The goal of any technology initiative is to improve student learning. Teachers and administrators at all levels (state, local, school) devote time and allocate funding for technology implementation in an effort to enhance teaching and learning for all students. But how do you know when it’s working?
No matter where you are in the implementation process – whether adopting a brand-new technology implementation initiative, or revisiting and revising an existing plan – making informed decisions based on data collection is essential to ensure you meet your goals. Evaluation strategies, which form the basis of a cycle of continuous improvement, allow education leaders to adjust strategies, shift resources, and realign timelines to better meet changing goals.
Ideally, an evaluation plan is mapped out during the early stages of developing the initiative, but realistically, many evaluations begin well after the initiative is already underway. But whatever stage you are at in the implementation process, it’s never too late to start!
Before you start developing the evaluation plan, gather as much information as you can, for example:
- State or district technology plans
- Results of previous evaluations
- Previous data collection activities (e.g., stakeholder feedback)
- Results of needs assessments (e.g., teacher requested professional development topics)
- Examples of technology integration in district and school (e.g., 1:1 devices, software, learning management systems)
- Meeting minutes from when technology purchasing plans were discussed and decisions were made
- Information from key decision makers involved in the implementation plan
Next, determine the purpose of your evaluation – Unpack what you hope to achieve by conducting an evaluation, for instance:
- Information on what elements of the technology plan are working as expected
- Existing problems and how to address them
- Potential problems and steps to avoid them
- Feedback from stakeholders (e.g., students, teachers, parents)
- Preferred topics and delivery methods of professional development or technical assistance for teachers
- Overall impact of the technology plan
You may have more than one purpose, but a primary purpose should be to focus on continuous improvement. Evaluation results mean little if they are not used to understand what works and what doesn’t, and to make decisions about improving teaching and learning for all students.
Explore some of our resources on implementation research and evaluation.