Technical Support and PD for Educators
One of the spotlights in our district is the existence of our department. This sounds like I’m bragging a bit, but my point is not that we are exceptional nor indispensable but that we provide a service that caters to the specific needs of educators.
Our district actually has two departments that helps educators with technology. We have a technology information systems department. This department is composed of many individuals. It has programmers to develop district resources on the network. It has network specialists to maintain and trouble shoot our network. It has technicians that repair computers. They are also charged with the process of preparing new computers for distribution to campuses or teachers. This process involves installing all district purchased or approved software. Each machine is then bound to a campus or teacher for inventory purposes. In a district our size this job is very daunting. It involves tens of thousands of computers.
The one thing that everyone in our Technology Information Systems department has in common is that with an exception here or there, none of them has ever been an educator. This might not seem important at first glance. They are hired for their technical expertise and they are charged with maintaining technology. The importance lies in their understanding of the client, and the needs of that client.
Before I delve deeper into this point I would like to talk about what we do in Instructional Technology. We are all educators. We have all been in the classroom for a number of years in one capacity or another. The primary goal of our department is to provide professional development for all educators in our district. This professional development operates with a vision in mind. We help teachers understand current and emerging technology so it can be contextually applied in their daily lessons. All of our professional development takes into account the teacher’s grade level, content of instruction and level of experience with technology. We tailor our instruction to help teachers with varying degrees of experience and expertise. This requires that we are all up to date with the latest technologies and instructional methodologies. This does not mean we understand the teacher’s content as well as the teacher. I don’t think anyone in our department can solve a linear regression. We can help that teacher use the technology to provide instruction using a variety of technology models.
A crucial part of our job is technology. The network must work all the time. Computers must be operating at optimal performance. This is where that understanding of the client is important. Before I was a teacher I worked in the world of business. At one point I operated a computer business of my own. The client is the most important part of any business. The client brings in revenue to pay the bills, and that includes employee payrolls. Service to the client is paramount. If the client is dissatisfied, the client will go elsewhere. Education has a different model. Each educator is our client and by extension so is every student in our district. The teacher relies on technology for instruction and because they rely on that technology, the student misses out if that technology does not function as needed.
We understand teachers and students are our clients. Our economic model is different. If the service fails to live up to expectations the teacher cannot go anywhere else. Students are left without needed services. Technology services like our Technology Information Systems department must be responsive to the needs of their clients as though their pay checked relied on that client. Technology repair should be done as effectively as possible to get the teacher back to their job of teaching. Network services should assure that all systems are available and accessible. If they fail here none of us can do our job. If we can’t do our job then our students receive less of an education. All our students deserve the best we can offer and that should come from every department.
I believe it is crucial that everyone that works in a district understand the crucial role they play in our children’s education. It is not the job of the teacher to maintain or repair technology no more than it is the job of a police officer to repair his car or a nurse to repair an X-ray machine.