In 2016, Indiana managed to replace an outdated technology plan system that had proven resistant to change for many years. The opportunity began in 2015 with the FCC’s E-Rate Modernization Order (FCC 14-99), which completely eliminated the requirement for schools to submit a technology plan. One of the goals set out in this order was to make the application process for schools “fast, simple, and efficient.” Although a tech plan is still required in Indiana Code (IC 20-20-13-7, 2005), we felt that state requirements still provided us the flexibility to simplify our process considerably.
The reporting process for Indiana’s directors of technology went from two days of work, to more like two hours. We did this by changing the kinds of questions we asked as well as the level of detail that we were requiring. In every case, we sought only that data which would be useful to share. Instead of getting pages of copied and pasted metrics for each individual school, we asked each technology leader to share information about their district decision-making, as well as the choices they have made. We remain interested in how our leaders are funding their innovation, but instead of asking for detailed budget tables that are impossible to analyze for 400 districts (much less 1800 schools), we gathered information on the various funding streams each LEA harnesses to fund technology. Being able to publish that information more broadly is most likely to be informative to those looking for ideas, and leads to connections and conversations where the details can be shared.
The new plan was designed as a simple survey, and as much as possible, standard responses were put into drop-down menus. This has allowed us to group responses into some very consumable statewide infographics. The new questions were also developed with massive input from LEA technology leaders and vendor partners alike. This helped us confirm that what we asked covered topics they were interested in, and that the response options were sufficient to cover what was going on in our districts. Putting our most common device types in a drop-down menu, for example, allowed us to link those responses to pictures on a map in a way that would have been impossible if we had used an open text box.
While the ease of completion was praised by our CTOs and Technology Directors, it is the data we are now able to share that has made this change a huge success. In just a few months, we’ve heard from districts using it to establish which options to consider,
vendors who are excited to see concrete evidence of trends, and researchers who are thrilled with the access to current, accurate, and relevant data. Most importantly for our Office of eLearning, we are finally able to answer with confidence (and examples) about all of the exciting work going on in Indiana!
Jason Bailey is the Senior eLearning Strategist for the Indiana Department of Education (IDOE). As a member of the state’s office of eLearning, his work is to provide leadership and support in digital innovation for Indiana classrooms. A former teacher, technology specialist, and district administrator, Jason’s work at the district level included leading a talented team of eLearning Coaches and Technology Specialists in integrating a wealth of technology, including 1:1 computing for more than 14,000 students in grades 6-12. With degrees from Ball State University and the University of Southern Indiana, Jason recently completedhis Ph.D. in Educational Leadership at Indiana State University. He was also one of the first recipients of CoSN’s Certified Education Technology Leader (CETL) designation. Past honors include participation in various white papers, keynote speaking at state level conferences, and publication in Educational Leadership (2002).