5 critical factors to technology success in the classroom

Facing the end of the first decade of a millenium where students are have been ‘born-digital’, we are painfully aware that some people are adapting better than others, and in the disagreement over what should be done about it AND the jokeying for financial and intellectual superiority (nope, I’m not on Huffington Post – are you?) I think a lot of people are tired of it to be quite honest. There’s more at stake than getting everyone on Classroom2.0 to vote for themselves – and a real danger that this decade will be remembered more for fatigue than actual change.

In 2011, there remains a key job to be done – to separate out the subtle sell of a tiring message to a new audience, essentially ‘we need reform, you need to hear me talk about it as a keynote’ into essential pragmatism of useful information and advice on how to do it.

So, in doing that – I’m shamelessly using the sorrowful list post format (as it’s the best way to drive traffic apparently) – from references made in 2003 by Elaine Van Melle, Luigia Cimellaro and Lyn Shulha in  A Dynamic Framework to Guide the Implementation and Evaluation of Educational Technologies published not on the Huffington Post, but Education and Information Technologies Volume 8, Number 3, 267-285.

There’s a lot of sense in the extensive review they undertook – but to save you the hassle of digging it out of academia, here is what they say – and it’s worth noting how relevant this pre-Web2.0 discussion is being recycled still at the end of the decade.


“If you’re headed in the wrong direction, technology won’t help you get to the right place”

  • Specific areas for improvement have been identified based on student needs
  • Use of ICT clearly linked to a manageable number of identified student learning needs
  • ICT initiatives are tied to larger systemic developments (e.g., developments in learning theories and shifts in societal expectations


“Teachers who were the most effective implementers bridged computer technology with classroom instruction”

  • Technology is integrated into the practice of teaching
  • The technology being used is tried and true and not in danger of becoming obsolete
  • Technology is readily accessible


“Key IT challenges involve people, NOT products”

  • Teacher training, that addresses both skill development and pedagogical issues is readily available
  • Administrative support is apparent
  • Technical support is readily available


“Plan for the future – start thinking about the potential role 2, 5, 10 years from now”

  • Sufficient resources are allocated to maintain existing ICT activities
  • There is a plan for the future
  • Evaluation is built-in and includes the measurement of intended as well as unintended effects


“For ICT initiatives to succeed, you need a group of key people who say this idea is too important to fail. This means creating tightly coupled systems to share information, coordinate activities and work on problems”

  • Partnerships with external stakeholders are vital
  • The local community is actively involved
  • Technical, administrative and professional staff function collaboratively

7 thoughts on “5 critical factors to technology success in the classroom

  1. Great post Dean. Couldn’t agree more! More relevant than ever! And why aren’t we paying our students to present ‘how it worked in my classroom’ as a keynote? In our experience, Students of all ages can deliver the message so much more clearly.

  2. This is a great and… now that you bring it back from the paper grave… timeless list.

    I do wonder this: Can we meaningfully implement these changes in the current system? Is there enough time? Is the money available? Are the curriculums flexible enough to allow partnerships and projects that stretch beyond what’s on the next standardized test?

    In a recent post I said, “I think we are at a point of transition now where teachers are often learning to use tools as they teach with them & so a few key things are needed to help foster effectiveness:
    1. Time- Pro-D, preparation, planning & play
    2. Co-teaching & collaboration opportunities
    3. Models & Mentorship
    We spend so much time making learning a social experience for students, but I think most of a teacher’s career is spent in an isolated learning environment. That’s why so many people in my twitter network are hooked on their pln… because it offers them the rich learning experience they desire,but can’t find in their schools and districts.
    But in thinking about change, I wonder if it is just the need to learn tools, as we need them, that is the issue or is the entire structure of teaching as a profession the real issue?”

    I now find myself in a position of (perceived?) power (as a principal of a school), with no time to provide the support needed to overworked teachers who would like nothing more than to engage in all 5 areas of your list… but spend their ‘spare’ time marking and assessing reading levels and prepping for the next of their 6 or 7 classes for the next day.

    Can we meaningfully hit all 5 of these without making a teacher’s day look different, with time embeded within the day for collaboration and teaming and learning?

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  4. great ideas but how to find the people to implement them on the scale that is needed to prove its worth, not to the teachers but to the parents and the students who should be the driving force behind all great educational change.

    • The people are buried underneath layers of time served – but they exist. The focus on teachers is a convenience not ‘the’ solution in my view. Stephen Downes recently talked about this much better that I can.

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