PETE&C 2015 – Are you evaluating your tech initiative?

Screen Shot 2015-02-14 at 8.57.39 PMIn the last post, Moving toward transformation…., I shared how a colleague (@lfuinihetten) and I were days from the opportunity to dig deeper into our leadership challenge and working with 18 other school districts from across the country, researchers such as Ruben Puentedura and Damian Bebel, and a team of facilitators from Apple, Inc. Because of inclement weather conditions, we never made it out of Allentown, and the work session was moved to later this month. We are still very much looking forward to fine-tuning our assessment/evaluation efforts on our teaching and learning initiative – TL2020. More to come… But in the meantime, both @lfuinihetten and I attended PETE&C, Pennsylvania’s educational technology conference and were privileged to share two sessions with our colleagues from across the state:

  • Evaluating and Assessing Your Tech Initiative – Evaluating and assessing your tech initiative is key to adjusting your implementation and knowing whether you’ve reached your goals. You will learn how Salisbury Township SD is using a simple framework for evaluating and assessing its 1:1 initiative. You don’t have to be a published researcher to successfully assess and evaluate your initiative!
  • The SAMR Framework: Leveling Tech Integration – Do you want to take technology integration to the next level? Discover a framework that can be used to classify the richness of technology use on a ladder from substitution through redefinition. Participants will learn the framework, view examples of technology use along the continuum, and apply the framework by developing a sample SAMR ladder.

I wanted to write about our first presentation, Evaluating and Assessing Your Tech InitiativeNot only is the topic a personal interest of mine, I also think it is valuable to share because I don’t see many 1:1 schools or districts asking how they are progressing toward their program goals. Since we started our 1:1 initiative in 2011, we have been collecting a wide variety of data from our context. We have used this data to tweak the course of our work as we progress (formative assessment) and provide a more formal year-end evaluation of the program to our school board. Over the course of several years, we have developed a framework of questions that has helped us assess and evaluate what we are doing with technology: (The framework could be used for any initiative, really.)

  • What are the goals of the initiative? (I’m surprised – still – how many tech initiatives really have no valid published goals or expected outcomes.)
  • Who is your audience? (Who cares whether you are making progress toward your goals – school board? Community? Educational researchers?)
  • What data will you collect? (What data sources will help you determine whether you are making progress on your goals?)
  • How will you analyze the data that you collect? (What methods of analysis will you use and who will be involved in the analysis?)
  • How will you share your results? (Faculty meetings? Board meetings? Online?)
  • What’s next? (Research – practitioner research in this case – should be cyclical. What did you learn and what will you change? And the cycle continues…)

While we are using the terms assessing and evaluating, we are really talking about research. Usually, though, that word scares people and they think they can’t do that because they don’t consider themselves educational researchers. That’s a shame because practitioners such as ourselves have a unique insider perspective. Our perspective should be used to help inform what we (and other practitioners) do to define best practices. You don’t need to be a published researcher with a doctorate. All you need is curiosity, a framework similar to that presented above and the wherewithal to gather and analyze data. The outcomes are well worth the investment! Be sure to check out the embedded presentation below for examples of how we have implemented the various phases of the inquiry process. I’d love to hear feedback or ways to improve the process.

What process do you follow to evaluate and assess you technology initiative?

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