In order to write a Digital Strategy, you need to work as a team. Edtech leaders will need to work closely not just with their peers, but representatives from the whole school community. This includes a consideration of the parent body, a student voice, the flexibility and limitations your school’s IT hardware and networks. Finally… you need your Board/Governors/Local Authority to approve the expenditure. These people are essential voices that you must bring around the table if your digital strategy is to succeed. You cannot complete a task like this alone.
If the last bit terrified you, then don’t worry, it also terrified me. Pitching to Board members wasn’t in my PGCE training. This is why you need a plan… to write the plan. Al Kingsley and Mark Anderson wrote a book about this called A Guide To Creating A Digital Strategy In Education, which you can find in the link below. This wonderful book is full of tips to create a Digital Strategy that is tailored for your school, with all parts of the school community included.
Perhaps you have started writing your Digital Strategy to move forward with the skills your school has learnt over the period of COVID19 distance learning. What to keep and what to chuck seems to be playing on people’s minds as we go into week 5 (or more!) of distance schooling.
Or perhaps your school already has educational technology, but the responsibility of the technology is the job of the Heads of Departments, therefore you have 84 apps and passwords your students need to remember as they move through their schooling.
Or perhaps you are a new school about to start it’s educational technology ventures (welcome to Edtech!) and you are wanting to share your vision of sustainable and responsible use of edtech to support student development with the parents, school leadership and the students.
The last one, in terms of strategy, is the best place to be. A blank slate means whatever goals you agree upon can be neatly implemented and tracked. However, you probably already know that we had to start with option two: We had a school community that were users of technology in primary and secondary, but with no clear direction on the long term goals for the students and the teachers. Not only was this confusing the daily learning environment, it was wasting a lot of money for the school.
The people you need around the table
Your Digital Strategy has the potential to touch teaching and learning, pastoral, financial and communication policies. It is important that you have people involved to ensure the Strategy you develop is balanced and towards common goal. The role of technology in the school is to support the pillars of school life, not lead them. We keep the following involved in our Digital Strategy fortnightly meetings, however, there are many more in the Digital Strategy Team, with the ability to see our paperwork and action plans.
- Deputy Head of Teaching and Learning (Secondary)
- Deputy Head Primary
- Edtech Lead Secondary
- Edtech Lead Primary
- IT Manager
Our Heads of Primary and Secondary, our Director and our external consultants were added to the Digital Strategy Microsoft Team that we have made so we can all talk together effectively. Added to this, you will need to incorporate a time and method to collecting student, parent and teacher voice to ensure your strategy is working for all areas of the community.
Your long term strategy needs to include measurable objectives.
Our 5 Year long term strategy was then created. It is important to keep the plan flexible as the years go on. Therefore, the first years have more information than the last ones. Our 5 Year strategy is broken down into 5 equal branches that include measurable objectives at the end of each year. An example is included right at the bottom of the page.
The detailed ADKAR plan for each year.
Because we already had a legacy of using technology in our classrooms, I used a change transformation template in order to create a medium term plan for each year. the ADKAR model was used:
- Awareness- What needs to be done to generate an awareness that change is needed.
- Desire- What needs to be done to generate a desire that change is positive to the community.
- Knowledge- What knowledge needs to be communicated in order for change to take place.
- Ability- What do you want people to be able to do with their knowledge? (this one can be measurable).
- Reflection- How will the school, and individuals within the school be able to reflect on their progress and identify their next steps? (This can also be measurable).
From this medium term plan, we created a dated Road Map in order to keep our team on track for where we wanted to be by the end of year one! Again, the example to this is included at the bottom of the page.
A footnote to this, now that I am in my reflection stage of the first year.
The ADKAR model helped us write a Road Map. However, your carefully curated dates only work if all of you in your team are able to be held accountable by everyone else. The inherent difficultly of such a diverse team of SLT, middle leaders and administrators, is buy in from each level, with everything else happening in the school. What worked for us was creating a network of teacher Digital Architects to help me train and disperse information, student leaders to help roll out initiatives and help students, and creating training and tips using videos and handouts, as well as dedicated CPD days and sessions. Having the network of help will be invaluable if you are the Edtech Lead as well as a full time teacher. And, even if you are not a full time teacher, no person can possibly be physically there for everyone, all the time! Our strategy has helped bring our school together to begin to build a cohesive community, which is more cost effective, which provides and creates an efficient and clear working environment for teachers an students alike.