Putting the “Tech” in Technical Assistance
November 5th, 2013 The products and services provided by a national technical assistance center relies heavily on technology and the ability to collaborate meaningfully across great distances. In the first several months of the CEEDAR Center’s existence, the leadership team has worked closely with John Donaldson, Director of Technology Operations to conceptualize and develop the necessary infrastructure. John has worked in the College of Education’s technology services for 13 years and is excited to be involved with the CEEDAR Center. John was integral to the development of the College’s Educator Evaluation System, which is used by the administration, faculty, and students to track student performance on prescribed performance indicators that are linked to accreditation and certification requirements. He believes the Center’s focus on Evidence Based Practices, as outlined in the Essential Components and Innovation Configurations, are parallel. Further, John viewed the opportunity to build the infrastructure for CEEDAR as timely because his team could capitalize on the lessons learned from the ongoing revision of the Educator Evaluation System. Specifically, he knows that the system must allow for: flexibility in associating the Essential Components with various tasks or activities, easier accessibility, and iterative changes based on feedback.
From conceptualizing to development, John said that he and his team are constantly thinking about the end-user, asking themselves: How will the system be used? For what purpose will the system be used? How can the process or task be simplified? Ultimately, the essential components for technology tools developed for CEEDAR’s TA will:
- Be user-friendly
- Provide a space for collecting, accessing, and organizing documents and files
- Be easy to retrieve information from
- Compile data and artifacts in ways that allow an array of reports to be run for analysis and evaluation
- Drive, generate, and capture discussion about and linked to specific documents and/or activities
To date, the technology infrastructure includes the online application and reviewer systems, which are being improved based on the feedback from the first round of applications. Additionally, the team is working on a networked improvement community for state teams to communicate and document their activities related to TA. The core of this system will be the online Innovation Configuration and BluePrint. The online Innovation Configurations will provide users with the Essential Components, places for documentation, the evidence base on the component, and a space to reform, discuss and share. The BluePrint will capture team goals and progress benchmarks. The CEEDAR Center is working to provide products and services through state-of-the-art systems that change the ways in which stakeholders collaborate to reform educator preparation and performance. We will continue to share as new technology tools for TA are developed.