18-09-15-_-The-four-Ps

The 4 P’s of Adding, Changing, and Managing Technology in a School District

In 500 B.C., philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesos theorized that “life is flux.” In other words, wise Heraclitus believed that everything or all things change. In fact, he believed that change is the only constant in life.

What could this possibly have to do with your school district’s IT team? As technology innovations race forward, his notion of accepting that change is inevitable is most likely the mantra of the school district IT department.

How does an IT team member stay sane with all the choices to be made in updating, adding, and managing new devices, apps, and network infrastructure in a school district? Remember the four P’s. With the chaos of a changing tech landscape, you’d be surprised to find that none of them are Prozac.

The Four P’s

Plan

It’s imperative that a school’s overall plan is kept in mind when any new technology is added to their list of resources. When weighing options on adding new iPads, Chromebooks, or new apps, refer to the school district’s overall mission. Does the new or updated technology align with the mission statement? Can you explain how it aligns? If not, cross it off the list. Stick with the plan.

Change is inevitable, as Heraclitus said. Plan for technology that reinforces that idea.  The more scalable the technology is, the more likely it is that it will fit into the the technology plan in the future. Plan on purchasing larger items such as network infrastructure and network management software first to create an overall framework. This will allow smaller “toys,” like devices and apps, to be useful for longer periods. Here’s a great article from Scholastic with even more school technology planning tips.

Policy
When adding, changing, or updating school technology, always look at the school’s acceptable use policy (AUP). Does the new technology follow the existing policy? It’s likely a new software, app, or networking product will have functions that are not covered in an AUP. To make necessary changes, form a team right away to add the updates. Make sure to communicate these changes to all the school’s stakeholders once the new technology is adopted and implemented. You can find some good strategies for communicating AUP’s here.

Procedure

Any and every change to a school’s technology plan requires a following procedure. Otherwise, how will folks know how to use or adapt to the change? A procedure for classroom technology use should be written and distributed to everyone using the new gadgets well before they arrive in the IT office.

Teachers — who eat, sleep, and breathe planning — should be notified of procedure and the time frame for when to expect changes as far in advance as possible. If it can be arranged, provide teachers procedures for use of new technology prior to setting up or deployment so they can feel confident and prepared. Explain the benefits and policies of the new technology, and provide resources for communicating those to students and parents.

Positivity

As stated above, it is important to convey the positive benefits of the new or changed technology to everyone who will be touched by it. It’s assumed that other people just “know” that a new device, app, or network change is helpful to teachers or students. However, that is not always the case. Teachers and school staff are busy educating, and they may not be up on the latest and greatest in ed tech. Simply communicating the positivity of changes can make a world of difference to individuals affected by change.

Change is Constant

When adding, changing, and managing new technology in your school, just remember: Heraclitus said life is flux. Change is inevitable. It is our attitudes, planning, preparation, and willingness to accept change that makes the difference. And of course, summer break and snow days don’t hurt either.

You history and philosophy buffs can read all about Heraclitus here.

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