Last week I learned that Texas has a Long Range Plan for Technology, 2006-2020. The plan makes recommendations in four areas:
- Teaching and Learning;
- Educator Preparation and Development;
- Leadership, Administration and Instructional Support;
- and Infrastructure for Technology.
The plan includes a vision for each area and recommendations to all stakeholders. The stakeholders are the Texas Education Agency, Regional Education Service Centers, Local Education Agencies, Texas Higher Education, Parents, Communities, and the Private Sector. Programs such as the Target Tech in Texas (T3) grant are helping to provide the funding needed to create a 21st century classroom, but without adequate infrastructure in schools the resources will not benefit the students.
Success in the Infrastructure for Technology area is critical in the success of the other three areas. The plan calls for high-speed access to applications, online learning, data, video, and audio. Educators, students, and parents must have 24/7 access to the education system. A quality technical staff is needed to keep the infrastructure operating at the optimum level of reliability, security, and flexibility. Infrastructure is the foundation of the Texas Long Range Plan for Success.
Progress towards meeting the 2020 Vision is tracked by using data gathered from the Teacher STaR (School Technology and Readiness) Chart and the Campus STaR chart. In November 2006, the Long Range Plan for Technology stated that
“Not all districts, campuses, and classrooms have the connectivity and tools that they need to integrate technology into the teaching and learning process” (page 36).
The STaR Chart ranks level of progress into four areas: Early Tech; Developing Tech; Advanced Tech; and Target Tech. In the Campus Statewide Summary by Key Area, 2005-2006, 54.9% of the state campuses were classified as either Early Tech or Developing Tech. The 2007-2008 Campus Statewide Summary shows that 36.1% are Early Tech or Developing Tech. This shows that some progress has been made in moving campuses towards the 2020 goal, but much more is required to meet the requirements of the Long Range Plan for Technology.
While some campuses have moved from Developing Tech to Advanced Tech other campuses are at a stand still. In the Dallas ISD the broadband speed is inadequate. In 2007 the district implemented the use of an online grade book which increased the demand for bandwidth. This year the district implemented online attendance using a different online program. The network is extremely slow and unstable. Network resources should be improved to meet the current demands of the online grade book, attendance, and basic internet access. If the infrastructure is improved to meet the current needs more Dallas ISD Campus STaR charts should show at least Advanced Tech in the area of Infrastructure. Then improve the network further to allow educators, students, and parents the necessary 24/7, anywhere access required to meet the 2020 Vision.