
  • ensure all students have home Internet access

Open source software makes it possible to use surplussed equipment for classroom and home computing, as long as schools have the power and data infrastructure (and space and furniture). With the creative use of students and volunteers to help support the initiative, computer labs and classroom clusters can provide rich environments for teaching and learning with current tools, and access the world beyond school walls. 

However, a teacher with a digital projector and a website where students can log in from home is much easier to create and support, and can be just as transformative for the teaching and learning process.

Preparing for Planning

School technology planning can (and should) be incremental, giving faculty and staff time to learn about their own needs and what works best in their particular setting as they make broader and more costly decisions. It is not necessary to draft a long and detailed document before purchasing initial levels of infrastructure and equipment, following an "action research" effort than a "master plan".

However, there is some readying to be done.The first stage in small democratic school technology planning is gearing up for the job: getting a team ready to work, plan and learn together as they develop a sense of how to best work together and master the issues.

Powered by Drupal - Design by artinet