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Effective Technology Planning for the Technology Literacy Challange (PDF)
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There are several good reasons to foster the involvement of parents, public libraries, business leaders and community leaders in district and school technology planning activities(1). Such involvement establishes a 2-way communication conduit that can:
Provide the opportunity for community input and insight into the district's technology activities.
Provide the opportunity to educate community leaders who, in turn, can help educate the community about the goals and activities of the district related to the use of technology.
Generate understanding and support for district and school funding of technology and technology-related program decisions(2).
Facilitate the development of a wide range of collaborative projects and activities.
Enhance public accountability.
Districts will likely want to avoid asking community representatives to be participants in regular technology committee meetings. The kinds of issues that need to be addressed in these meetings are generally not issues that community representatives can contribute to. Such involvement can be a waste of time for both the technology committee and the community representatives.
The following are some positive ways to enhance the involvement of community representatives:
Establish a district technology advisory committee that meets several times a year: In the fall, the advisory committee would receive an update of district progress and needs (See Planning and Implementation) and to make recommendations for district priorities. In early winter, as the district enters the budget process, the committee would receive a report on the district technology committee's priorities for the following year and their budget request. In the spring, the committee could contribute to the assessment process and review teacher and student projects.
Use the school site councils in an advisory capacity for the school technology committees committee -- to receive reports on progress and recommended priorities.
Establish district-level ad hoc special issues committees with community representatives to address special projects, such as the establishment of a student computer recycling program, community information network, or the coordination of Net Day activities.
Establish ad hoc school committees to address school-level special projects, such as a special fund drive for technology or a school web project.
Request community assistance, especially business involvement, to address equity concerns of schools that are located in socioeconomically deprived areas of the community. (See Equity )
Develop a community-wide union catalogue of library materials that includes school library and public library holdings.
Establish a program to use community volunteers for technology-related activities, such as teacher training, assisting students in repairing computers, hosting open school labs for community access.
(1)PL 103-382, Sec 3135, 20 USC 6845 (2) describe how the local education agency will involve parents, public libraries, business leaders and community leaders in the development of such plan.
(2)Technology has to compete in the budget process with all of the other necessary educational expenditures. The backing of community leaders for technology expenditures can be helpful in the budget process. To be more blunt, the testimony of a community business leader to the school board about the importance of the district's investment in technology, especially when this testimony is based on this business leader's involvement in an advisory capacity with the district's technology committee, is likely to have substantially more impact than the testimony of the district technology coordinator or a technology enthusiast teacher.