Planning for Educational
- Our educational system is complex,
massive, and highly resistant to change. It takes a major
and continuing effort to produce a significant change in
our educational system. This chapter begins with a
discussion of how information technology is affecting the
conventional goals of education. It then focuses on
long-range strategic planning and its role in educational
of Education in the United States
- A strategic plan for technology in
education should take into consideration the generally
acknowledged goals of education. Chapter 3 contains three
general goals of education. The following list is more
extensive and detailed. It is a list of goals that many
people in American society generally agree upon. Each of
the goals is followed by brief comments about how the
goal is being affected by information technology.
Security: All students are safe from
emotional and physical harm. Both formal and
informal educational systems must provide a safe
and secure environment designed to promote
Comment: There has been a great deal of media
coverage about potential physical and emotional
harm that might occur as students are given
access to the World Wide Web. Schools are
responding by trying to shelter students from
Web sites that are deemed to be inappropriate.
In addition, students are being asked to use the
Web in a responsible manner.
Full Potential: All students are knowingly
working toward achieving and increasing their
healthful physical, mental, and emotional
Comment: Notice the emphasis on students
"knowingly" working to increase their
potentials. The goal is to empower students to
empower themselves. Person Plus is more powerful
than a person who lacks knowledge and skills in
using the modern mind tools. Achieving full
potential includes learning to make effective
use of contemporary tools that are used in the
fields where one is developing their
Values: All students respect the traditional
values of the family, community, state, nation,
and world in which they live.
Comment: Not all people are equally
appreciative of and supportive of information
technology. Our educational system must allow
for such differences in values. In many cases,
this means that students must be given options
on assignments and on information sources, as
well as guidance in selecting options that are
supportive of values of their family and
Environment: All students value a healthy
local and global environment, and they knowingly
work to improve the quality of the
Comment: Some of the most successful uses of
information technology in schools have centered
around environmental projects. Students work on
environmental problems in their own communities
and/or on a wider scale. For example, students
make use of microcomputer-based instrumentation
to gather data on water and air quality. Data
may be shared from sites throughout the city,
state, nation, or world through use of e-mail.
It has become common for students to develop
hypermedia documents as an aid in disseminating
the results of their studies.
Overall Educational System: All communities
knowingly work toward having both formal and
informal educational systems that work together
on the following Achieving Goals.
Comment: Information technology is now well
embedded in our communities. The entire
community can be a supportive learning
environment as students learn about information
technology. School-business partnerships for
information technology have become common. For
example, many companies refurbish the
microcomputers that they are replacing, and
provide them to schools.
Basic Skills: All students gain a working
knowledge of speaking and listening, observing
(which includes visual literacy), reading and
writing, arithmetic, logic, and storing and
retrieving information. All students learn to
solve problems, accomplish tasks, deal with
novel situations, and carry out other
higher-order cognitive activities that make use
of these basic skills.
Comment: Many people now argue that
information technology literacy is a basic
skill. A number of states have set goals for
having all of their students gain basic
knowledge and skills in use of a variety of
information technology tools.
General Education: All students have
appreciation for, knowledge about, and
understanding of a number of general areas of
- Artistic, intellectual, social, and
technical accomplishments of humanity.
- Cultures and cultural diversity;
religions and religious diversity.
- Governments and governance.
- History and geography.
- Mathematics and science.
- Nature in its diversity and
Comment: Information technology is part of
the technical accomplishments of humanity. The
history of information technology is an integral
component of the history of the human race.
Lifelong Learning: All students learn how to
learn. They have the inquiring attitude and
self-confidence that allows them to pursue
life's options. They have the knowledge and
skills needed to deal effectively with
Comment: Information technology will continue
to change quite rapidly. It will present a
learning challenge to students of all ages
throughout their lifetimes.
Problem Solving: All students make use of
decision-making and problem-solving skills,
including the higher-order skills of analysis,
synthesis, and evaluation. All students pose and
solve problems, making routine and creative use
of their overall knowledge and skills.
Comment: Information technology is a powerful
aid to problem solving in every academic
discipline. The idea of Person Plus is important
throughout all grade levels and subject areas in
Productive Citizenship: All students act as
informed, productive, and responsible members of
organizations to which they give allegiance, and
as members of humanity as a whole.
Comment: Information technology, including
the World Wide Web, is fast becoming a routine
component of life in our society.
Social Skills: All students interact publicly
and privately with peers and adults in a
socially acceptable and positive fashion.
Comment: Information technology has brought
us new forms of communication and social
interaction, including desktop conferencing,
picture phones, e-mail, and groupware.
Technology: All students have appropriate
knowledge and skills for using our rapidly
changing Information Age technologies as well as
relevant technologies developed in earlier
Comment: Information technology is both a
discipline in its own right and a driving force
for change in many different areas of
technology, science, and research.
- Many organizations do long-range
strategic planning. They decide where they would like to
be 5 to 6 years in the future, and then they commit their
resources to getting there. That is, strategic planning
can be thought of as a combination of predicting the
future and of allocating resources to shape the future.
Strategic planning is a process that
leads to a product. The product, a strategic plan, is
useful to the extent that:
- it embodies creative, careful, and realistic
- it is implemented in an appropriate and thoughtful
- it contributes significantly to accomplishing the
mission of the organization.
Many organizations find that the process of developing
a strategic plan contributes as much or more to an
organization than does actually having such a plan in
hand. However, a strategic plan is very important to have
available because it provides a framework for day-to-day
and longer-term decision making on the part of the staff
and volunteers who work for the organization.
In general, completion of a
long-range strategic plan then leads to the development
of a medium-range plan that covers 2 to 3 years, and a
short-range plan covering one year. One-year plans are
particularly important in education because typically one
can accurately forecast the resources (money and people)
that will be available during the year.
Once a long-range strategic plan is
in place, it needs to be updated each year. This provides
a basis for annually updating the medium-range plan and
creating the next year's plan. All of this gets tied into
the budget cycle, as a year's budget is designed to
accomplish specific short-term goals in the year's
Strategic Planning Process
- A six-step strategic planning
process for technology in education is outlined below. A
strategic planning team should include members from the
various stakeholder groups that are involved with and/or
interested in education. Typically, several members of
the team will be community members who are not educators.
A small school might require about 100 person-hours of
time to complete the process. A large school district
might require 1,000 or more person-hours of time to
complete the process. Keep in mind that quite a bit of
the time is used to help educate the planners. The time
and effort invested in this education process is
essential to achieving overall success in the strategic
1. Evaluate the
The starting point for strategic
planning is a careful evaluation of the current
situation. This step is often called an environmental
scan. Much of the work needed to complete an
environmental scan can be assigned to staff and can be
completed before the first meeting of the strategic
planning group. However, once the group begins meeting,
it will likely generate additional requests for such
- Analyze the environment and the planning
assumptions. Identify the key stakeholders, their
beliefs and goals, and the current state of affairs.
- Tabulate such resources as money, personnel, time,
and so forth and decide whether these are certain,
allocated, or probable. Resources are needed both to
carry out the strategic planning process and to
implement the plans that are developed.
- Gather and analyze data on what is working well
and what is not working well. For example, what are
the current uses of technology in the organization,
and what are students learning about such technology?
- Gather baseline data that adequately describes the
current situation. This will consist of both
quantitative and qualitative data. This baseline data
is needed both for planning purposes and to measure
change over time, as implementation of the strategic
plan proceeds over the years. Conclusions from the
data can become assumptions for planning.
2. Articulate a
Although long-range strategic
planning usually focuses on a 5- to 6-year time span, it
is important to have a vision of what might be
accomplished over a much longer time span. This vision
might be focused 15 or more years in the future.
Imagine a member of the strategic
planning committee sharing hopes and fears:
- My child will enter
kindergarten next year. I hope and expect that my
child will at least complete two years of technical
training in a community college-I think that is going
to be essential to get a good job.
What will the world be like when
my child is finishing school, looking for a job, and
taking on more and more adult responsibilities? Will
the formal and informal education that we have been
able to provide prove adequate?
I am particularly concerned about how rapidly
technology is changing, and how this is changing jobs.
I want my child to be ready for the jobs that have not
yet even been created. I want my child to have the
knowledge, skills, and learning habits that will be
needed to deal with the changing job situations 15 or
more years from now.
This sort of sharing is a starting
point for the strategic planning group forming a vision.
Every member of the group can share hopes, fears, and
visions. This type of sharing activity is a good way for
the planning group members to get to know each other.
Notice that it is personal-it does not focus on any
particular stakeholder group. It helps to create a shared
vision that moves beyond the concerns of any particular
Such a vision is painted in very
broad strokes. Thus, it might focus on the problem
solving and learning challenges today's preschoolers will
face on the job, as homemakers, and as responsible adults
15 years from now.
3. Decide on a Mission
A strategic planning group needs to
decide on a technology in education mission for the
school or school district for which the strategic
planning is being done.
A mission is an ongoing purpose, the
reason an organization exists. It should be simple,
direct, and easy for people to understand. Perhaps you
remember what the mission of the March of Dimes was a
number of years ago. Its mission was to conquer polio.
This was a mission many different groups of people
supported over many years. Now the organization has a new
mission-to conquer birth defects. Notice that both the
initial and the current missions of the March of Dimes
are simple, direct, and easy to understand.
For a school district, a sample
mission statement might be "To ensure that all of our
students are technologically literate." Quite likely the
term "technologically literate" will be defined as a
moving target-that is, a target based on ever changing
contemporary standards. Thus, the mission will never be
4. Propose and Select
The vision must be translated into
specific goals and objectives. These need to be grounded
in the reality of the resources available to the
organization. The research literature on strategic
planning suggests that a plan should not contain more
than a half-dozen major goals.
Each goal can be supported by
several objectives. And, of course, objectives can be
supported by subobjectives. However, such detailed levels
of goals, objectives, and subobjectives is apt to result
in a plan that will not be accomplished. It places far
too much emphasis on a top-down approach to problem
solving and leaves too little to the insights and
initiatives of those people who will actually be
implementing the plan.
5. Develop a Strategic
The strategic planning group needs
to develop an overall implementation plan based on the
agreed-upon goals and objectives. Who will do what, by
when, using what resources? Who will be responsible for
monitoring and reporting on progress?
The implementation plan has
short-term (perhaps one year or less), medium-term (2 to
3 years), and long-term (4 to 5 years or more)
components. Remember that the development of an
implementation plan requires careful examination of the
goals. Quite likely, goals and objectives will be revised
during planning for implementation.
The strategic planning group will
probably develop only a rough plan for implementation.
Details may best be left up to the school personnel who
have the authority and responsibility for implementation.
Some planning groups and advisory councils have a
tendency to "micromanage"-to attempt to spell out small
details of what is to be done to achieve particular
goals. This is inappropriate and can seriously hinder
schools from actually achieving the goals.
6. Periodic Assessment and
Once a plan has been adopted, school
personnel will choose, organize, and work on specific
activities that are based on the overall implementation
plan and that lead to achieving the adopted goals and
objectives. They will also set in place an evaluation
process that provides information needed by decision
makers, implementors, and planners.
Evaluation must be an ongoing part
of strategic implementation. A key idea is that results
from the evaluation are fed into current planning.
Successful planners periodically revise and update the
strategic plan based on the ongoing formative evaluation
process. The long-range strategic plan should be
carefully examined each year and should be updated based
on information gathered during the year. Typically, the
updating process takes only a small fraction of the time
and effort used in the creation of the original plan.
The National Center for
Technology Planning is a clearinghouse for the
exchange of information related to technology planning,
including school district technology plans, technology
planning aids, sample planning forms, and electronic
monographs on related topics. The address is:
Mississippi State, MS 39762
Route to School Improvement and Change
- David Perkins (1992) analyzes the
processes of school improvement and change. He gives a
set of six criteria-all which need to be met-if a project
is to have a positive, long lasting effect on a school.
The six criteria are given below, along with some
analysis from an information technology point of view. A
long-range strategic plan for educational change should
pay careful attention to the ideas presented in this
- Do not escalate teacher workload. While
information technology can increase productivity,
invariably there is an initial phase of use in which
decreased productivity occurs. This is part of the
learning effort. In education, part of this difficulty
can be overcome by providing teachers release time for
professional development and by providing them with
in-school (indeed, in their classroom) training and
- Allow teachers a creative role. One key aspect of
the Information Age is a restructuring of business
that includes considerably increased empowerment of
the front line workers. Classroom teachers must be
involved in design and implementation of their own
professional development as well as in changes in
curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
- Avoid extreme demands on teachers' skills and
talents. The field of information technology in
education is extensive and growing. It takes a great
deal of knowledge and skills to function well in this
- Include strong materials support. Teachers need
good instructional materials, and students need good
learning materials, for technology in education.
- Do not boost the school costs per student a lot.
At the current time, computer hardware and software
are an add-on expense in education. As discussed
elsewhere in this book, potential expenses can be
considerable. Careful thought needs to be given as to
whether the information technology expenses will lead
to decreases in other expenses.
- Fulfill many conventional educational objectives
at least as well as conventional instruction. Chapter
3 of this book draws a parallel between the three R's
and use of information technology in education.
Will It Cost?
- This book contains forecasts of
steadily increasing allocation of K-12 educational
resources toward meeting the goals of technology in
education. It is clear that it will cost a great deal to
achieve those goals. Some of the needed funds can be
obtained by reallocation of funds currently being
allocated to other purposes. Major additional funding
from other sources will likely be necessary.
At the current time in the United
States, perhaps 1.5% of school budgets is being spent on
information technology hardware, software, networks,
infrastructure, and support systems (U.S. Office of
Education, June 1996). Already, however, there are
schools that are spending 5% of their budgets in these
areas. Over the long run, even this 5% figure will prove
to be inadequate.
To understand why this is so,
imagine a school of the future in which every student has
routine access to technology-enhanced learning. These TEL
resources are available to the student at school and at
home. The resources are backed up by a well-maintained
infrastructure and support system. Among other things,
this support system provides teachers with the inservice
education and technical support that they need to
continue to grow on the job.
In terms of 1996 dollars, the
average cost of public education in the United States is
about $6,000 per student per year. Ten percent of this
amount is about $600 per student per year. Now, imagine
how far $600 per student per year will go in terms
- Providing every student and teacher with a
powerful portable computer and a full range of
computer productivity tools.
- Providing every classroom with a technology
infrastructure that includes scanners, printers,
camcorders, desktop presentation, and network
- Providing every student and teacher good access to
the full range of TEL facilities both in and outside
- Providing maintenance and repair staff, as well as
other technical support.
- Providing continuing inservice education and
support for teachers.
- Providing ongoing curriculum revision and
curriculum development to keep pace with the continued
change in the technology.
Even 10% of the school budget is not
enough to provide all of these facilities and services.
Thus, over the next decade we will see a steady rise in
the average percentage of the K-12 educational budget
that is going into technology. Ten years from now we will
see a number of schools spending well over 10% of their
budgets for such technology.
The work of Henry Becker suggests
that 10% is far too low an estimate of the needed
resources. In Becker's (Fall 1993) article "A Truly
Empowering Technology-Rich Education-How Much Will It
Cost?" in the Educational IRM Quarterly, he
analyzes technology costs based on schools that are
making exemplary use of computers. He breaks the costs
into facilities (such as items 1-3 in the list given
above) and staff (such as 4-6 above). His conclusion is
that the staff costs will exceed the facilities costs.
This is consistent with a rule of thumb from the business
world that hardware, software, and other related
infrastructure make up about half the costs of providing
employees with computer facilities.
Becker suggests that for an average
school to have reasonably up-to-date computer facilities
and a good support system might well cost 30% of the
current school budget. He compares this with the costs of
implementing other types of major changes to the school,
such as costs of implementing Ted Sizer's Coalition for
Essential Schools model for secondary school organization
and instruction. The costs were not a great deal
different from what Becker feels would be necessary to
support exemplary use of information technology.
Notice the huge discrepancy between
what Henry Becker is predicting for the eventual costs of
information technology in education, and David Perkin's
suggestion that to have a good chance of success,
educational changes should not cost too much. This huge
discrepancy suggests that full integration of information
technology into our educational system faces a very
Long Will It Take to Get There?
- Few writers seem to be willing to
make predictions about how long it will take to
thoroughly integrate information technology into our
educational system. Will we be there 50 years from now? A
major part of the difficulty is that we face a moving
target. Information technology is changing quite rapidly,
so it is not at all clear what one might mean by
"thoroughly integrate information technology into our
educational system." It seems safe to say that this
integration will not occur during the next few decades.
That is, the pace of change of information technology
will far exceed the pace of change in schools attempting
to adjust to information technology.
Think back to earlier in this book
where we were talking about the impact of steam power and
the Industrial revolution in England. Fifty years into
the Industrial Revolution, the economy of the country had
been transformed by steam power. However, electrical
power, the internal combustion engine, and the jet engine
had yet to be invented. The Industrial Revolution was
still in its infancy. A number of technological
breakthroughs would occur during the next hundred years,
but these were not evident to people at that time.
It is highly likely that the same
situation exists for the Information Age. For an example,
consider the field of Artificial Intelligence. Alan
Turing, a pioneer in the development of computers,
provides us with a 50-year historical perspective. Alan
Turing helped to develop the first electronic digital
computers built in England during the early 1940s. He was
a brilliant mathematician and an early contributor to the
research in computer and information science. In 1950 he
posed a test for Artificial Intelligence. The test is an
imitation game, and has come to be called the Turing
Test. The idea is to develop a computer program that
interacts with a human via computer terminal, and that
can consistently fool the human into believing that
he/she is interacting with a human being. Turing
predicted that within 50 years, by the year 2000, the
computer field would have achieved such progress. He made
this prediction at a time when there were only about 20
computers in the whole world and the first
commercially-produced computer had not yet rolled off the
Today's fastest computers are far
more than a million times as fast as the computers in
1950. An immense amount of progress has occurred in
programming and in Artificial Intelligence. Many people
and groups have attempted to develop computer programs
that will pass the Turing Test. Indeed, there is a
substantial prize being offered to the first person/group
to achieve this feat. So far-no winners.
Will the next 50 years bring us
walking, talking robots that readily pass the Turing
test? Will these robots have human-like intelligence, be
multilingual, and be able to carry on a learned
conversation about any topic that happens to interest a
human conversationalist? Will such robots surpass humans
in their problem solving and research skills?
Will the next 50 years bring direct
neural connections between human brains and powerful
computers? For example, will part of the education of a
child include brain implants of computer memory chips and
processing chips? What would it be like to have one's
brain augmented by a few billion bytes of factual
information and a high speed processor?
Clearly, the previous two paragraphs
are currently just science fiction. Will this type of
science fiction become factual in 50 years? A hundred
years? A thousand years? Never?
We are approximately 50 years into
the Information Age. The next 50 years will bring many
times the changes we have seen in the past 50 years.
While some of these changes will be orderly progressions
from current technology, others will be major and
unforeseen breakthroughs. Some of the ideas that we now
think of as science fiction will become factual.
- We are at the very beginning of a
major change in education. While the basic goals of
education will not change much during the next few
decades, our methods of working to achieve these goals
will change substantially. There will be a major
restructuring of educational funding in order to support
putting 10-20% or more of school budgets into information
Impetus for change can come from any
stakeholder interested in education. A small number of
determined parents, for example, can cause major changes
in a school system. However, a larger and more broadly
representative group is usually more effective. If you
are working to increase the use of information technology
in a school or school district, you may want to form a
team that has the same types of representation that are
needed for long-range strategic planning for information
Long-range strategic planning
provides tools for examining possible changes and
systematically addressing the change process. While many
schools have a long-range strategic plan for information
technology, most such plans are woefully inadequate.
Almost every school and school district can benefit by
developing and implementing a more careful and ongoing
approach to long-range strategic planning for information