ISTE 2013 – CoSN – Technology Department Landscape
The Technology Department Landscape: That was Then, This is Now
Todd’s key take-aways from this session. Though we are all working in different States, Provinces, Countries – and our districts vary in size, we have very similar issues. This was a great opportunity to talk and learn from our colleagues from around the world. The room was packed, and there was definitely a spirit of collaboration and cooperation!
Jean Tower, the Chair of CoSN introduced the session today, and then ISTE President Kecia Ray greeted everyone for a couple of moments.
Greg DeYoung, CIO for IT Blue Valley School District, KA moderated a panel discussion. There were four panelists sitting at a table in the front. Hmmm. Tough to see everyone sitting on the panel when the table is at the same height as our tables, and therefore we couldn’t really see them at all.
Todd’s Tips for Successful Panel Discussions: Have the panelists sitting on a raised platform so that attendees can see.
Viki Lyons – technology department should be part of learning, not the “business” of school. Hmmm. That’s interesting, isn’t education the only business of schools? The problem for Viki was that technology was not really part of the classroom. However it seems to have been a hard discussion to have with her technology folks. Now ensures that her technology folks sit in with the learning folks when things are happening.
Todd’s Tips for Successful Panel Discussions: If you’re going to have panelists talk for a prescribed amount of time – hold them to it. If it’s 2 minutes, don’t let them ramble for 10
Sheryl Abshire – CTO – Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, LA
Beverly Knox-Pipes – Former Assistant Superintendent for Technology and Media Services, Michigan/ Current Private Consultant, Distance Education and Instructional Technology
– We need to understand what needs to be built, but also what skills and training are needed by the staff to keep the things being built running. And these courses are very expensive, but very worthwhile.
Anton Ingelese, CIO, Batavia Public School District 101, IL
– Anton started working in schools as a Sophomore in high school. He knew he didn’t want to work in technology because the hours were long, and hard, and no one appreciated it. After he went to post-secondary, came back, and wants to help transform the service to a customer centric delivery model.
– Currently they are working to be an intermediary and service provider and security officer for their schools.
Todd’s Tips for Successful Panel Discussions: If you hand out a printed agenda with specific times on them, it looks bad when your first scheduled item goes way over time.
We spent a number of minutes talking around our table about issues/challenges that we face in our departments. Lots of the discussion revolved around change and change management. But also a lot of conversation about platforms, BYOD, 1:1, etc. Lots of good advice came out from our participants. The overall pace of the change cycle has increased. Massive change in the last 10 years. In 1:1 programs, the administrator must be a good leader. Just because each kid has a laptop, doesn’t mean they are doing anything amazing – it is still just a worksheet. Change is hard for tech staff, sometimes they feel that it’s a job security issue.
Tables reported back the concepts that were discussed within their groups
– Infrastructure is a key issue for everyone
– Training of staff
– We need less constraints – does everyone have to have the same thing?
Todd’s note: There is still the us and them discussion about locking down machines. Why does this discussion still come up?
– Need for more support staff who help as technology coaches, working side-by-side with teachers.
– Equity of access is still important (access to network resources, access to computers)
– Funding is a constant constraint
– Online testing is feared, but it is needed.
– People who talk the talk, but don’t walk the walk
– Communication between IT department and rest of the school is not always great
– Director/CIO needs to be at the table as technology is so integrated, but often not considered
– Budget problems
– Should we tell the story about why we need to do what we do? How do we lead the necessary change.
– Without the technology and bandwidth to make it work – it’s hard to make the technology integration successful.
– It can’t be just the bits and bytes, but the educators need to be involved from day 1.
Todd’s Tips for successful group discussions: Everyone should use a microphone when speaking to the large group, AND, use it successfully! One needs to hold the microphone relatively still, relatively close to their mouths…
Okay, good overall comments. Now bringing the panel back for more comment on what they heard:
Viki – Leadership is a critical issue. As leadership improves, many of these problems disappear. Fractured leadership can be even more problematic than NO leadership – Great point Viki!
Anton – Leadership isn’t about having the right answers, it’s about having the right questions – Peter Drucker. It’s not about technology, it’s about learning. What is it we’re really doing? Are we supporting and personalizing learning?
Beverly – Participated with CoSN in order to help improve the leadership piece. You don’t need to be an educator to do this well, this is about learning your job and doing it well, not just about how you get there.
Sheryl – Leadership happens at any level. Working together as a leadership team is critical. But policy is also important. Are our policies current? Do they meet the needs of today and the future? Are they fluid? In the absence of good policy, things are going to happen that may not be an intended consequence. Regardless of size of jurisdiction – we’re all educating students. If you give teachers an opportunity to find the one thing that fires them up, they will do something amazing!
Beverly – We need to celebrate where we’ve come from, and what we’re doing today! We are doing some GREAT things! Don’t forget. You can tell how you’re doing when teachers are asking “How do I do this thing in my class” rather than “How do I re-boot my computer”
Moderator: More table discussion. What are you focusing on?
– Get tech staff to understand why they are here
– Get a more solid infrastructure, so you can spend more time in the classroom
– Move services into core/cloud – same difference to end users.
– Emphasizing why you do BYOD or 1:1 – not just because
– Communication is a big issue, especially between “IT” department and education
– Collaboration has become a buzzword in education, but we rarely apply it to conversations between education and technology… Hmmm <- Great point!
– Sometimes the role of technology is to take care of the mundane details, to allow teachers to focus on learning with students.
Todd’s Tips for Moderating Discussion – if you are giving people a 1 minute warning, don’t let them go for another 5 minutes. After 1 minute, get started.
– Need to ensure communication between schools and technology – example given where a school got a grant for iPads, but didn’t have wireless. Or getting document cameras without projectors.
– Is there a long term plan?
– How do we make our wireless attractive to students so that they use it?
– Walk a mile in the other persons shows (Tech and Education)
– Restructure departments so everyone is in the same page.
Thanks for the discussion
Reminder: CoSN 2014 – March 19-22 – Continuously Connected Constantly Learning – Washington D.C.