This is in response to Dangerously Irrelevant's call for posts... http://www.dangerouslyirrelevant.org/2009/07/calling-all-bloggers-leadership-day-2009.html
Learn to use what is on your computer. Create and utilize policy that will ensure every employee in your district knows what is on the computer in his or her classroom, office, lab, etc. This includes the Internet. School systems spend untold amounts of money on software, tools, technologies, unimaginable amounts of time on recreating the wheel, and store massive amounts of materials, when a good portion of those things are already available on the existing computers. They are the universal design features built into operating systems, the unused tools in standard software programs and suites, freeware, shareware, open source and Linux software, and websites. Allow access to and provide professional development in utilization of Web 2.0 technologies.
Work to close the digital divides. It still exists in many households. The current trend toward “cloud” based services is going to leave these families even further behind.
Invest in Universal Design for Learning: In addition to encouraging your staff to use more effectively what is already on the computers provide support, training and encouragement, to use those tools to enliven their teaching, and reach and include more successfully a broader range of students. Make sure that every teacher, para-professional, and related service provider can show a student how to make the text larger on the screen, and enable text to speech. When purchasing new materials make sure they meet UDL criteria (www.cast.org).
When the UDL features are not enough to provide student access make a commitment to delivering a full range of assistive technology devices and services to your learners. Have staff dedicated to Assistive Technology implementation if your district is large enough. Ensure that the proper ongoing training for staff, student, parents, and others is provided so that challenges can be resolved and the greatest chance of success is achieved.
Believe in your students.