We are not simply introducing technology changes in schools, but rather making cultural changes of how schools instruct, operate & function.
When technology administrators or edtech coordinators make technology decisions for schools, it is important to not only understand the technical hurdles of implementation, but also the cultural impact it will have on all stakeholders. A common pitfall that I have seen is that we put our energy on the technical aspects of the implementation that we forget about how this will affect the culture of the organization. The paradigm shifting tools that are available today makes it even more critical to evaluate how technology affects everyone’s workflow. Introducing new technology tools is the same as any type of change, it requires buy-in from the major stakeholders of the organization. No matter how much expertise you have on technology, and no matter how much you know it is best for the organization, technology changes require a business and political approach like any other system-wide change.
From an administrative point of view, change has to be a strategic process because it is the duty of the management team to oversee and protect the organization. If we rush into change without what I call “beta testing” the process, it would be difficult to approve any changes, no matter how brilliant the solution. I find deploying technology in phases to be an effective model because it allows you to experience how it affects the cultural environment in manageable increments. When I introduce technology plans to the major stakeholders, I avoid any authoritative vernacular and focus my language in how the technologies improve organizational efficiency. I also try not to compare other schools or models, but only reference as successes. I wrote a previous blog post that talks about Diffusion of Innovations, which offers reasons behind successful changes in schools.
As an active practitioner of education information technologies, it is important to provide insight on how to effectively transform schools with technology. I would appreciate thoughts on your experiences deploying system-wide technology changes.
ReadWriteWeb writer Audrey Watters reached out to me to discuss how we implemented Google Apps Edu at my schools. Attached is the link to the full article: When K12 Moves to the Cloud
In the words of Howard Chan, “having a centralized depository for disseminating information has changed the culture of our school. Now there is a platform for distributing information in real time and archiving information for future use.”
The common argument here is that EdTech specialists are not technical enough, while IT specialists have no clue what teachers need. My hopes is to eliminate this issue by creating a new hybrid degree in EdTech/IT, hence the name EduIT. This program would enhance the already strong EdTech community by giving EdTech specialists an opportunity to study engineering and IT fundamentals. It will prove beneficial if this new specialist will have understanding of security, programming, and network design systems. Armed with this knowledge, who wouldn’t want this new EduIT specialist to lead our next generation school technology infrastructures.
Schools require a new breed of Information Technology than the traditional enterprise network. The corporate enterprise network model doesn’t seem to fit the nature of a K12 school. Obviously, we need to protect student information systems that house confidential data about our populations, but overall I feel instructional institutions need to embrace an open & collaborative environment focused on integrating technology into the classroom.
The traditional enterprise IT Director role may not fit the role for school technology infrastructures. Quite boldly: “Whoever is in charge of educational technology should be in charge of the direction of information technology at the school.” I still believe there needs to be an IT specialist who takes care of day to day technology support, but the Director of Technology should be an Educational Technologist who has classroom experience to bring to the table. We are at a point in education where technology is a paradigm shifting tool in our classrooms, and we need experts in both education and technology to lead the way.
Let’s call it EduIT (Education Information Technology). The EduIT director fosters 21st century skills and invests in tools & professional development that pushes the IT department to empower teachers to use technology in the classroom. Why keep two departments separate? EdTech should be driving the decisions on infrastructure, such as moving to a Google Apps environment for communication and collaboration. When we moved to this environment at our site, we saved money and time working on tech support issues while also creating an environment that supported effective real time communication.
The EduIT director will spend more time working with teachers and administrators to create the ideal integrated technology classroom environment. This will lend itself to focusing on tools such as student response systems, gesture-based computing, and technology data-driven assessments for classroom integration. It will also focus on collaborative web environments focused on wikis, micro-blogging, and other social media apps. The cloud computing sector has evolved to a point where traditional IT processes & job duties are no longer needed, and less time is needed to support our users. Moreover, the web 2.0 environment has evolved to make it easier for non-tech savvy users to integrate technology with little tech support. The role of EduIT director would focus on professional development training with understanding of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK).
As our schools evolve and embrace educational technologies, it only makes sense that Educational Technology should merge with Information Technology.
This will require some changes on how we train our EdTech specialists who will be filling the role of the technology director. This is where I believe the EdTech specialist needs to evolve into a broader profession to include Information Technology studies.
I have a bachelors in electrical engineering, and have spent seven years working in the information technology industry. I have been in teaching (Masters in Education) for six years and have been the director of technology for four. My experiences in both education and technology has brought me to the conclusion that we need a new hybrid degree for the next generation EdTech specialist.
As schools become more integrated with tablets, interactive whiteboards, and smartphones, building a school infrastructure that supports this environment will be key to success. Furthermore, as schools become more dependent on web applications and cloud computing, network demands will be pushing for more security, collaboration and accessibility.
The new EdTech specialist will not only need to have their basic understanding of technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK), but will also need to have a fundamental understanding of information technologies. And within information technology studies, their needs to be a fundamental understanding of the engineering design process. According to wikipedia, the engineering design process is: “the process of servicing a system, component or process to meet desired deeds. It is a decision-making process (often iterative), in which the basic sciences,mathematics, and engineering sciences are applied to convert resources optimally to meet a stated objective. Among the fundamental elements of the design process are the establishment of objectives and criteria, synthesis, analysis, construction, testing, and evaluation.”
By studying the engineering design process, our next generation EdTech specialist will have fundamental understanding of system design. If the end goal is transform schools by having a fully integrated educational technology solution, how can an EdTech specialist not be included in the design process of technology infrastructures. I often find that IT departments do not include EdTech in decisions regarding infrastructure because of the perceived lack of technical expertise. But if the end goal is to service teachers and students, it is absolutely critical that the EdTech specialist be part of the design process.
When I first started Twitter back in August of 09, I had about 30 followers and was more interested in learning from others than actually engaging in conversation. It was primarily due to unfamiliarity with the tweeting culture more than anything. It wasn’t until I a few months later and the help of @simpleK12 that really launched my full use of Twitter. I had roughly about 70 followers when @simpleK12 recommended me to their followers and thus propelled me to engage with a bigger education community. Thank you @simpleK12!
Since then, I have engaged with many educators and technologists on various hashtags. It even inspired me to create a hashtag for K12 Technology Administrators called #EduIT. However, I noticed a change in my Twitter use since the early days of PLN engagement. I use to have daily conversations with folks and reciprocation was there. In the last few months however, I have felt like back in my early days when I had about 50 or so followers, less engaged and more reading and tweeting without engagement. For someone who has over 1000 followers, it has occurred to me that this is a sad state of my Tweeting. I normally interact with only a handful of my followers (maybe 20-30) and I find that to be a poor effort on my part. I have to remember the whole point of being on Twitter is to engage in dialogue to grow as a professional and share resources amongst each other. Because of my less than engaging effort, I found my learning has steadily decreased as well. I remember a paster saying “when in need, sow a seed.” I wrote this post as a reflection to change my engagement habits on Twitter. I hope to connect and learn more from my larger PLN.
Below is the technology mission statement I developed for our charter schools. It has been a productive summer developing the new department to serve our seven schools for the 2010-2011 school year.
We deliver 21st century technology learning opportunities that foster academic excellence leading to global collaboration, digital citizenship, and a love for learning.
- All students and staff can learn and should have access to current and relevant technology and support resources.
- Provide technology learning resources and tools to empower staff and students to participate in global collaborative environments.
- Provide quality support and maintenance of technology services.
- Research current technology best practices and provide on-going professional development.
- Encourage and promote 21st century skills and digital citizenship.
- All students can achieve technology proficiency using computers on a regular scheduled basis.
- There will be a staff technology core level proficiency framework. It is expected that all staff fill out the EdTech Profile provided by the State of California. The technology department will facilitate professional development on core level competencies.
- All students and staff will adhere to high standards of digital citizenship.
- Only technology initiatives/implementations collaborated with the technology department will be supported and maintained.
- Only school issued technology equipment can be formerly supported by the technology department.
Here is a compilation of links and resources that will be discussed during my sessions at KSS Las Vegas this coming week. Thank you for participating in the session(s) and I hope to collaborate with you in the near future.
- National Education Technology Plan
- 2010 Horizon Report
- Top EdTech Web 2.0 Tools
- WallWisher KSS 2010
- Partnership for 21st Century Skills
- The Amazing Web 2.0 Projects Book
- The Ultimate Teacher’s Guide to Social Media
- PBS Frontline Digital Nation
- How Edmodo Can Extend Your Classroom?
- Twitter Professional Development – #edchat
- Google Apps Training Education Center
- The Educator’s PLN Ning
- The Cybraryman Internet Catalogue
- Learning to Change/Changing to Learn
- K12 Internet Safety Curriculum
- EdTech Experts Choose Top Tools
- Digital Citizenship K12 Continuum
- Waiting for Superman Documentary Trailer