See the Services/Planning page for more information on our general approach. Following are Case Studies representing significant examples.

  • District 47 Technology Plan

    by Stu Johnson

    One of my first major projects was consultation with School District 47, a K-8 district in Crystal Lake, Illinois. The school board was frustrated with the increasing amount of money spent on technology, with no clear sense of direction. I served as outside consultant, reporting to the school board and district administration, working with the district's curriculum director, who served as technology liaison, and an 18-member task force of teachers and staff. This was an extensive, multi-pronged effort. Following are the highlights of the project focus and results:

    • The task force had the practical job of developing proposed mission and vision statements and an action plan for technology use in the district. To get there, significant research and discussion focused on two areas:
      • Developing a culture of change. It was clear that the district teachers and staff represented the complete range from eager, early adapters of technology to die-hard resisters. In discussing models of change, I put forward what has become a cornerstone of my approach toward change in an organization, a focus on nurturing "champions" as change agents. Rather than attempt a wholesale "conversion," this is a process approach that focuses on the willing instead of the resistant. Eventually, this led to identifying technology liaisons in each building, who could serve as local change agents.
      • The role of technology in the classroom. The task force found that the model of ""engaged learning" developed by North Central Regional Educational Laboratory (NCREL) was appropriate and provided a good foundation that could be adapted for the district.
    • What developed was a "curriculum-driven model for managing information technology and change." In addition to a detailed plan prepared for the school board and plan administrators, a three-page Executive Summary was prepared for distribution to district staff. It highlighted the key components: (Read the Executive Summary).
      • Technology Mission—the "why" of planning, setting the long range purpose and philosophy.
      • Technology Vision—the "where" of planning, setting specific mid-range (4-6 year) goals.
      • A Culture of Change—a simple diagram and explanation of the curriculum-driven model.
      • Engaged Learning—setting a target for levels of technology (low to high) and learning (passive to engaged).
      • Action Plan—the "how" of planning, setting specific, short-range steps to accomplish measurable objectives. Using the "rolling action plan" concept, the plan outlined specifics for two years and general objectives for the following three years. The concept of the rolling action plan is that each year progress is reviewed, adjusted as needed, and rolled forward another year.
    • My part in the execution. One of the first tasks was to wire buildings (wireless was not a practical alternative at that time). I assisted in the selection and supervision of a contractor to do this in several of the most difficult buildings and then assisted in supervising volunteer crews to wire additional buildings.

    On reflection, this was one of the most satisfying projects I have been engaged in because it enabled the use of a full range of competencies: organization, research, analysis, staff development training, presentations, and, in the end, putting on work clothes and throwing tools in the car to help wire buildings to launch the action plan.

  • by Stu Johnson

    Before I became Director of Communication Resources at Wheaton College, I had the privilege of chairing the design committee for a new state-of-the-art studio complex and headquarters for the yet unnamed new department that would be responsible for its operation, as well as all media support on the campus. Several features of that planning included:

    • The committee consisted of two Communications faculty (including me, also serving as General Manager of the college radio station, WETN), the director of AV Services, and the college architect, who would serve as project manager for the college.

    • Providing outside consultation were a California audio studio designer and a Chicago area electronics firm with expertise in video equipment and studio design. Both firms were recommended by committee members and worked directly with the committee in the design process.

    • While the studios were designed largely to support the undergraduate and graduate communications programs, the 15,000 square foot facility was treated as a campus-wide asset. Therefore, input for the studio design and the formation of its administrative structure, including the merger with the radio station and AV Services ,was solicited from the wider campus community.

    • During construction the committee remained actively involved with frequent visits to the construction site, working closely with the outside consultants and contractors, with change orders coordinated with the college architect.

    • Available funds met the costs of construction, but fell short in the area of equipment. The committee assembled equipment lists to inform college development and financial departments of the need, and also sought donations or purchase of used equipment from area media outlets. (At the time the studios began operation in the early 1980's, the microcomputer and digital revolutions were still in the future. Thus, to achieve the kind of video editing that can now be done on a personal computer would have cost a quarter-million dollars or more). Fortunately, the studio complex was designed with enough foresight to accommodate additional functions as funds became available and (even more so) because equipment costs started to plummet as technology changed.

    • The administrative unit which came into place, and of which SI was selected as director, brought together WETN, the studios (which had existed in classrooms and a dormitory basement) and the audio-visual department.

    • I foresaw the computer and digital revolutions, suggesting the merger of computers and traditional audio-visual technology and its significance for education. With the assistance of an able staff, the department guided the college in a transition from traditional audio-visual support, hauling 16mm film and projectors to classrooms, to placing VCRs and monitors in each classroom, and then linking classrooms to a campus cable system. One of the most exciting projects during my tenure was the remodeling of Blanchard Hall (Wheaton's original building), which was gutted and completely rebuilt inside, allowing it to be wired and outfitted as a technology-ready building. This set the standard for other buildings. By the time I left the college in 1995, I had developed a vision for a number of demonstration electronic classrooms. In the years since, that vision has been fulfilled and expanded as technology has become more affordable and as faculty and administrators began to expect increasing technology capability.
  • DuPage Airport Authority Report

    by Stu Johnson

    For several years I was involved with three other people in a training/organizational development partnership called Resource Dynamics. One client for which we did a range of work was the DuPage Airport Authority, a general aviation airport in the far west suburbs of Chicago, the third busiest airport in Illinois at the time. I was involved in a number of the staff development programs, producing the leader and participant guides, overheads from PowerPoint® (no video projector at that time), and other materials.

    In terms of planning, I was lead consultant on a major review of salaries and job descriptions, which involved several components in three major areas over a one-year period:

    • Job Descriptions
      • RDI consultants interviewed all DAA full-time employees to obtain self-reported job descriptions and information on job satisfaction.
      • Additional in-depth interviews were conducted with Flight Center staff, the area perceived as most problematic in terms of salary levels, as evidenced by high turnover.
      • RDI consultants conducted a trial "Role Assessment Process" to compare an employee's behavioral tendencies against a profile developed for a position (this process used the DiSC® profile from Carlson Learning Company, now Inscape Publishing).
      • Job descriptions were developed based on questionnaires filled out by managers (utilizing existing job descriptions), results of the employee interviews, and an external database of more than 3,000 job descriptions. The descriptions went through three stages of review.

    • Salaries and Salary Schedule
      • I gathered information on Chicago area cost-of-living and salaries, as well as information on other general aviation facilities.
      • I then compared DAA salaries against a database of jobs in the Chicago area.
      • I developed four versions of a proposed salary schedule model, which was presented to senior staff.

    • Organizational Structure
      • RDI consultants developed proposed changes in organizational structure, which began an ongoing discussion with the authority's executive director and senior staff. These were shaped both by an understanding of the airport authority's functions and the growing awareness over time of personality and philosophical conflicts.

    • Final Report
      • RDI consultants met with authority senior managers in several rounds of meetings to finalize job descriptions and review recommendations for the final report.
      • Further refinements were made, particularly to the organizational structure and salary scale, as the review process broadened to include all managers, where there were a number of practical issues as well as internal conflicts to deal with. The final report, presented to the authority's board and executive direction, was a combination of consensus and our own recommendations where there remained differences of opinion.
      • I prepared the final report document.

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