From Now On
The Educational Technology Journal

This technology assessment form may be duplicated and used within a school district provided $25 is paid to Network 609. Any other use or duplication is prohibited without express permission.

District Technology Self-Assessment Form

1. Is there a sense of purpose? a plan?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Is there a written district technology plan which clarifies philosophical commitments and directions for district staff? Does this plan focus upon the horizon - the long view? Does it leave room for steering and flexibility as staff learns through experience? Does it address all critical elements of program implementation including staff development as well as hardware purchases? Is the plan research-based? Were all key constituents involved in creating the plan?

2. Is the technology being used?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Does the district have some method to quantify or track the per cent of time that equipment is being used by students or community members? Is there a system to figure out which staff members are making use of the equipment and which are not? Does the administration and the Board take a position with regard to computer and technology usage? How much usage would be desirable? 100% of the school day? 75%? 65%? 35%? Is there a gap between desired and actual? Does anyone know why? Is there a staff plan to narrow the gap?

3. Is technology blended into regular classroom learning?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: If technologies are basic tools for managing information in an Age of Information, they should be used broadly, within the art classrooms, the English classrooms, the vocational classrooms and all others. Studies of schools have shown that technology usage is often centered in special "niches" and departments such as a computer department or the media center and the usage is often concentrated in the hands of a narrow group of pioneers or champions. Are appropriate uses of technologies written into all of the district curriculum documents as mandatory activities to prepare students for the next century? Do all subject teachers make use of on-line databases, CD-ROM discs and word-processing for research projects, for example? Do students learn to create multimedia reports? If your district uses CAI (computer-assisted instruction) or an ILS (integrated learning system) approach, how closely are those learning experiences dove-tailed with their corresponding subject areas? If a child is doing reading practice on the computer, will it be on the same skills as she/he is developing with the rest of the language arts program? Is the new technology an organ transplant which has been accepted, or is it a grafted limb being rejected?

4. Does the use of technology mirror workplace realities?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Has your district explored how adult workers are currently using technologies to do scientific research, writing, planning, designing, evaluating, etc.? Has that exploration been translated into school experiences and programs? Is technology thought of primarily as a teaching tool or as a problem-solving tool of every day life? How well are the school technology experiences preparing students for the Information Age workplace? Is there an explicit district definition of the Information Age? Is staff aware of how the use of information is transforming work and the kinds of skills required by today's workers? Has Toffler's Power Shift been carefully reviewed? Was ASTD's Workplace Basics considered? Are technologically savvy representatives of the profit and non-profit sectors consulted when the district does technology planning?

5. Is the staff adequately prepared to use the technology?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Has the Board funded a comprehensive staff development plan over 3-5 years or more to provide all teachers with sufficient technology skills to implement an appropriate program? Are all teachers required to acquire such skills? Are assessment plans in place to determine what course offerings need to be added in future years? Does staff development take place during the regular work year/day or is it added on in ways that require teachers to subsidize the learning with volunteered time? Is compensation for training/learning reasonable and fair?

6. Does the staff ever visit the workplace?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: What provisions are made for staff members to spend time in the modern workplace seeing how technologies are employed? What percentage of English teachers, for example, have spent a day in a modern newspaper office seeing how technologies support the writing, design, layout and production of a newspaper? How many science teachers have visited a modern science lab to see how computers may be used to conduct experiments and model scientific phenomena? How many media specialists have visited modern libraries offering cutting-edge information systems?

7. Is access to technology equitable?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Does the district monitor technology usage by gender, race, location, and academic track to make certain that access is equitable? What kinds of data are collected and reported to help guarantee equal access? When evidence arises that there are gaps of various kinds, what provision is made to close such gaps?

8. What kinds of relationships should students have with machines?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Has the Board expressed community values in concert with the professional staff with regard to desirable relationships between students and machines? Are these values communicated explicitly in Board policy or in a district technology plan? How much time should students be engaged with various kinds of technologies? Who should be in control, the student or the machine? What are the long term consequences of such relationships? How do they relate to other educational goals such as citizenship and self esteem?

9. What implicit values are taught by technologies?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Is there a system in place to review the implicit values or hidden curriculum taught by various technologies? If computer software rewards students for correct responses by providing game time or opportunities to blow up aliens, for example, is such a reward system consistent with Board policies and community values? Does the technology stress extrinsic or intrinsic rewards? Is responsibility for reviewing such issues clearly identified? Is there a Board policy regarding software piracy and violations of copyright? Do students see ethical behavior modeled by the professional staff? Are ethical issues related to technologies addressed by curriculum areas such as social studies? Are students taught critical thinking and critical viewing skills to equip them to counter propaganda and media distortions? Will they emerge from schooling as thoughtful consumers or impulsive consumers? Will they be passive viewers or active viewers?

10. Does the technology enhance self-esteem, independence and imagination?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Workplace Basics states the need for workers who know how to learn independently, come up with novel solutions to problems and ride through the turbulence of a changing economy and society with self-confidence and adaptability. Are district technology experiences designed to deliver that kind of workforce? How do you assess progress toward such goals? Do you measure student self-esteem? independence? imagination? Is there a program review process to determine which learning experiences are most likely to promote the growth of such qualities?

11. Is the technology more effective than alternative strategies?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Is the technology the only way to provide a particular learning experience such as mastering various reading skills? If not, does the technology deliver results which are superior to corresponding alternatives for a comparable investment? If a district chose to invest in staff development aimed at improving teachers' reading instruction, for example, would students in those classrooms make smaller or larger gains than those in classrooms where an ILS system was installed? Does the district introduce such programs as pilots allowing for compare-and-contrast reviews of costs and benefits? Is the data from such studies made available to the Board as part of the district decision-making process?

12. Is the district evaluating what is happening?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: What kinds of data are gathered to assess the impact of various technologies? Is the data gathered in an objective fashion following accepted principles for experimental design to avoid bias? Does the evaluation design take into account issues such as the "Hawthorne effect" and the differential impact of volunteers as implementers of pilot programs? Is data used formatively , as a guide to future decisions and program modifications?

13. Is the technology efficient, flexible, adaptable and current?

excellent (5) good (4) fair (3) weak (2) poor (1)

Related Questions: Are issues such as processing speed, expandability and connectivity addressed in district planning and purchasing? If students will be using the technology to do graphics or CAD, for example, do cost considerations result in the purchase of low speed technology which will require students to sit and stare at the screen for minutes at time, wasting thousands of hours over the course of a year? Do similar considerations result in the purchase of black and white monitors which limit the ability of students to work in 3-D or work with multiple variables in graphing and statistics programs? When videodisc players, CD-ROM players, computers, video cameras, etc. are purchased, are choices made with a 3-5 year perspective? Are models with maximal expandability and adaptability selected to protect against pre-mature obsolescence? Is obsolescent existing technology maintained far past program usefulness because it has not stopped working or broken down? What planning procedures are in place to provide for timely updating of technologies and the transfer of obsolescent equipment to programs where the shortcomings are irrelevant?

Total Score____ (55-65 = outstanding; 45-55 = strong; 45 or less indicates a need for improvement)

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