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Re-defining Technical Support

@achurches wrote an insightful post titled “One Size Fits All”. He writes about the barriers to teacher creativity due in part to lack of flexibility from school and district administration and a locking down of technology by technical support staff.

I agree.

But teachers need help in working with tech staff. Allanah commented on “One Size Fits All” that we need to walk in each other’s shoes. Basically, let’s figure out how to communicate with each other.

I am on a mission to do three things:

  1. Help teachers/administrators talk to their tech staff. I am putting together this how-to that I will post here in the near future.
  2. Promote the right kind of professional development for technical staff. What are the issues in allowing access to wireless networks? How do you configure a device to allow for creative use? I am starting with a discussion about social learning tools with some very knowledgeable technical staff to identify the specific security issues that each presents (or not).
  3. Evangelize the construction of technical architectures that drive the right balance for learning and availability. In the absence of understanding the difference between administrative systems (that need to be secure and reliable) and teaching and learning systems (that need to be responsive and flexible), districts will choose a one-size-fits-all approach. Networks can and should be designed to support these two uses in different ways.

Wish me luck!


One Response

  1. Thanks for the reply Cindy. I have copied it here

    I agree with your comments as I have seen this communication breakdown, I have seen decisions being made or endorsed by people who have little or no knowledge or insight into the implications of these decisions. This is boards, principals, IT managers, teachers, technicians…. the whole spectrum.

    I am one of the privileged few teachers who has worked over a holiday break for a multinational doing tech support. I was a technician on the ground and running. So I have a perspective in both camps. I also know how little professional development is made available to technical staff and how little is actually designed for supporting a school environment. And as you reiterated, if you skimp on wages you end up getting what you paid for.

    Education must lead technology. We must give the teachers the room to experiment and innovate, but this does not mean Support is not involved, rather they should be assisting, suggesting and providing. This is the partnership to learning, teaching and support. There must be educational drivers. It must enhance learning.

    It is interesting that we expect our students to get stuff wrong. Good teachers use this oh so human trait, to get the best learning experiences. It focuses on what we don’t know and allows us to develop. The use of ICTs should also be like this, sometimes we have to try and get it wrong to know what works and what doesn’t. One size does not fit all here.

    Could any of us imagine a school where students were only allowed to be taught in one way – “chalk and talk”, where differences in learning styles (visual, kinesthetic, auditory or readwrite learner), intelligence types (Gardner’s Multiple intelligences) or gender differences are ignored? No such a school would be unthinkable (I hope). But in many cases this is exactly what happens with the use of IT.

    I think there are exceptions – Cindy sounds like one, I know a few others too. Isn’t it a pity they are the exception rather than the rule.


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