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The EdTech Navigator: A Strategic Planning Framework for New Learning Spaces

Contemporary academic institutions face many challenges when planning new technology or applications like hybrid learning. Overcoming resistance to change and fostering an environment that embraces innovation can be challenging. However, keeping pace with these advancements while ensuring they align with institutional and pedagogical goals using traditional planning models is difficult.

Addressing these challenges requires a new strategic approach to innovative planning, stakeholder engagement, continuous professional development, and a commitment to ongoing evaluation and adjustment.

EdTech Navigator Framework

EdTech Navigator Framework © 2024. Craig Park. All rights reserved.

The Edtech Navigator Framework

The EdTech Navigator (ETN) framework stands out in its ability to effectively address these challenges. It ensures that technology integration is not just a process but a strategic one, aligned with educational goals, inclusive of all stakeholders, and responsive to the educational community's changing needs and expectations.

The ETN framework is not just a solution but a catalyst for change. It promotes a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, offering a comprehensive and strategic approach to address these challenges. Embracing change and inclusivity paves the way for a more effective and efficient technology integration process.

The ETN framework is a roadmap to effective strategic planning. It organizes each step to align with determining an initial vision, establishing goals and defining objectives, and then turning the results into actionable strategies and tactical efforts. This seven-step structured approach ensures that every aspect of the planning process is considered and addressed.

1) INITIATE: "What's Important?"

This first step is understanding the current state of learning environments and setting clear, measurable objectives aligned with institutional goals. The process begins by thoroughly assessing current capabilities, technological infrastructure, and pedagogical practices. It engages a team of key stakeholders — faculty, IT/AV support staff, administrators, and students — to understand their needs, experiences, and expectations in technology-supported learning environments.

Defining the "what" and focusing on the "why" of implementing new technologies makes the plan explicit and intentional, with documented roles and processes that are more likely to be carried out. Establishing a standing technology planning team ensures that the plan's "how" is carried out effectively. This first step sets the stage for achieving these goals by developing and articulating clear educational goals for the new model and identifying the technological requirements.

2) IMAGINE: "What's Next?"

The second step begins with the planning team investigating and examining trends. By exploring emerging technologies and envisioning the future of education, this step encourages divergent thinking and consideration of emerging and innovative solutions. It mitigates the risk of adopting technology for its own sake by focusing on benefits, ensuring that the technology adopted is sustainable and aligns with long-term educational goals.

The team explores new technologies, drawing insights from sources like the Gartner Group, AVIXA, and BICSI and the perspectives of renowned futurists like Gayemarie Brown, Dan Burris, Ray Kurzweil, and others. It also includes benchmark resources like,, and, conducting product research and technology use in other similar institutions. This brings the conversation back to convergent thinking based on real-world applications.

3) INQUIRE: Making Imagination Reality

Utilizing a SOAR appreciative inquiry model, this phase involves a critical review of current technology use, identification of opportunities for improvement, setting aspirations, and determining achievable results. This structured approach ensures that technology planning is aligned with the institution's strengths and opportunities and focuses on realistic and strategic objectives.

The SOAR process, which stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations, and Results, is a future-focused, inclusive strategic planning approach that leverages an organization's positive attributes to achieve long-term goals. It builds on an organization's strengths and fosters a more positive and productive environment for growth and development.

During the Inquiry phase, engages its stakeholder team in a review of four important considerations:

  • STRENGTHS: "What's Working?" This step includes a critical review of the current use of technology and resources currently in place to identify what is functioning well. Through facilitated discussions, the strategic planning group explores the institution's technological strengths, what they are proud of, and how to improve future results.
  • OPPORTUNITIES: "What Could Be?" Here, the focus shifts to identifying technology-supported opportunities using unconstrained thinking. Stakeholders are encouraged to brainstorm applications or technologies that could enhance learning outcomes, focusing on capitalizing on the identified trends and better meeting the needs of students and faculty. Discussing opportunities in this format can be a free-wheeling, no-limits thought experiment that yields multiple relevant options for the future.
  • ASPIRATIONS: "What Should Be?" Identifying aspirations involves prioritizing a list of strategic opportunities through a ranking exercise to determine short-term (1 year or less) and long-term (2-3 years) projects that align with the institution's goals. This step defines the aspirations that will form the foundation of the technology plan and include necessary resources, objectives and key results (OKRs), and key performance indicators (KPIs).
  • RESULTS: "What Will Be?" The final step in the Inquiry phase involves deciding which initiatives to include in the initial implementation plan and which to defer for future consideration. This stage requires defining success metrics for new technology initiatives, the resources needed for initial implementation, and establishing a program structure for ongoing technology planning.

4) IMPLEMENT: "What's First?"

The fourth step focuses on action and starts with a pilot or "sandbox" environment. In this experimental space, new technology is controlled, ensuring that the learning environment created is effective and meets the needs of students and faculty. The sandbox can also implement professional development programs providing faculty and staff training and support. This includes workshops on best practices for engaging remote learners and designing courses that leverage the strengths of the new technology model.

5) ITERATE: "What Could Be Better?"

Continuous evaluation and refinement are key in this phase, allowing institutions to adjust their approach based on feedback and outcomes from the pilot projects. The iterative process ensures that technology integration is always aligned with goals and responsive to user needs. Gathering feedback on the effectiveness of the new learning environments and evaluating each design, procurement, and implementation workflow leads to the development of best practices.

6) INNOVATE: "What Worked Best?"

Building on the successes of pilot projects, this step encourages ongoing exploration and adoption of emerging technologies. It emphasizes the importance of continuous support and development to ensure that technology integration remains effective and relevant. By encouraging imaginative planning and exploring emerging technologies' potential, institutions are better prepared to pivot when unexpected "black swan" events force a course correction or change.

7) IMPACT: What Did We Learn?

The final phase evaluates technology's impact on learning outcomes, pedagogical effectiveness, and resource allocation. This stage reviews the established OKRs and KPIs used to track progress. Outcomes inform the faculty on pedagogical effectiveness, the technology team on service quality and resource issues, and ways to improve efficiency and reduce technology costs. Institutions learn from their experiences by gathering feedback and making informed decisions about future technology investments.

Continuous Improvement: What Comes After What Comes Next

The EdTech Navigator planning framework effectively addresses key challenges by ensuring that technology integration is strategic, aligned with campus-wide educational goals, inclusive of all stakeholders, supported by adequate infrastructure and training, and responsive to the educational community's changing needs and expectations. The framework promotes a culture of continuous improvement and innovation, helping institutions navigate the complexities of integrating technology into teaching and learning.

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