#edtech for #edleaders: Understanding IT Management

One focus of professional development relative to information and computer technology (ICT) in schools has been managing it. When computers first arrived, and machines were stand-alone devices, individual educators were able to manage the computers in their classrooms with independence; software was purchased for single machines and printers and similar peripherals were connected to specific machines. As computers were connected to networks, the task of managing ICT became more complicated and was assigned to specialists. Even then, however, some management tasks fell to educators; knowing which software was available on which computers and knowing how to (for example) schedule the projector and get it operating in the place where it as needed. Further, educators’ management of ICT frequently fell within the limits of controlled systems; educators and students used school-owned computers to access networks controlled by the school.

In the 21st century, however, the task of managing ICT in the classroom has expanded for educators. In those communities where one-to-one initiatives have provided each student with a computer, managing computer storage and electrical outlets and network connections have been added to educators’ tasks, as has previously unnecessary set up and clean up time for activities, and managing many new distractions to students. Further complicating the task of managing ICT in schools is the widespread availability of handheld computers and cell phones. For much of the history of computers in schools, educators have struggled with the problem of “not everyone having a computer;” but in the 21st century, the problem has reversed, and now educators are faced with the problem of adapting to “everyone having a computer.”

In many instances, the devices “every student has” have diverse capacity as well. Portable computing devices demonstrate convergence, so the handheld in a student’s pocket has the capacity to take pictures, be a notebook, and perform calculations. All of these are very useful tasks in the classroom. Further, the many of the handheld devices students bring into the classroom can access the Internet. This access can be through wireless access points to the networks controlled by the school or by wireless telecommunications over which the school can exercise no control.  The problem of managing the technology in ICT-rich classrooms is wicked, and as communities adopt more and more diverse technology the problems will become more complex.