The needs assessment strategy employed was a multifaceted approach that considered both the internal and external forces motivating our reasons to consider making changes to our technology environment.
Revisions to many of the external plans with which our former plan had been linked had been. The ISTE National Educational Technology standards for Students, Teachers and Administrators, the Educational Technology Plan for New Jersey, The New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standard 8.1 for Educational Technology, and the Facilities Guide for Technology in New Jersey Schools are among them. All were placed under review and discussion by the district technology planning committee.
The exploration of these documents showed a consistent alignment with the Framework for 21st Century Learning, developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills organization. A series of phased seminars, “Creating 21st Century New Jersey Schools: The Statewide Systemic Model for Continuous Professional Learning and Growth,” have been scheduled throughout the state beginning the summer of 2009. These sessions presented various aspects of the framework, and were attended by several members of the technology planning committee for information gathering and sharing purposes.
An independent technology audit was commissioned by the superintendent of schools, with that service provided by 610 Information Systems, LLC of Voorhees, New Jersey. Evaluating the state of the organization’s information technology environment has provided us with another opportunity to reflect on our current status in each of our established planning categories, identifying the strengths and exposing the weaknesses. 601 Information Systems were asked to perform a review of the information technology department, and it consisted of interviews, review of systems documentation and walkthroughs of various buildings. They conducted their review in such a manner as to understand the mindset of management as well as the approach taken to document and follow the various policies and procedures used to administer and manage the technology assets of the district. They assert in their report that Information Technology (IT) governance is a critical issue to any organization, and they selected the COBIT 4.1 framework (promoted by the IT Governance Institute - www.itgi.org) as the established evaluation criteria. This report and all related information created during this project were reviewed, with recommendations included in this strategic plan.
The survey data gathered by user group in 2007 was revisited for review of the identified needs at that time. Rather than repeating the administration of a revised version of this survey instrument, instead, the technology planning committee launched a Blog for gathering feedback and inciting discussion regarding ways in which we could improve on the pursuit of our mission and vision as stated in this plan. This was an open-ended forum seeking posted comments on aspects of our technology environment in the context of the nine (9) identified target areas of the action plan. The information gathered here from the staff at large was invaluable in the formulation of new tasks.
Ongoing project-based planning activities by school or department through recent times have yielded real goals and objectives. Project leaders, including community members and parent-faculty organizations, have collaborated with technology staff to implement projects aligned with the continuing goals and objectives from this plan.