By Trevor Hope, CIO Advisor
As a technology integration specialist in a school district, I find myself working in multiple departments and—as they say—wearing many hats. I primarily work in the curriculum department but I of course have to meet with the technology department and keep up to date on what they’re doing and vice versa. I have found that most people in my type of job come from an educational background. I have experience in both. I spent a few years before entering the classroom in the IT world, both in schools and out. Now that I work in both arenas I can look at tech issues with multiple lenses.
Too often I sit in meetings, whether it be with curriculum people or tech people, at my current district, at my last district or even at conferences or workshops, and find that people look at tech issues with only one agenda or lens. I often have to explain both sides of an issue to people. IT or tech department people often see things as yes or no: “Yes, this software will work on our network” or “No, this won’t work with our network.” In larger districts I know the problem becomes even bigger and disconnect from the students can be a problem. On the flip side, curriculum decision makers and teachers always want to hear yes or don’t understand why something wouldn’t work. "I found this piece of software that is designed for teachers to use with their students; why wouldn’t it work in my school?" And who can blame them? But there can be a myriad of possibilities of why something can’t work in a particular district. We need to be able to see things from every perspective.
There is no easy solution to this problem. Obviously, having tech integration specialists who can act as a liaison helps. (I’m not biased or anything.) Perhaps cross training administrators in each other’s disciplines is one part of the solution. After all, when preparing to be an administrator, everyone is required to take some sort of curriculum class, a law class, and a finance class, but I don’t remember being required to take a tech class in grad school.
Maybe this is a problem for our universities to address?
Trevor Hope is coordinator of instructional technology at Hawthorn School District 73 in Illinois. Follow him on Twitter as @trevhope.