Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Wearing Two Hats is Hard Sometimes

I spent the last 2.5 weeks troubleshooting an ailing school network. The outages in one school morphed into outages at two other buildings after the first outage was fixed. Tests were run; equipment was replaced; outside opinions were enlisted; and eventually the mystery of the very strange network behavior was solved. During that time it was hard to take off the techie hat to wear the student learning hat.

I've always been a huge proponent of educators being in charge of technology in schools, both as integrationists and as techies. It's hard for someone who has spent no time in a classroom to understand the special needs of teachers and students, and those of us who learned the trade of "techie" after being a teacher have some very unique job experiences that just teachers or just techies don't have. On the other hand, after a couple of weeks like I just had - and I even have two technicians and a part time teacher that work with me - I'm more certain than ever that if we want to really integrate technology in the best educational way possible, we better do three things:
  1. Hire enough people to support the technology and the education.
  2. Make technology a part of every educational conversation and decision that's ever made in the schools. Don't visit the EdTech experts as an after thought after the decisions are made.
  3. Provide vast supports for teachers when it comes to technology for learning. It's time-consuming, and it's easy to superficially use technology with students or to avoid its use altogether if you don't have help and support.
Long gone are the days of a computer lab or two in each building where students come for their only technology exposure in school. Instead we have technology scattered everywhere, available for student learning all day long - Literally thousands of devices, programs, apps, users, and varying training needs. I've got my learning/integration hat back on this week - but I sure didn't 90% of the time the two weeks before.

How about you? Does your school have technology integrationists to support classroom teachers? Or, do you have someone like me who wears both hats?