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Preview of Sessions: FutureNOW! Conference at Design39

March 21, 2015 Leave a comment

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We are excited to release the preview of sessions for the FutureNOW! Conference @Design39Campus on Saturday, May, 2nd. We have an incredible lineup of amazing educators sharing innovative practices on topics like Design Thinking, Growth Mindset, Technology and more. Take a sneak peak and we hope to see you in May. Please register soon as we expect this conference will reach capacity.

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Thoughts About K12 Education Information Technology

July 3, 2010 6 comments
Below is a compilation of my #EduIT thoughts from years serving in K12 education infrastructures. The role of the technology department is continuing to evolve, and with the rapid growth of edtech in K12 schools, it is important to understand everyone’s role (teachers, IT, admins) in the success of technology deployment  This opinionated post will continue to evolve and I welcome other technology administrators & teachers to participate in this ongoing discussion about education information technology.
  • K12 information technology is NOT enterprise IT.
  • Successful technology departments are not troubleshooting day-to-day tech support tickets, but rather empowering users and providing structured professional development.
  • The more technology proficient our K12 users are, the less tech support tickets are submitted.
  • When I am focused more on educational technology, I know information technology is doing its job.
  • Putting technology in the classroom without proper professional development = money squandered.
  • Just paying for tech support = adding more cost down the road. Tech support must combine with professional development, technology vision and strategic technology planning for successful integration.
  • EdTech specialists should evolve to learn and experience aspects of information technology.
  • IT administrators should observe classrooms and understand the needs of our teachers.
  • “Geeked-Out” teachers + “Education-Minded” IT admins = Happy Medium!
  • Content filtering is a must when dealing with federal dollars…but that doesn’t mean IT shouldn’t listen to their teachers about what you block. Both sides should be knowledgeable about CIPA.
  • Responsible management of equipment by our teachers will go a long way to preserving the technology while lending a hand to the IT department.
  • When purchasing technology, don’t forget their is a total cost of ownership which adds maintenance, warranty, training, and support costs.
  • 250:1 workstation to desktop support technician is what I have seen typically in K12. But I have heard cases of 600:1…yikes! In comparison, a typical corporate enterprise would have a 25-50:1 ratio.
  • Flexible desktop virtualization & cloud computing will save costs down the road while providing teachers content for engaging educational technology.
  • Technology departments should be one of the models for 21st century learning. We need to empower our users to be constant learners, collaborators, and innovators.
  • Majority of tech support tickets are user errors. I have even been told up to 80% by other technology administrators.
  • The more we open our technology infrastructure to our users, the more important digital citizenship becomes a key component.
  • When offering technology professional development, remember The Boiling Frog Syndrome metaphor.
  • It is possible for a teacher to run the technology infrastructure of a school. I know many teachers who take on this role.
  • Provide technology tools and avenues to empower users to share information and collaborate.
  • The skill of patience is a necessity when supporting diverse groups of users. Don’t make assumptions about technology use, there are diverse experiences and attitudes towards technology.
  • Implementing changes in technology requires thorough planning and strategy when dealing with such a diverse user base.
  • Even when you are confident that change in technology is better in the long the run, there tends to be a resistance to change that dampers the process. One needs to be build a thick skin when making school-wide technology changes. Keep pushing forward and try to win the few resistors over.
  • Not all users will read your first email or update, differentiate how you disseminate technology changes to the staff.
  • Tech support is a thankless job.
  • When users are not hollering, is it safe to assume there are no tech support issues? “All Quiet in the Western Front” or should tech support be worried that it is too quiet.
  • “I didn’t get the email” = “you didn’t read the email”

EdIT (Education Information Technology)

January 2, 2010 23 comments
Should EdTech evolve into a more broader profession to include Information Technology? Should EdTech take over IT departments at schools? Do you think schools have different IT requirements than other infrastructures? Here are my initial thoughts and ideas. Of course I welcome your thoughts and always willing to adjust accordingly.
  • Cloud computing has eliminated many in house IT needs and made IT operations web based.
  • EdTech understands the teacher and classroom needs.
  • EdTech has experience in both education and technology.
  • District budget costs – merge the two departments.
  • Traditional enterprise IT environment doesn’t fit open collaborative school environments.
  • Security concerns are not as stringent as corporate sectors.
  • Network requirements are not as comprehensive as corporate sectors.
  • IT departments should model 21st century learning environments.
  • Web 2.0 applications are simple, effective and affordable to use.
  • Finding a computer operations technician to fix everyday hardware issues is cheap.
  • No need to maintain own servers anymore.
  • Many teachers can run their own technology environments with proper training.

It has dawned on me that schools require a new bread of Information Technology than the traditional enterprise network. From my experience working and selling to corporate IT, the closed hierarchy lend itself to politics of control, security and money. I have tremendous respect for IT departments who have to manage secure enterprise networks spanning across the globe. However, when I look at schools, especially K12 communities, the secure enterprise network model doesn’t seem to fit the nature of a 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 classrooms.

This is where I feel the traditional IT Director may not fit the bill for school technology infrastructures. Simply put: “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 IT ground workers who take care of day to day technology support, but the Director of IT should be an Education 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.

I would like to coin the new department as EdIT (Education Information Technology). The EdIT director has to envision a school infrastructure that fosters 21st century skills and invests in products & training that lends itself to empowering teachers to use technology in the classroom. Why keep the two departments separate? EdTech should be driving the decisions on infrastructure, such as moving to a Google Apps environment for communication and collaboration. Not only does moving towards a cloud environment lend itself for better collaboration between teachers, it will also save money and time from an IT perspective. When we moved to this environment at our site, we saved plenty of money and time working on tech support issues while also creating an environment that supported effective real time communication.

The EdIT 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 products such as Doc Cams, SMARTboards, and Netbooks for classroom integration. It will also focus on collaborative web environments focused on wikis, microblogging, 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 EdIT director would focus primarily on professional development training with focus on technological pedagogical content knowledge (TPACK).

As our schools are evolving and continually to embrace educational technologies into the classroom, it only makes sense that Educational Technology should merge with Information Technology. But it will only work if the EdTech people make the decisions in the direction of all technology being put into the school.

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