Top 5 Areas to Include in Your School District's Technology Plan

Lena Eisenstein
Establishing a technology plan for school districts is vital to student achievement and securing sensitive data. District-wide plans are effective at promoting equity among the schools within the district, leading to student success.

Properly integrating technology in the classroom can produce significant improvement in student success and increase engagement, particularly among students most at risk. By developing a technology plan for school districts, school boards are equipping teachers and administrators to transform teaching and learning to increase student engagement and achievement.

Not too long ago, the thought of implementing district wide technology plans was overwhelming and daunting. The variety in technology devices, networks, and vendors continues to make technology an intimidating topic for school boards and districts. However, it is because of this ever-changing landscape that establishing a technology plan for school districts is more imperative than ever.

Uniformity in District Technology Access

Rather than each school in the district having its own technology plan, it all of the schools within the district have standardized plans and policies.

The school board should establish uniform technology standards for the schools and classrooms within the district. It may be beneficial and more effective to have these policies broken down by grade level.

Beginning to establish a technology plan for school districts with this mindset ensures equity and uniformity among all schools, like access to the same equipment and resources.

Instructional Technology Plan for School Districts

When designing a technology plan for school districts, it could be beneficial to work with teachers and students to better understand the needs that need to be met. What areas are teachers needing more access or instruction in? In what ways can students engage and interact with technology creatively?

Districts may implement instruction and guidance for teachers in integrating technology with the classroom and curriculum. How will the school district make sure that teachers are competent in the technology they will be utilizing?

We know that technology increases student engagement and achievement, but supporting teachers to perform their best work in integrating technology into the classroom is imperative to technology being a successful resource for the district and its students.

Establishing Technology Standards

Design and implement a technology plan for school districts that encourages the responsible use of school technology and networks. Educating students and staff on cybersecurity standards and why these standards are of importance in protecting district and student information is vital to cultivating a culture that shares value in the technology standards.

Leveraging the right technology, school boards can share policies regarding technology or cybersecurity standards for continuous reference by the public, staff, or administrators (or all three!). If your board wishes to host a training on cybersecurity standards, the information related to the event can be shared through a board management software portal.

Sometimes the cost that comes with information protection can be steep, but the cost of losing sensitive data and putting the identities of innocent students is also high and irreversible. This lack of preparedness is a key factor in why school districts have become major targets for cyber attackers.

The investment in software that effectively and efficiently secures sensitive data related to the district and its students pays for itself in protecting from damages suffered from cyber attacks. When it comes to sensitive data the information should be stored on a private secure server and on sites with high-level encryption (256-bit encryption is the strongest level of security currently available).

When school boards are developing a technology plan for school districts it is imperative that they look at the features and capabilities of board management software in terms of securing sensitive data. The software should promote and support strong cybersecurity practices to protect sensitive data related to the public school district and its students.

District Technology and Security

What if a member of staff pays for an invoice that turns out to be from a fraudulent e-mail account? A Kentucky school district fell victim to a scam in which $3.7 million dollars was lost.

When leveraging any type of technology, risks are then presented. Mitigating those risks begins with effective use of a technology plan for school districts. Staff, school board members, and the community needs to know where a cybersecurity incident, like a data breach or phishing scam, should be reported. Who do these attacks get reported to? What are next steps?

The district's IT manager or team, district technological and leadership teams, and certain law enforcement agencies may need to be notified. Create a flow chart of the individuals or agencies that need to be notified based upon the scam or incident that occurs to include in the district's technology plan and standards.

Be sure that this information is available to all district staff and board members. The faster that individuals are able to report these incidents, the more likely the issue can be mitigated.

Implement these plans and procedures as district policies and technology standards. School districts have become major targets for cyber attackers due to a lack of preparedness and security regarding data. Implementing policies and standards related to cybersecurity within a technology plan for school districts is another step to protecting sensitive information and promoting good technology practice.

School boards are critical developing technology plans and standards to protect district assets and information. Boards can take several actions to prevent, mitigate, and respond to technology or cybersecurity threats through specific policies and procedures.

A Flexible Technology Plan for School Districts

Designing and putting into practice a technology plan for school districts is a significant task for school boards. The technology plan should be thoughtful, working with the vision of the district and thinking ahead to the next five to ten years.Taking measures toward improving technology practices for the district do not have to be huge undertakings. Having staff members attend training or investing a little more money into the right technology can bring your district one step closer to successfully achieving your vision.

Remember that large, district-wide plans are implemented one step at a time. Your district may even find that pieces of the plan do not work in certain schools or for the entire district. Be flexible and willing to explore other avenues or options to achieve the goals established for the district.

Keep in mind the students, teachers, and community when developing a technology plan for school districts. Establishing a technology plan will take time, and even the smallest actions lead to achieving the largest goals.

Leveraging the right technology, your school district can more easily launch a successful technology plan. A seamless board management software can assist school boards in tracking progress toward achieving goals.

A technology plan for school districts can be an overwhelming responsibility, but with an effective technology partner it can be easier to plan and implement policies, goals, and standards for your district. Keep in mind the vision and goals for your district and how technology can be integrated to better work towards those achievements.
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Lena Eisenstein
Lena Eisenstein is a former Manager at Diligent. Her expertise in mission-driven organizations, including nonprofits, school boards and local governments, centers on how technology and modern governance best practices empower leaders at these organizations to serve their communities with efficiency and purpose.