A Little Reality Regarding Technology in Schools

I’ve spent my career working in education… well sort of. I started as a science and math teacher, then became a computer teacher which led me to becoming a technology coordinator—a position that includes many potential job functions. I have filled them all.

Several hiring committees have selected me when they needed someone to sit between faculty and IT. Because I have worked (and continue to work) in both fields, I understand what teachers want and need and I know what IT is attempting to accomplish.

Because I have watched and advised leaders during my career, I see how they struggle to provide effective direction and supervision to IT professionals. Most school leaders began their careers as faculty (that is less true in higher education than in k-12) and are comfortable with the language, problems, and tools of education. They are not comfortable with IT… and it shows.

There is a situation mare common in schools that leaders are willing to admit (at least publicly): the IT systems are too difficult to use, and they do not provide the capacity that teachers and students need.

Along with that situation is the reality that school leaders do not know how to approach this situation. In effect, IT professionals have unchallenged authority to make IT decisions even if those decisions make the systems unusable.

The resolution to this problem, at least in my experience, is collaboration, but the collaboration must be grounded in shared understanding of the purpose of the IT in the school and a commitment to design—an on-going process of evaluating the IT and changing it to more clearly align with its purpose.