DAILY INSIGHT: Increase the bodies, not just the tools

By Steve Young, CIO Advisor

Our local group of K-12 technology leaders shared some interesting numbers this past week about how many devices each one of their technicians usually supports. The numbers were very telling, especially when looked at in the light of the increasing spend on educational technology, which topped out at over $13 billion this past year, up over 11% from the past year. Several districts shared that their technicians were now supporting between 1,100 and 1,300 devices each. By any measure, this is a daunting workload for one person. One district shared that its workload for each technician was more than 1,900 devices. This monumental workload is only being increased as schools increasingly turn to technology for almost all back office functions and instructional use.

Can we really expect that teachers and students are getting the attention they need and work-order turnaround times they deserve, when they rely so heavily on technology? In what other industry should a professional have to wait a week to have his or her technology operational again? Yet in K-12 this happens all the time, as schools buy more software and hardware, yet fail to fund the personnel needed to ensure high availability and quick repair times.

Many technology departments have even faced personnel cuts, as budgets have been tightened. Is this really setting K-12 up for success in implementing technology, or is this a recipe for disaster? What district would add 100 buses to its fleet without more mechanics and bus drivers? Of course this would not be done, as it is plainly ridiculous. Nonetheless, districts do this with technology every day, without assessing the real impact on teachers and students of having poorly supported technology.

Steve Young is CTO of Judson ISD in Texas and founder of the San Antonio Area Technology Directors group. He blogs at CTO Technotes, where this is cross posted. Follow him on Twitter as @atemyshorts.