About Rollouts

Crossing my reading this morning was the article “Why do teachers struggle with technological change?”.  I’ll admit, once I started reading it, the content was different from what I had expected.  The article ended up describing a 5 year plan for technology integration.  Broken down by year, the rollout looks like this:

  • Year 1 – Plan and Test
  • Year 2 – Staff Training
  • Year 3 – Partial Rollout
  • Year 4 – Full Rollout
  • Year 5 – Embedded

Read the original article to find each of the years fully fleshed out.

I don’t think that I would argue with the steps at all.  I don’t know the details of the school district involved so it would not be fair to judge the district.  I do have some thoughts about the timeline, in the Ontario context.

Assumptions

It seems to me that the underlying assumption is that the implementation of technology is something new.  Now, the technology itself may, in fact, be new but teachers in Ontario have had access to technology  for years, dating back to the Unisys Icon years and individual initiatives before that.  Additions to the classroom, in the form of technology, shouldn’t be something new.  In most cases, it would be embraced and welcomed.  Hopefully, it would result in the retirement of older and less reliable equipment.

Training

I hate that word when it comes to teachers.  I’ve said it many times and I’m willing to be quoted “You train dogs; you don’t train teachers”.  You’re welcome to embrace any picture of this that you wish!  In the year 2015, implementation of anything should be viewed as a professional learning experience, giving honour to skills acquired in the past, and further developed as a result of the process.  At the same time, these learning experiences should include direct references to content from the Ontario Curriculum and include modelling and a discussion of the best pedagogies for student learning.  I think everyone would forego knowing that CTRL+ALT+F2+DEL+SPACEBBAR generates some funky emoticon in favour of knowing a curriculum idea that just might motivate the otherwise unreachable child.

Time Line

Where were you five years ago?  Look around your classroom; has much remained unchanged in five years?  I don’t think that technology should be treated any different.  Students and teachers are amazing creatures.  Given a great opportunity, they’ll generally take it.  Should a technology rollout project take five years?  Respecting prior knowledge of everyone, I’d prefer to see a rolling timeline.  The wonderful high end technology that you’re working with now will be pretty beat up five years from now when it’s expected to be embedded.  In addition, there’s nothing worse than an entire system of technology getting old and in need of replacement all at the same time!  Give the IT Department at least a chance of staying on top of things.  It is also worth knowing that rolling out a huge initiative does take time and resources.  The reality is that the best time for massive rollovers is in the summer when classes are not in session.

There are times when huge, massive purchases at one time may be necessary.  For the most part, a strategic, timed rollout gives everyone including the finance office, the opportunity to implement well.  Let’s not lose sight of the fact that so much of the teaching involves non-technical things as well!  We’re not going to drop everything just to make a rollout successful.

Embedding

Speaking of embedding, I don’t see it as a separate entity.  If anything in education is worth doing, it’s worth doing right.  Rather than a separate year to do it, it should be job one as the technology hits the classrooms.  On the fly, lessons and classroom activities should be adjusted to embrace the new technology.  Again, in Ontario, I think this should be just business as usual.  Technology is not a new concept.  What will be new is classroom management and richer activities that more and newer technology enables.  At the end of five years, new technologies and pedagogies should just be “the way we do things around here.”

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2 thoughts on “About Rollouts

  1. Hi Doug, I really like this blog entry. Technological change is not an event with some magical end state, it’s a constant process. Thanks for recognizing the need to give IT half a chance to keep up! The infrastructure has to be built to support such massive demands. The better we IT folks do our jobs, the less the front line sees of that. One final comment: communication is a massive part of change, and so my thinking is actually moving away from summer roll-outs – the rationale being that it is better to implement change when all parties are available to communicate and understand the new environment.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: OTR Links 05/05/2015 | doug — off the record

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