While preparing for a presentation at a recent technology conference, I decided to look up the origin of the word “technology.” I discovered it was first used in the 1800s and derived from the Greek word tekhnologia, which means “systematic treatment.” Today, technology means several things, including “a manner of accomplishing a task especially using technical processes, methods, or knowledge.” It has been my job for more than twenty years to ensure that tasks are accomplished using proper processes and methodologies, so this definition hit home for me.
For online learning to work, we need planning and testing
My presentation centered on evolving a quality assurance team to a testing center of excellence. While putting together my PowerPoint, I often paused to think about the importance of solid practices for developing, implementing, and testing technology, not only for the companies that create the products educators use but also for the schools and districts that offer online learning as an option for their students.
Much like companies, schools and districts need three vital components—people, processes, and tools—distributed equally into each project. These shared resources provide a central center of knowledge and ensure that products are tested and always function when needed. Proper planning and testing is important for many educators since online learning cannot be effective if schools and districts have problems with their own infrastructure or the product itself.
Why does proper implementation and testing matter?
If your project isn’t implemented in a controlled manner, it can leave your educators, students, and parents confused. If it’s not implemented in an intelligent fashion, you could lose credibility for future projects. If it’s not measured adequately, you could lose the capability to identify the full value. Every project needs a roadmap; below, is a guideline educators can use when implementing a new online or blended learning program, testing the learning model, and reviewing data to make sure it is meeting goals and objectives.
- Establish your goals and objectives.
- Find online learning champions across your organization.
- Evaluate their skills to ensure you are bringing team members on board who have the skill sets needed for the project.
- Present the overarching plan to the selected project team.
- Identify key industry best practices to be used for implementation.
- Identify key performance indicators to evaluate success factors.
- Design and plan the transformation by sprints (consider two small projects to demonstrate the initial value).
- Ascertain a short evaluation cycle based on identified key performance indicators to demonstrate progression of the small projects.
- Conduct an impact analysis to identify success factors against specific metrics within the selected projects. See if you are meeting your goals and objectives.
- Review the data to determine best optimization and what you need to do going forward.
- Determine if you are ready for full implementation.
The end result could be very rewarding
With any project, there are several key things that need to happen. Sufficient and frequent communication must occur. During the planning stage, all identified stakeholders must participate. You need to make sure teachers and parents are educated about technology in the classroom and understand the full value of what you are trying to do. Set a timeline for full implementation. Then test to ensure your students and teachers are gaining a greater level of success. While there are many steps involved, the end result could be very rewarding for your school or district, your students, and their parents.