Advice to superintendents and principals considering having “technology goals” for staff

Don’t.

A teacher with a technology goal is like Tiger Woods with a golf club goal.  It just doesn’t make any sense.

I can spend enough money to buy the same golf clubs Tiger Woods uses and that might encourage me to spend more time and money at the golf course, but it will not impart his skills upon me.  It will not help me achieve the goal of winning a golf tournament.  It simply helps me accumulate more stuff. 

A teacher who walks in to a principal’s office and says, “I met my technology goal,” is like a contractor who shows you a portfolio of his or her tool box during your interview.  Why?  Would you rather judge your contractor-to-be based on previous projects that show fruits of the labor?

 The only thing more stuff is guaranteed to change is the amount of space you have available or not.  If the stuff plugs in, having more of it may guarantee a higher electric bill, too.

I haven’t done a sophisticated research study on this, but I would wager a bet that the quality of the teacher and interactions with the curriculum a student experiences has far greater effect on learning the intended curriculum than the newness of the stuff a teacher has incidental access to.  I have tweeted more than once, “I would rather have a smart teacher with a dumb board than vice versa.”  Of course, I don’t think it has to be an OR here, but still, the goal should not be about the stuff.

One of my new favorite blog posts is Let me save you $6,162.48.  “You can’t buy change” is a great quote.

What do you hope to accomplish?  “Using the interactive whiteboard more” is not what I mean here.  What I mean is the kinds of goals you will arrive at by asking questions “Why use the interactive whiteboard?  What difference does it make for students? How? Why? Under what conditions?”  

If you allow teachers to create technology goals, you may just be taking two steps back from supporting them realizing the potential of the power of integrating technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge to positively impact learning instead of the giant leap forward you may think.

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