Campus Technology Planning, Part 1 – Fly Fishing and Establishing a Vision

Cross-posted at Bump on the Blog

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before around here, but one of my real passions in life is fly fishing. Living in the desert southwest doesn’t really allow me the opportunity to go as often as I’d like, but with rivers like the San Juan, Red, Cimarron, and Conejos within a day’s drive, a quick get away isn’t too difficult. I was introduced to fly fishing nearly ten years ago by a teacher friend of mine, and ever since I’ve been hooked (bad pun intended…sorry!). Today, I was reading through some of the fly fishing blogs I subscribe to, when I came across this one from the Trout Underground blog that speaks about the joy found in reading maps. From the entry:

In the backcountry, a map is a guide. You’re “here” and you want to be “there,” and the map helps make that transition possible.

On your living room table, a map is a completely different animal.

It’s not a guide as much as it is an icon of possibility; a window to what can be, if only you had the time, the weather and the legs.

In simplest terms, a map is hope in print form.

With careful planning and a cup of coffee, you can take upwards of a dozen fishing trips — without ever leaving your living room…

…Those who see a map as nothing more than lines and directions might want to rent an imagination prior to planning their next trip, if only to see what they’ve been missing.

I’ve always enjoyed reading maps, studying them, planning for upcoming fishing trips, or for trips that may be far off in the future. Next week I’ll be working with two elementary schools, helping them map out and plan for their own trips, of sorts. Together we’ll be hammering out a long-range technology plan. I’ve already begun the process by asking teachers to answer a survey and reflect on where they are and where they’d like to be, as a campus, five years from now. The responses have been interesting to read thus far. Here are a couple of responses that I’ve found particularly interesting:

Have each teacher develop individual goals. We are all at different points in the adoption curve — some people might need baby-step goals and pressure to make changes while others are ready for bigger projects.

Curriculum needs to be “loosened up” not only to meet TAKS objectives, but to also allow time in the instructional day to utilize and facilitate use of technology for class lessons and assignments. All this glitzy machinery will be of no use if teachers’ hands are tied by a lock-step curriculum that provides no time in the teaching day for individual creativiyy in project design by teachers.

Taking into account these teacher “visions”, as well as those put forth by SBEC, the Tech App TEKS, and the Texas STaR chart, the first task I will be asking the campus technology teams to complete will be to establish their own vision and put into writing where they see their campuses going over the next five years. Why start here? It is critical that each of these campuses, and yours as well if you’re in the process of developing a long-range plan, begin at the end. We need to determine where it is we are going before any plans/goals to get there are laid out. I’m reminded of something a mentor of mine told me many years ago…”All roads must lead to Rome”. Start with your vision then ask yourself, how you are going to succeed in getting there? What goals and milestones do you need to put in place to guide you along the way? How are you going to evaluate if you’re getting closer and closer to attaining your vision? If the goals and the vision are not aligned, if the road does not lead to Rome, then perhaps pursuing that particular goal is best put off until another time.

Part of what I love most about fly fishing is the actual planning of the trip. I can easily lose track of time studying the river, or learning about the entomology found in a particular aquatic system. I find simple pleasure in stocking my fly box according to the patterns that I think would work best for my ultimate destination. I am certain to consider where along a river I can make camp and rest after a long day. None of this could possibly be done until I first determine where it is I am going… Where are you going?

This is the first in a series of posts I will be writing over the upcoming days/weeks about campus technology planning.

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