The EETNet Institute: Building Technology Planning Endurance
Miguel Guhlin, MA
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.
greatly
jfulton@solutions.kennedyhs.emg.com This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
Re: For Blanca - Q on TIE Grant
From: Blanca Hemann, ESC 20 barizpe@tenet.edu
This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
No
Yes
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.

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.
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 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 ( cgreen@idra.org
This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it
) at IDRA to find out how you might be able to get involved in this free technology planning institute being hosted around Texas.
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.
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.