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Forum Unified Education Technology Suite
  Home:  Acknowledgments and Introduction
  Part 1:  Planning Your Technology Initiatives
  Part 2:  Determining Your Technology Needs
  Part 3:  Selecting Your Technology Solutions
  Part 4:  Implementing Your Technology
  Part 5:  Safeguarding Your Technology
  Part 6:  Maintaining and Supporting Your Technology
  Part 7:  Training for Your Technology
  Part 8:  Integrating Your Technology
  Appendix A: Sample
Acceptable Use
Agreements and Policies
  Appendix B: FERPA Fact Sheet
  Appendix C: Web Guidelines
  Appendix D: Sample Security Agreements
  List of Tables and Figures
    Powerpoint Overview (700KB)
NCES Webmaster
Acknowledgments and Introduction


This Forum Unified Education Technology Suite was developed through the National Cooperative Education Statistics System and funded by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the U.S. Department of Education. It was produced under the auspices of the National Forum on Education Statistics.

This online resource combines and updates four previously existing NCES/Forum publications: Safeguarding Your Technology (1998), Technology @ Your Fingertips, Version 2.0 (2001), Technology in Schools (2002), and Weaving a Secure Web around Education (2003). It was prepared by Tom Szuba (Quality Information Partners), Andy Rogers (Education Statistics Services Institute [ESSI]), and Gerald Malitz (National Center for Education Statistics). Raymond Yeagley (Rochester, NH, School Department) provided valuable comments as a reviewer. Donna Moss provided editorial services.

Although the original four resources maintain their value as stand-alone publications, their content has been integrated and updated to form this Forum Unified Education Technology Suite. This Forum Unified Education Technology Suite will be maintained and updated on a regular basis in lieu of parallel maintenance of the four original source publications. Comments or questions about this resource should be directed to NCES Webmaster.

Publication of the original documents incorporated the expertise and experience of over 225 educators who participated in the development and review of the resources. These individuals have been acknowledged in the initial releases of these publications:

Publications of the National Forum on Education Statistics do not undergo the formal review required for products of the National Center for Education Statistics. The information and opinions published here are the product of the National Forum on Education Statistics and do not necessarily represent the policy or views of the U.S. Department of Education or the National Center for Education Statistics.


It goes without saying that all over North America, communities are rushing to infuse technology into schools so that all students can enjoy the benefits of technologically sophisticated learning environments—classrooms that are wired to the Internet and provide learning experiences geared toward developing information skills needed in the 21st century. In addition to providing worthwhile and exciting learning experiences for students, technology is a tool that can streamline administrative operations and make it easier for teachers and other education staff members to do their work.

But purchasing, integrating, and managing technology in an education organization is a complex and challenging endeavor. It requires considerable planning if an initiative or system is to be implemented effectively and efficiently. If you find yourself responsible for making good decisions about selecting, acquiring, implementing, maintaining, and securing technology in your education organization, this resource has been developed for you.


There are countless books and materials available to describe how to set up computer and communications technology. Many of these publications are very good, yet they are usually complicated and are often written for a business or industry audience. The Forum Unified Education Technology Suite is designed specifically for educators. The document presents a practical, comprehensive, and tested approach to assessing, acquiring, instituting, managing, securing, and using technology in education settings. It will also help individuals who lack extensive experience with technology to develop a better understanding of the terminology, concepts, and fundamental issues influencing technology acquisition decisions.

What is Meant by a "Unified Education Technology Suite"?

This web-based resource has its origins in four separate, stand-alone documents published by the National Center for Education Statistics and National Forum on Education Statistics over the past several years.

checkmark Safeguarding Your Technology (1998) helps educational administrators and staff at the building, campus, district, and state levels better understand why and how to effectively secure an organization’s sensitive information, critical systems, computer equipment, and network access.
checkmark Technology @ Your Fingertips, Version 2.0 (2001) describes a process for getting the best possible technology solution for your education organization. It presents practical steps for identifying an organization’s technology needs and the subsequent acquisition and implementation of a solution that will serve the organization today and in the future.
checkmark Technology in Schools (2002) is written for state and local education agency staff charged with measuring technology resources, access, and use. Topical areas include educational technology planning and policies, finance, equipment and infrastructure, applications, maintenance and support, professional development, and integration.
checkmark Weaving a Secure Web around Education (2003) is a practical guide to content selection, design, editorial control, legal issues, policy, network security, and technical procedures related to developing and managing public websites for education organizations (i.e., schools, school districts, or state education agencies).

Target Audience

This Technology Suite has been developed for people with one of the following four primary roles in education settings:

  • individuals who are responsible for acquiring and installing technology systems
  • individuals who are responsible for supervising technology acquisition and implementation
  • individuals who are responsible for managing technology systems on a day-to-day basis
  • individuals who are responsible for the integration of various technologies into classrooms

Some portions of this document will be relevant to other staff in an education institution, including:

  • individuals who are responsible for collecting and reporting data about technology resources, access, and use
  • individuals who are responsible for maintaining electronic education records
  • individuals who are responsible for school or district website development, maintenance, and oversight
  • individuals who are responsible for information and technology security within an education institution

The persons who might fill these roles include, but are not limited to, principals, superintendents, board members, central office managers, school site technology coordinators, professors, and librarians. Individuals using this document may make the final decisions in an organization, or they may make recommendations to the decision-makers.

If you perform one of the roles mentioned above, this resource can help you answer real-world questions about how (and how not) to go about effectively acquiring and managing technology in your education setting. The expectation is that you will be exposed to useful ideas that can be applied to your organization’s specific circumstances.

The guidelines provided are intended to be most useful to persons in schools or districts. However, examples in the document were obtained from a variety of organizations, and as such the guidelines are applicable to all types of education institutions, including colleges, universities, libraries, state education agencies, and other public or private entities that deliver education-related services.

With the exception of one section on network security, this document is aimed at non-technical staff, although the writing style includes terminology and topics fundamental to understanding technology. Definitions are provided throughout the document and can also be found in the Glossary.

What is Meant by "Technology in Schools"?

While the term "educational technology" usually refers to the use of technology as a means of facilitating or enhancing instruction, the term "technology in schools" has a broader meaning. As used in this resource, "technology in schools" refers to the full range of equipment and applications, including network resources; computers; computer-related equipment; peripheral equipment; wireless, cable, telephone, and other connections; operating systems; networking software; computing software; and any other technology-related resources used for instruction or as a management tool for any aspect of the organization’s operations.

More specifically, network devices include but are not limited to:

checkmark routers
checkmark hubs
checkmark switches
checkmark transceivers

access servers

Computer equipment refers to computers and associated peripheral equipment, such as:

checkmark desktop and laptop machines
checkmark handheld computers (also known as Personal Digital Assistants or PDAs)
checkmark mainframe machines and other specialized computing devices
checkmark monitors
checkmark keyboards
checkmark external disk drives (and "extra" internal drives)
checkmark portable storage devices (e.g., USB drives)
checkmark plug-ins (e.g., PC and Ethernet cards)
checkmark modems
checkmark cables
checkmark printers
checkmark scanners
checkmark digital cameras and recorders


Other technology resources in the school setting include but are not limited to:

checkmark communications support, such as fax and voice-mail resources in regular use by instructional and administrative staff
checkmark videoconferencing and other distance education tools, including satellite transmitters and receivers, cable-based receivers, and modem- or codec-based video equipment
checkmark projection devices, from transparent and opaque projectors to video monitors
checkmark graphing calculators and other specialized computational aids

electrical, facility, and security resources necessary to support and maintain technology components

Software applications and programs that are relevant to the educational system include but are not limited to:

checkmark operating systems
checkmark applications that support hardware and peripheral use
checkmark applications that support communication
checkmark applications that support instruction

applications that support management and administration

While emphasizing hardware- and software-related aspects of "technology in schools," this resource also strives to transcend equipment, programs, and infrastructure, providing up-to-date guidance about:

checkmark policies for governing technology decision-making and use, including web content guidelines, presentation standards, and appropriate use agreements
checkmark technology maintenance and support activities
checkmark security procedures for protecting equipment, software, and information
checkmark training programs for staff, students, and parents

overall technology program evaluation (i.e., the degree to which technology is used in education settings, by whom, and to what effect)

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