Technology Implementation in School Systems: Starting with the Why

A child smiling and staring at a tablet














Ask most schools and districts why they are launching a new technology initiative, and their answer is likely to be about what they are doing rather than why they are doing it. For example:

We are going to...


  • Give Chromebooks to every 6th - 12th grader
  • Implement a learning management system
  • Install access points throughout the school, including the cafeteria and auditorium
  • Flip the classroom
  • Use adaptive software

Often, the reason for taking the digital leap is not a carefully considered one:


  • Our students are digital natives so we need to engage them with technology
  • Our board/community/parents want the kids learning with technology
  • The district next door has the technology and we can’t be left behind
  • We want to increase test scores

A carefully considered “why,” provides direction...


  • District goals are motivated, constrained and focused by the “why”
  • The “why” informs day-to-day decision making
  • The “why” focuses the initiative and keeps it on track

Choose a “why” that is driven by teaching and learning, not technology. Include all stakeholders when developing your “why” vision statement. Consider:


  • What do you want students to know and be able to do when they graduate?
  • What digital skills and literacies do students need to develop?
  • How will technology be used to help students acquire this knowledge and skills?

To operationalize the “why,” work with stakeholders to select goals and metrics that will lead to the desired outcome:


  • Consider goals such as academic achievement, workforce skills, and student agency
  • Identify metrics and success measures that are quantitative or qualitative
  • Choose technologies that best support the “why” and identified goals
  • Collect data to measure how the initiative is progressing
  • Share data and update your school community regularly