#edtech for #edleaders: Appropriate Design

Schools are places where learning is supposed to occur. Educators, including teachers and curriculum leaders, are the professionals who are responsible for defining what should be taught. They are also responsible for deciding how it will be taught. These comprise curriculum and instruction decisions. While many curriculum and instruction decisions are made for lessons that do not use technology, there are a large number of lessons that do use technology.  

IT systems in schools must support effective curriculum and instruction, and even though it depends on technology, educators’ expertise and their decisions about the appropriateness of the IT systems for what they are trying to accomplish with students must be accommodated in IT planning. The appropriateness of the systems designed are grounded in answers to two questions: 

  • Does the IT allow my students to do what they must to learn what they must? 
  • Are the systems sufficient (in both computing capacity and numbers of devices)? 

While planning is an activity with which all educators and professionals in other fields find very familiar, the work of creating IT systems for school users is best described as design rather than planning. IT systems are interventions to be experienced by users, thus the same system can be interpreted differently by different people. Design is also an iterative process, so each version of the system that is deployed is temporary. Improvements to the system are made based on teachers’ experiences and their observations of students as they used the systems.  

While teachers are the primary population to create appropriate designs for educational technology, they do this in collaboration with other professional educators and IT professionals. Technology integration specialists are educators with greater than usual expertise with IT, so their insight is valuable during while defining appropriate designs. IT professionals are also responsible for the proper configuration of the systems, so their participation is necessary as well.