Sometimes EdTech consultants or PD providers are surprised that FCIT is eager to license TIM Tools to them. After all, they may know—or at least surmise—that FCIT itself has a long history of EdTech consulting work and PD. Why the enthusiasm for supporting a possible “competitor”? The answer in a minute, but first a very short version of that long FCIT history.
Where We Came From
There was a time when EdTech consulting and PD was pretty much just what FCIT did. We had continuing grants from the Florida Department of Education to provide “Educational Technology Integrators” to each region of the state. Our staff provided EdTech consulting on both technical and pedagogical issues, they helped with tech planning and grant writing, and they provided PD or whatever else was needed.
As time went on, we received a mandate from the state to increase district EdTech capacity. We first trained hundreds of trainers, taking them through the equivalent of two complete graduate courses in Instructional Technology. We then created the Florida Digital Educator program of PD for thousands of Florida teachers, primarily through four-day summer institutes at various locations across the state. Each Thursday evening the trucks and vans would return to FCIT from the previous training sites and we’d frantically spend Friday and Saturday sorting out all of the equipment and then repacking cases of tech and materials for each classroom at the next week’s site. Some weeks we’d have as many as three locations going simultaneously and a thousand teachers in training. We also ran our own Adobe Connect server for monthly follow-up sessions with the teachers.
With so many participants, we had to develop a number of web apps to manage the program. We needed background information about the state of EdTech in participating districts to design training, we needed a means to continue interacting with teachers after their initial training, and we needed the ability to do program evaluation and reporting. Out of necessity, our suite of TIM Tools began to take shape.
After several years, our goal of increasing district EdTech capacity was achieved and the program wound down. Most of our trainers, which we had originally plucked from the classroom, had now moved into district positions. We therefore began licensing the TIM Tools to other states, districts, and individual schools—first in the US and then internationally. While we missed the excitement of working with so many thousands of teachers directly, we certainly didn’t miss the nightmare of processing travel authorizations and individual car rental, lodging, and meal expense reports for over a hundred trainers each week.
So what does that have to do with exercise bicycles?
Ideally, any school, district, or ministry of education should be able to utilize the TIM Tools suite we created to the fullest in support of their planning, professional development, and evaluation efforts. And most do. When a large district has a separate evaluation department with the luxury of just focusing on using data, they do well. When tech directors have the time to dig into the Tools and utilize the parts that are most valuable for their district, they quickly get hooked. When an associate superintendent or head of school takes a personal interest in using TIM Tools data, change happens.
But sometimes licensing TIM Tools is a bit like purchasing an exercise bicycle. People make the bike purchase to help themselves achieve a personal goal. They unpack it in the corner of a bedroom and there it sits—slowly becoming a clothes rack of sorts. Exercise bicycles work, but not if they sit unused. The same thing can happen with TIM Tools. A district tech coordinator might license the Tools with all good intentions of using them regularly throughout the year, but alas, there’s always a fire to put out. The crisis of the day overshadows long-term plans and TIM Tools sits in the corner unused. By the time the next academic year rolls around and someone in purchasing asks about renewal, the realization hits that the unused TIM Tools license hasn’t been of any value and the funds could be used to purchase some printers instead.
That’s what we want to avoid.
When a district brings in a consultant, it’s a little like hiring a personal trainer to make sure the exercise bicycle gets used and results are achieved. We find that if an outside consultant is involved, the client usually renews each year because they are getting great value from their license. Therefore, we really love it when consultants make TIM Tools a part of their work with a school or district.
What can TIM Tools do for an EdTech consultant or PD provider?
Every academic situation is unique and as a consultant, your company also has unique needs. Here’s a quick list of some of the ways you may want to use TIM Tools with a client school or district.
Tech Planning. If you assist your clients with the writing of technology plans for their own use or as requirements for their state or other educational authority, you’ll find that the TUPS (Technology Uses and Perceptions Survey) will give you much of the information you’ll need to complete a typical tech plan.
Professional Development Plan. A single administration of the TUPS will yield a vast amount of information you need to create a professional development plan. The reporting template we’ve created will also help you to make sense of the data—for example, identifying areas that the teachers highly value, but feel they have low skills in. It’s always a good choice to begin a PD program with topics the teachers actually value and want to increase their skills in.
Individualized PD Plans. You can also use TUPS results to look at an individual teacher’s needs, values, and current tech usage. We are currently developing more interpretative individual reporting.
Training Materials. If you offer professional learning yourself, you’ll find a huge collection of presentations, graphics, PDFs and other resources available for your use.
TIM Training for Your Staff. We offer four-week online courses that will quickly get your own staff up to speed on using the Technology Integration Matrix and TIM Tools.
Grant Writing. If you assist your client in grant writing, be sure to include TIM Tools in the evaluation plan. The Tools can capture growth in much shorter timeframes than other measures and give you richer perspective of your project. You’re not going to see standardized test scores go up after a semester of a new tech initiative, but you can document changes in pedagogy that research has shown to positively impact student achievement.
Client Reporting. The TIM Tools give you great reports to share with your clients. Or, if you prefer, extract the data, charts, and graphs from the generated reports and merge them into your own branded reporting style. Here’s an example of a basic TUPS report generated by TIM Tools:
But you can also download your raw data and use it in special Excel templates we’ve created for additional interpretation. Here’s a montage of workbook sheets from a TUPS download:
Since you always have access to all of the raw data in the system, you can download any of it at any time and enter it into your own statistical package if you prefer.
Shared Administration. The Admin Center allows you complete flexibility of administration and access. You can manage the Tools entirely yourself and just share reporting with the client on your schedule. Or you can give the client complete administrative access and act only in a supporting role. Or you can designate roles for just about any sort of shared administration you wish.
Progress Monitoring. Because the TIM-O (observation tool) can be used as frequently as desired, progress in technology integration can be monitored throughout the year and adjustments in PD, coaching, or other support can be made in real time. Additional versions of the TIM-O for lesson plan review (TIM-LP) and for teacher reflection (TIM-R) can be used as additional inputs to track progress.
Managing Coaching. If working one-on-one with teachers is a part of your package of services, you’ll find that the TIM-C (coaching tool) provides a helpful framework for supporting and monitoring the progress of every coaching cycle between a member of your staff and a client teacher. The online app supports a continued conversation and regular check-ins whether your staff is physically present or not. You’ll also have a complete record of your efforts to share with the client school or district.
Branding. Create your own custom banner for display throughout your TIM Tools instance. The Tools instance comes with a large selection of built-in header banners, but it’s easy to add one that incorporates your own logo and branding.
Cost Savings. The annual cost per teacher for large TIM Tools instances is much lower than for small instances. That’s simply because it’s less expensive for us to initialize, manage, and support a single large instance than it is to support the same number of teachers spread across many smaller instances. That cost savings is a significant benefit you can bring to your clients. For example, an annual license for a school with 50 teachers is $500. You could purchase an annual district license that supports 1000 teachers for $2,000. By using that single license for twenty client schools with 50 teachers each, the effective cost per school drops from $500 to $100.
Custom Surveys. We’ve found that those managing TIM Tools on behalf of client schools often have their own additional surveys they need to administer to teachers and staff in the schools they are working with. TIM Tools gives you the ability to add your own custom surveys that have the same branding as what you selected for your TIM Tools instance and further provides the convenience of being available only to the roles (teachers, principals, etc.) you designate within the system. You can also add surveys that are open to the public (with or without an access code) so you can can gather input from parents or other stakeholders.
These are just a few of the ways a TIM Tools license can support and enhance your work. If you are a consultant, PD provider, regional services provider, director of an association of schools, or anyone else providing services to client schools, request a complimentary consultation to discover how TIM Tools can work for you. You can also generate an instant quote if you’re ready to begin using TIM Tools with your clients.
Roy Winkelman is a 40+ year veteran teacher of students from every level kindergarten through graduate school. As the former Director of FCIT, he began the Center's focus on providing students with rich content collections from which to build their understanding. When not glued to his keyboard, Dr. Winkelman can usually be found puttering around his tomato garden in Pittsburgh.