• by Miguel Guhlin, M.A. • IDRA Newsletter • January 1998 • 

A British political scientist once said, “We must plan our civilization or we must perish.” Many Texas school districts will do just that if they fail to plan for technology integration. But, as another saying goes, “Education is plagued by fads.” While technology is not a fad, many may continue to treat it as such. The STAR Center* Excellence and Equity through Technology (EETNet) institute was designed to build technology planning endurance, to help school districts plan this new networked, Internet civilization that our children will have to learn in and build.

Let me share some of the important things the EETNet planners and facilitators learned, as well as the comments EETNet participants made via an on-line discussion group. My goal is to share my understanding of what EETNet is, as well as talk a little about the participants in the first EETNet institute. First, a little background on the network.

What is the Excellence and Equity through Technology Network (EETNet)?

Title I schoolwide campuses in Texas had and will continue to have the opportunity to participate in a joint project facilitated by a regional education service center, the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) and the STAR Center* (www.starcenter.org). This collaborative supports participating schools in a multi-year effort designed to increase achievement for all students through innovative instruction that is technology-enhanced.

Activities include an on-line needs assessment to provide immediate electronic feedback to each campus team, hands-on introductions to cutting-edge instructional technologies, individual consultations with experts in the areas of instructional technology and school reform, and the opportunity to engage in long-range technology planning supported by a network of colleagues and technical assistance providers.

In order to participate, schools had to meet the following criteria:

Have Title I schoolwide programs.

Be representative of the diversity of the region:

  • District and campus size.
  • Educational level (elementary school, middle/junior high school, high school).
  • Geographic (urban and rural).
  • Language, culture, race and ethnicity.

Provide evidence of a pro-active interest in using technology to improve instruction, for example:

  • A technology committee that is looked to for leadership.
  • A vision and mission statement for technology that guides campus decision-making.
  • Several staff members who are at intermediate or advanced levels of knowledge about technology and several others interested in increasing their knowledge base.
  • Above average student and teacher access to technology.

Express a commitment to a long-term pursuit of excellence and equity through technology by agreeing to:

  • Send a campus team of at least four members to the institute.
  • Create (or refine) a five-year campus plan for technology and submit it for review to other EETNet participants.
  • Return for a two-day follow-up institute.
  • Participate in on-line discussions with other institute participants via the Internet during the school year.

Participating school teams receive a notebook consisting of materials integral to successful technology planning. In addition to use of the web site, school teams are able to share their experiences via on-line discussion groups.

Where Can You Access EETNet Materials?

The Education Service Center Region 20 agreed to host the EETNet web site (www.esc20.k12.tx.us/techserv/eetnet). It features an on-line discussion group, on-line materials with PowerPoint slide shows and handouts, web resources of the month, legislative actions and a variety of suggested, proven strategies to use in the technology planning process. The EETNet web site offers its statewide members a “home base.” But, more than that, it offers anyone who is involved in technology planning a model to follow, from a myriad of approaches to a people-centered process of planning for technology integration.

How Will EETNet Participants Continue Their Technology Planning?

The EETNet discussion focuses on achieving the three goals below.

Goal #1:

Maintain a high level of interaction between EETNet participants on-line. In this first example, an EETNet member is asking a question regarding TIE grants. Blanca Hemann, an education specialist for technology services at Region 20 responds to the following query.

From: Jay Fulton, Kennedy HS

Date: 9/1/97 Time: 3:11:35 PM

Remote Name:

Blanca, Hi, this is Jay Fulton from Kennedy HS. Yesterday I met with Javier Uribe and we were discussing the TIE grant. Can you give us some clarification on a point? We know that we need to join with a private school. They need to be within our district, correct? Do they need to be directly within our school’s boundaries (e.g., Holy Cross HS is really closer to Memorial HS, which apparently has no technology focus – could we team up with them, or do we need to team up with St. John Berchmann’s, which is just at the end of our block). Second, do we need to have the school assess the number of Title I students that it has who would attend our school? (e.g., The number of their students, who, if attending JFK, would be considered Title I with free lunch, etc…). Third, do we need to have the schools determine how many of their students actually live in our district boundaries? Or do we just count the number of students that they have and go on from there? Any assistance that you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for an enjoyable and informative workshop! 🙂

Sincerely, Jay Fulton, Kennedy HS (jfulton@solutions.kennedyhs.emg.com)

Re: For Blanca – Q on TIE Grant
From: Blanca Hemann, ESC 20 barizpe@tenet.edu
Date: 9/3/97 Time: 5:49:02 PM

Kennedy HS posted the following questions concerning the TIE grant. What follows is the list of questions and responses. Hopefully, this message will give some guidance and clarification.
Question #1: Does the private school need to be within your school boundaries? No, the private school needs to be within your school district boundaries. However, we would recommend that you make an attempt to contact both Memorial HS and Holy Cross HS to show you tried to extend the offer to all parties.

Question #2: Do we need to have the private school assess the Title I student enrollment? Yes. Look at Part I, Appendix Three in your TIE Request for Application booklet.

Question #3: Do we need to have the private school assess the number of students that live within the district boundaries or count the private school’s total enrollment? Use the private school’s total enrollment.
Let us know if we can be of further help. Good Luck!

Goal #2:

Allow teams of teachers and administrators to post information as a group, rather than as specific individuals. The web-based discussion group does not require an e-mail address, although participants are encouraged to get an e-mail account. For example, the following message was posted by Bellaire Elementary EETNet Team from Harlandale ISD in San Antonio.

To: Bellaire Smarts

From: the bobcats

Date: 8/29/97 Time: 3:16:49 PM.

    1. We learned what Bellaire needs to improve the technology status.
    2. We thought out of the box and developed a community center project.
    3. We developed a vision statement to drive the work ahead.
    Follow-up: The committee will meet on a regular basis. The committee will meet with Jo McCollum, our district supervisor, to devise a training plan. The team will develop a standard operating procedures manual for the school. We will upgrade the current technology and, by May of 1998, have all teachers on the Internet.

Goal #3:

Respond to regular assignments related to technology planning and encourage participants to share how they are continuing the process of technology planning at their campus.

From: moderator

Date: 8/29/97 Time: 3:32:09 PM

Region 20 EETNet campus teams:

On Friday, August 29, you developed the first two pieces of your campus technology plan: the vision statement and some goals and objectives for the four long range plan areas (teaching and learning, educator preparation and development, administration and support services, and infrastructure for technology). You also engaged in some activities that helped you assess your technology needs (Learning with Technology Profile Tool; first Blue Skies picture).

We are sure that you have gone forward with the planning process at your schools and may have even begun implementing some new things. To bring us up to date, by Sept. 20 please post the following to the discussion group: needs assessment – summary statement of what your team found to be the strengths and needs of your current technology situation; vision statement – as you created it at Region 20; goals and objectives – your Region 20 set plus whatever new ones you have added; and action plan time line.

Reflections on EETNet via the Discussion Group

The first EETNet Institute received many comments from participants via the discussion group:

“I’ve enjoyed sharing and learning about technology at different schools. Having a mission statement and goals and objectives makes me feel much more secure about our future progress. I am anxious to return this spring and see how we’ve all progressed.”

“I learned that as educators from several different districts we share many common concerns and problems. As follow-up, I will arrange and provide staff development in using our computers as educational tools.”

“We have just completed the most exciting training ever. These presenters must have escaped from a circus act. They are all such hams. We can’t wait for them to come and inflict this training on all at Brackett ISD. See ya (that’s short for you if you’re a Yankee) soon!!!”

“This has been an exciting experience. I was introduced to the potential of technology assisted instruction. I plan to use technology in my future workshops and become computer literate.”

It is clear that participants and facilitators were excited about what they learned at the EETNet Institute. Perhaps the reason for that was not that we spent so much time on using technology as on sharing and discussing real people concerns. As Aurelio Montemayor, IDRA staff member and EETNet facilitator, stated, “Remember that we began together without all the technology…and now, in this circle, we end without all the technology. That’s important.”

Spring 1998 EETNet Follow-up Institute

Some of the topics being considered for the spring follow-up institute include the following:

  • Revisit budget development: refining, how to spend money, etc.
  • Grant writing in greater detail.
  • Samples of funded program proposals.
  • How to deal with vendors (separating the wheat from the chaff). Support? Small issues such as buying a software vs. hardware infrastructure.
  • How to deal with techno-phobia among teachers.
  • Conversations about software from other users. Recommendations and cautions. Show-and-tell top 10 picks. Software companies and manufacturers.
  • Models from schools that are using technology successfully. Showcase campuses that are using a variety of technologies successfully.

One of the key points that we need to consider as educators who use technology is that we must plan for the future, whether that future be tomorrow or the next century. Jeanne Martinez, one of the EETNet planners and Region 20 technology services coordinator, highlighted this point when she shared the following proverb at the end of her presentation on the ideal plan for Texas schools: “Dig a well before you are thirsty.”

If you think it is time to start digging, contact Dr. Chris Green (feedback@idra.org) at IDRA to find out how you might be able to get involved in this free technology planning institute being hosted around Texas.

This article is reprinted from The Tech Edge with permission from the author and the Texas Computer Education Association.

* The STAR Center is the comprehensive regional assistance center funded by the U.S. Department of Education to serve Texas. It is a collaboration of the Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA), the Charles A. Dana Center at the University of Texas at Austin, and RMC Research Corporation. For information about STAR Center services call 1-888-FYI-STAR.

Miguel Guhlin, MA, is an educational specialist and TENET master trainer for Education Service Center Region 20. Comments and questions may be sent to him via e-mail at mguhlin@ esc20.k12.tx.us.

[©1998, IDRA. This article originally appeared in the January 1998 IDRA Newsletter by the Intercultural Development Research Association. Permission to reproduce this article is granted provided the article is reprinted in its entirety and proper credit is given to IDRA and the author.]