Technology managers, teachers and administrators have very different jobs within a school system. However, their ultimate goal is the same: student success. Teachers do that by delivering curriculum. Technology managers do that by choosing technology to enhance the classroom and by supporting that equipment. Administrators do that by running the actual business of school.
A successful technology initiative requires all parties to work together. Too often, this point is largely ignored. In March, I attended the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) annual conference. During one educational session Pete Just, CTO, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township recalled an instance in which a school district spent a large bond to buy iPads. The problem? The district never brought their technology leader into the conversation. He had no idea. That doesn’t bode well for their success.
This is just one of many examples I’ve heard of through my conversations with technology managers. They’re often left out of the discussion until it’s too late. This isn’t necessarily a malicious thing, more of an oversight on the part of administrators. In that same CoSN session I attended Pete Just also said, “The intention is always good, but it’s a lack of awareness, quite frankly, about the details.”
Administrators do something they feel is positive. Putting tablets in the classroom is a good thing. While that’s true, you also have to be able to support those tablets. Can the district network handle the load? Is Wi-Fi readily available? How will you continue to pay for and support the devices in the future? What sort of management software might you need? Those are all questions someone outside the technology department may not think to ask. In order to make smart technology decisions, educators and technology managers have to work together. Decisions can’t be made in silos. This goes for all parties involved.
In order to make smart technology purchasing decisions, it’s important a tech manager understands the learning environment and the educational goals of the district. The reverse is also true and teachers and administrators need to understand the long-term implications of certain tech decisions. Teachers need to be open to exploring new ways of doing things fueled by technology. Administrators need to be open to investing in new tools and creating a culture that supports innovation.
In order for a technology initiative to succeed, educators need to understand why a particular product was chosen and how it can help them do their job better. The only way a technology manager can convey that information is to have a good grasp on what goes on in the classroom and what challenges a particular solution might solve.
It’s only when you can make that connection between the instruction and the technology that the true value of any system or product unfolds and success follows—but you can’t do that in a silo.
Chrissy Winske, editor,
K-12 TechDecisions.com, @K12TD