I think its time we torch our current IT departments. That is a very scary statement for someone who is by title the Director of IT at a school district. But I do not lose sleep at night because I see myself as a director of ET! I look around at the current models of computer technology support and it makes me a little bit upset.
My goal of this post is not to make a sweeping generalization of my collegues in any way, shape, or form. The purpose of this article is to make people think and find out from other teachers what they NEED to support the educational process. If you read my previous post I come from the retail world where the customer is always right, I use the same customer service models in the school as I did in retail and they work.
According to Wikipedia,
“Information technology (IT) is the acquisition, processing, storage and dissemination of vocal, pictorial, textual and numerical information by a microelectronics-based combination of computing and telecommunications. “
If we break that definition down we basically get the management of data and data systems such as computers. Don’t get me wrong this is absolutely necessary to an extent. I feel that a lot of schools put to much focus on the “Break Fix” and “Systems Management” and do not place enough resources into the actual learning process by integrating technology.
Enter the ET department or the “Educational Technology” department.
(No not the cool little martian that flys on a bike towards the moon.)
With the ET model we are putting education first, we work with our teachers to integrate technology to enhance and support the learning process. Our goal is to create well rounded lifelong learners who can succeed in a global society.
How do we get to this model?
Step 1: TALK TO YOUR USERS
See what your teachers are saying. What do they need? Is it 15 minutes at the beginning of the week sharing some cool resources that you found on Twitter? or maybe sending them cool tips and tricks via email? Make resources readily available to them. I have found that this blog is an easy way for my users to catch up if they missed one of my sessions or get information about different topics. This summer I am building a portal for them in which they can find FAQ’s as well as post resources that can help each other. Make it easy. My predecessor Gary Larizza had a good point. “The technology CANNOT get in the way or the users will shut down”. I have also created a customer service survey form which can be found here. Encourage feedback, if there is an issue we need to hear about it.
Step 2: BE APPROACHABLE
This is not what your users should think of you:
Image from Technorati.com
Be seen. It is very important for your students and staff to see you. As ET professionals we have the ability to work from anywhere in our district. Sometimes during projects or those “my data center is on fire” moments this is not feasible but most of the time it is. Your users will understand if there is an emergency that you need to be left alone. Walk the hallways even if you are sending emails. Your presence will be noticed. This presence builds trust with your users and trust is KEY in this environment.
Step 3: UNDERSTAND & SUPPORT THEIR CRAFT
(Image from Kipandgary.com)
It is by nature that we are constantly connected to social media, blogs, videos, etc. Instead of looking for new careers on “Linked In” maybe look at an EdTech group or take part in a Twitter chat (Full schedule here) it is our job to be the explorer, find cool stuff and share! I have found that 15 minutes before classes start once during the week is enough to spark interest and get my teachers excited about technology.
Step 4: BE THE TECH GUY
Find balance between technical and curriculum. Remember you were hired to keep technology running and functioning this is very important. You still need to fix things in a timely manner. Taking the time to automate your technology tasks helps you be able to sustain both technology and the curricular side. If you do not already have a helpdesk implement one! WebHelpdesk is a free and very robust system that allows you to send email updates, run reports as well as manage assets. I have had very good luck with this system and it helps me manage time and resources much better.
Step 5: HAVE FUN!
When someone sees me in the hallway and asks “How are you?” I always respond “Living the dream” they think I am being koi or funny but its true. I love my job, I love my users, I love what I am doing. Bring passion to your job. If it was easy than everyone would be doing it.
I welcome comments and ways to improve this model! What are you doing in your school? Do you have a similar model?