Thoughts on developing an IT Strategy

Strat_smallI am in the process of developing a 4 to 5 year IT strategy however how do we create a strategy for IT when we cannot predict what new technologies and Apps may exist?     Technology is evolving at a fast paced rate with iOS 9 recently being released along with Windows 10 to name just 2 major software releases.     iPads continue to be very popular for use in classrooms however the Google Chromebook is making significant inroads.   Windows Surface tablets are still relatively expensive and therefore uncommon however this may change over time as new technologies and devices become cheaper as they always do.

3D projection technology currently is, as far as I am concerned, a little bit of a gimmick with limited usefulness other than in specific subjects.     A nice thing for the limited student engagement during its initial deployment or for impressing parents on school tours however questionable in terms of impact in the wider context of the academic teaching year and versus the purchasing cost of the required devices.

Gamification merits a mention however I may be raising here due to my own sons love for Minecraft.   In fact I believe, as other do, that gamification is not limited to software and IT but extends beyond to turning learning into a game even if this is a physical board, counter or ball game.      As such I am not sure Gamification would need including in an IT strategy as it may actually be better placed in the overall teaching pedagogy strategy.

3D Printing is another newer technology often making an appearance in discussions of educational technology.    I feel there may be significant opportunities here in terms of IT strategy in engaging students in Makerspaces where they make use of technology to produce solutions to real problems.   As such ongoing development and exploration of how 3D printing technologies can be used may merit a place in the IT Strategy I am developing.

It is very difficult to judge what technologies will be available to us over the next 4 or 5 years, what the costs will be, what new uses will have been discovered and overall how the IT technology world will develop.   Given this it is clear that a focus on the technologies isn’t going to work.

In reality the question is not what technologies we are going to use as technology is but a tool.   What really matters is how we use this tool.    Given this my IT strategy doesn’t focus on what we will use but on what we hope to gain from the use of technology.   We want to develop students that are collaborative, communicative, solvers of problems, critical thinkers, resilient individuals, individuals of character, members of a global and local society as well as being tolerant plus possessing a growth mindset.   We want to deliver great learning experiences both within and beyond the classroom that stimulate and engage students.    We want teachers that are confident in using technology where appropriate to redefine how they teach.   We want to use technology to engage parents in the learning journey of their children and the engage the local community and wider world in the work of the school.   We also want technology that is safe, reliable, resilient and flexible.

It is the above which is the strategy and not the technologies we will eventually use.   It is the above which paints the picture of what we hope to achieve through the use of IT as a tool.    From the above we can then create our initial operational plan for the year ahead and initial outlines for the coming year or and beyond confident in the fact that the operational plan may change as new technologies, ideas and approaches become available however we will forever continue working towards the originally developed strategic outcomes.

 

Image courtesy of basketman at FreeDigitalPhotos.net 

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Author: garyhenderson2014

Gary Henderson is currently the Director of IT in an Independent school in the UK. Prior to this he worked as the Head of Learning Technologies working with public and private schools across the Middle East. This includes leading the planning and development of IT within a number of new schools opening in the UAE. As a trained teacher with over 15 years working in education his experience includes UK state secondary schools, further education and higher education, as well as experience of various international schools teaching various curricula. This has led him to present at a number of educational conferences in the Middle East. In addition Gary is a Google and Microsoft Certified Educator.

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