Critical DiscoveriesMaintenance Enterprise architecture (EA) must be intentionally maintained. A few years ago, my district's administrative team and technology staff worked together to create a technology plan. Teachers and principals knew who to contact for support, what tools were available, how to access technology professional development, and that we were working toward one-to-one devices. Systems were in place to inform the district's leadership team through a technology pilot group, a technology committee, and resource teachers who worked directly with classroom teachers and their students. However, this has dissolved under a new administrative team. In some areas, the district's technology use has outgrown the old systems. For example, devices and learning tool subscription purchases are underutilized because the teachers are no longer receiving technology professional development. In order for EA to succeed, it must be valued by district leadership.
Systems EA provides systems that lead to cohesion. EA frameworks help district leaders to shape and articulate how districts, and systems within the districts, function. While creating frameworks, leaders must document what services are being offered, who is responsible for services, the relationships between services, and how services support district goals. This framework can also serve as a guide to help prevent counterproductive decisions from being made. For example, due to my district's underdeveloped EA, students are provided with one-to-one Chromebooks and Google Apps for Education, but the instructional coaches lead professional development encouraging the use of paper composition books as a learning tool. Without EA, districts, like mine, deliver contradictory services to students and teachers.
Future PlanningStrong EA helps districts to plan for future growth and requirements. By using tools, such as technology bricks, districts are able to plan ahead to strengthen current practices. This also helps leaders and staff to focus on current and future standards. Additionally, EA can help district leaders to systematically prepare for future goals and requirements from outside agencies, such as Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium Testing and the Future-Ready Schools Initiative. By looking ahead, technology leaders are able to plan and implement small steps that will help the district gradually prepare for the desired future state.
Educational Technology LeaderAs a result of this course, I am now able to recognize that many of the frustrations district teachers and leaders face can be prevented and solved by stronger EA. On a very immediate level, this motivates me to strengthen the architecture of my own classroom. It ha also helped me to realize that I want to work for a district with strong EA or at least a district whose existing EA supports educational technology. When I am in a district leadership position, I hope to participate in districtwide EA development and/or governance. I also hope to develop smaller EA frameworks aligned with my site and position in order to effectively communicate with my team and plan ahead for growth that will best support students.
To return to one of my favorite comparisons, computer labs are becoming obsolete. Likewise, technology is no longer an accessory to education. Instead, technology is integrated into teaching, learning, and school business. This applies to the practice of districts maintaining separate education plans and technology plans. Technology plans complement education plans and education plans are supported by technology plans. It is illogical and impractical to craft and maintain two separate plans--or to to expect students to walk to a computer lab to access the internet during lessons. Instead, districts should aim to craft thorough enterprise architecture plans that address how technology can be used and maximized to support teaching and learning.