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Take Ownership of Infrastructure Development

Effective technology leadership promotes the development of a balanced and inclusive technology infrastructure that examines assistive technology (AT), educational technology (EdTech), and information technology (InfoTech) as part of a technology ecosystem. Leadership guides with a collaborative team of diverse stakeholders in the development of a community-wide vision for technology use and create and measure a strategic technology implementation plan as part of a continuous improvement process. Implementation aids professionals in their knowledge and skills as part of a sustainable inclusive technology ecosystem.

Technology infrastructure supports learning wherever and whenever that learning takes place. In a balanced and inclusive technology ecosystem, the role of powerful learning devices and high-quality digital learning materials require considerations to ensure technology is usable for the broadest range of learner-needs. These considerations include the interoperability of the technology and accessibility of the learning materials. AT, EdTech and InfoTech leaders collectively commit to ensuring the interoperability and accessibility in learning materials and technologies. This collective commitment calls for leaders to share decision-making authority, as accessibility and interoperability decisions permeate across all areas of infrastructure, from funding to classroom use. Ensuring collective commitments to usability of resources and shared decision-making authority, districts will ensure sustainability of a balanced and inclusive technology infrastructure.

The Center for Inclusive Technology in Education Systems (CITES) has utilized a design-thinking process, in partnership with local districts, to refine a set of leadership practices that enhance the development of a balanced and inclusive technology infrastructure.

Actions that ensure ownership include:

Successful Technology Infrastructure Development: Everyone Has a Voice

Bethlehem Central School District (Delmar, New York)

Bethlehem Central School District (Delmar, New York)

Photo by UpstateNYer | CC BY-SA 3.0

Bethlehem Central School District is a suburban district of approximately 5,000 students in Delmar, New York. The district has worked collaboratively to implement a vision for technology that ensures that all voices are involved in planning as part of building an inclusive AT and edtech infrastructure supported by information technology. The district recognized that effective technology implementation to support the needs of all students requires a strong technology infrastructure of hardware, software, and broadband capacity. Working to “de-silo” departments and created shared ownership for technology infrastructure has been a critical part of building a successful and sustainable technology ecosystem in the district.

This culture change did not happen overnight – the expectation for collaboration has taken considerable time and dedication to build. For example, the district created a network technician position within the special education department. The establishment of this role allowed the district to (1) build internal capacity to support specialized hardware and software needs of teachers and students and(2) ensure that the information technology team understood both the working of the technology systems and how best to meet the needs of special education students. The involvement of both voices in infrastructure planning has helped the district avoid unintended consequences in policy and system changes that may impact the customized setups for individual students and their AT supports.

Resources

Guidance for SEA and LEA Purchasing Agents (AEM Center at CAST)

Guide to EdTech Procurement (Digital Learning Now!) 

Digital Accessibility Toolkit: What Education Leaders Need to Know (AIR/Center on Technology and Disability) 

Supporting Research

Ribeiro, J. (2016). Educational technology decision-making: technology acquisition for 746,000 ontario students. Canadian Journal of Educational Administration and Policy, (176).
The findings of this article show that senior leaders are making acquisitions that are not aligned with current scholarship, that districts struggle to use data-driven decision-making to support the governance of educational technology spending, and that districts do not have effective assessment measures in place to determine the efficacy of a purchased technology. The study is meant to serve as an informative resource for senior leaders and to present research-based approaches to technology procurement.

Williams, M. E. (2017). Technology Integration Support Levels for In-Service Teachers. Journal of Education and Practice8(7), 76-81.
The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore the perceptions of in-service teachers concerning building-level support for technology integration. The findings of the study revealed that in-service teachers have had varying experiences in building-level support for technology integration. Cooperative building-level technology driven provisions require a leader who actively supports the plight of the teachers.

Fixsen, D. L., Naoom, S. F., Blase, K. A., Friedman, R. M., Wallace, F., Burns, B., ... & Chambers, D. (2005). Implementation research: A synthesis of the literature.
This foundational article describes the state of implementation science through a synthesis of literature from a variety of fields, including education. The research indicates that thoughtful and effective implementation strategies are essential to any systematic attempt to use the products of science to improve the lives of children, families, and adults.

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