In this post I’m going to do something I don’t often do around here: say some nice things about our overly-large school district.
This all starts with a post at The Thinking Stick in which Jeff discusses the differences between IT (information technology) and ET (educational technology) and the support provided by each.
As we infuse more technology into our schools and classrooms, we are going to need to define a new type of technology position. We need to understand that there is a difference between keeping hardware running and training teachers to use tools that facilitate learning. In the two weeks I have been back in the States, I have talked to educators who all say the same thing, “We would use it more if we knew how to use it, if we were trained on what to do with it.” I have also talked with technology people who are trying to be both an IT and ET for their schools who say, “I just do not have the time to do it all.”
Over the past ten years, we have gone from having one ET (we use other titles, of course) for six to ten schools to having one full-time educator/trainer supporting the instructional use of technology in every school (more than 200 of them).
We also have greatly increased the number of IT people in the schools to the point that we have a full time tech in every middle and high school.
Convincing our school board to pay for all this has taken a lot of work and support, often at the grass roots. But we also have many principals and others in leadership who recognized the need and provided their backing.
We still have some work to do in differentiating the two jobs, however. Too many staff members in schools think our trainers are part of IT and are only there to fix their printer.
Of course, some of our trainers foster the confusion and do everyone in the larger group a disservice by spending too much time on techie stuff and not enough on instructional applications.
I do have one minor quibble with Jeff’s list of roles for each side of the equation. He says that ET should “have input on hardware and software purchases”.
The instructional side of the house should completely specify what is bought for classroom use. The people actually using this stuff should be the ones deciding on what that stuff will be.
By the way, as far as all the complaining I do about our district (in and out of this space), the motivation comes from the concept that good is the enemy of great.