Engage with Educators to Form a Global Blueprint
In late January, I had the honor and pleasure of moderating six panels at the Future of Educational Technology Conference (FETC) on the various facets of technology in education. These panels were a kickoff to a large-scale project to help schools and educators better understand the landscape of educational technology. This project is called The Blueprint for Technology in Education.
The Blueprint for Technology in Education, when completed, will fill a very large gap in educational technology by mapping out all of the touchpoints of technology within a school or district. The Blueprint will show the operational, academic, and data-related uses of technology. It will illustrate the breadth of technology in a school and the interdependencies of technology systems and practices. Beyond the core areas of devices, data, and usage, the Blueprint will also outline the policies, leadership needs, and external relations required to maintain a technology program. And finally, the Blueprint will highlight the needs of people by outlining how all members of a school community are impacted by the school’s technology.
In short, the Blueprint for Technology in Education will include these six strands:
- Learning Technology
- Information Technology
- Data and Data Systems
- School Community
- External Relations
By creating this Blueprint, we are in effect creating a common language around Educational Technology. It will help all educators understand where technology sits within an institution, how it supports operations, and how it is used to meet the mission of enhanced teaching and learning.
The Blueprint will improve schools in a number of ways. Imagine a school district creating a long-term strategic plan having the Blueprint that outlines all the touchpoints of technology in its schools. Perhaps a school conducting an evaluation of its learning technology programs having the mapped connections in the Blueprint understanding the importance of professional development and technology infrastructure. Or even a school board looking to create a lasting learning impact with technology having the full picture of what investment is needed for sustainability and continued growth.
Yet, the most exciting potential outcome of this work comes between schools and educational technology providers. Many schools contract with EdTech companies to solve problems or build programs without full knowledge of the products they are buying or the breadth of impact they may have. Further, few educators have the depth of experience with corporate communications to fully engage their vendors. Similarly, EdTech companies are companies first in that they sell their products and services to schools under the presumption that they understand the school’s needs. They offer the best case view of their products, always ready to address the challenges they have foreseen, with insufficient understanding of the complex ecology of a school. These relationships often end poorly. The schools don’t receive satisfactory solutions to their issues or problems arise that weren’t expected. Companies are left feeling uncertain why the schools were unable to clearly communicate with them.
The Blueprint would bridge this gap. By outlining all the areas of impact technology has in a school and by showing interdependencies between these touchpoints, both schools and EdTech companies would have a common communication resource. Schools would have a fuller understanding of their needs and a platform to illustrate it externally. Companies would gain greater knowledge about the technology needs of schools and better market their products and services by fitting them into appropriate categories within the Blueprint. Such improvements would result in greater access to schools for companies, more informed choices for schools, and longer and more fruitful relationships between them.
So, where is this Blueprint at this point in time? Well, in short, it is in progress.
For the past two years, I and others have been defining the need for the Blueprint and outlining the six strands. We have presented the idea to educational organizations, international school groups, EdTech companies, universities, accrediting agencies, curriculum boards, and government agencies to test whether the perceived need within schools truly exists. The feedback we’ve received has been astoundingly positive. Every one of these organizations has affirmed the need for the Blueprint. Many have pledged support while others are in talks on how to use it when it is done.
We officially kicked off the work on the Blueprint during FETC. By bringing together international educational technology experts to sit on these six panels, each aligning to a strand of the Blueprint, we took the time to discuss the breadth of technology impact on schools and the value the Blueprint will bring. The response at FETC was amazing with strong attendance at the panels and numerous calls for follow-up and participation.
Now the tough work begins: the construction of the Blueprint. At present, we are investigating organizational structures that will ensure the Blueprint has life beyond its creation. We are looking at best practices for intellectual property management. We are discussing participation with potential contributors to ensure we have expertise in all strands of the project. And we are looking for funding to get the project fully off the ground in the coming months.
The work is exciting and progressing nicely. In time, we will have a draft of the Blueprint to share globally and there start the process of helping all schools around the world understand the full impact, and potential, of educational technology.
If you would like to stay informed on the progress of the Blueprint, please fill out our interest form: http://edtch.co/BlueprintForm. This mailing list will be used to keep interested people up-to-date as we engage in the exciting work of mapping technology in schools.