Recently, I was listening to a CheckThisOut podcast and the statement was made “It starts in IT.” In the year 2017 schools are still struggling with technology integration. The notion that was presented by Brian Briggs was that in order to implement technology fully in classrooms related to hardware selection/management, “It starts in IT.” If your IT department does not have a level of comfort innovating you will find yourself extremely limited with what can occur in classrooms today. IT departments in schools too often get stuck with the toolset they know and the tools they feel confident managing.
When I leave my own district and I’m out with teachers I still often hear, “We cannot access that, we’re told we can’t use that, and it’s blocked.” In 2017, we are still held at bay by our IT departments too often. I have been an IT professional for well over 20 years, and hearing this is still heartbreaking and often true.
My recommendation is that classroom teachers + parents + students rally and challenge administration to challenge IT. If you have IT professionals that lack the skillset to innovate or the will to innovate, there are ways that you can train them and educate them around the new value that they can offer just by being risk takers.
What devices are used-what standards are followed with projection and doc cameras and laptops and Chromebooks. What operating systems are supported still drive classroom instruction. For IT departments that want to better meet the needs of their classroom teachers, there are very inexpensive ways to innovate without putting the organization at risk for potential intrusive challenges. There is a happy medium that we can reach with classroom teachers in IT. The willingness on the part of the IT staff has to be to give up a little bit of power and control. If you are in a position where you manage the IT staff, you can easily make it part of their evaluation.
In classrooms, to support teachers that want to innovate, IT departments have to evolve and innovate themselves. Yes we have to follow laws. Yes we have to follow industry standards. Yes it is easier to manage only one type of hardware. Does that best meet the needs of our classroom teachers, I say no. I challenge IT leaders to stretch their own thinking around how to best support classroom teachers. If IT leaders are not “in classrooms”, they cannot see what a hindrance they are to learning. Invite them into your rooms. Encourage them to observe. Share this blog post and ask they reach out. #cueadmin is full of innovative IT Leaders. @CETPA has certified CTO’s that take courses in EdTech. There are avenues. There are support mechanisms. Nudge them.