could be a complicated job because
administrators and teachers tend to
focus on students and achievement,
and IT techs are mainly concerned
with infrastructure. When I started my
position, there were no guidelines except to make sure teachers and administrators were supported and that IT
kept things working in the classroom.
I began by setting up meetings with
each site administrator to determine
specific problems and needs. Some
sites needed assistance with the video-on-demand system, and others needed
basic instructions for setting up classroom computers.
These meetings also allowed me a
chance to do some basic troubleshooting, and sometimes I was able to fix
It’s in my nature to solve problems,
ask questions, listen carefully to instructions and answers, and communicate needs clearly, so it was easy for me
to clearly explain problems to IT, which
helped streamline the support process.
The rapport I developed paid off. Administrators and teachers began asking
me for assistance when equipment
broke down or systems failed because I
spoke this foreign language of IT.
My site visits also unveiled some
kinks in the system. I discovered that
many teachers were unaware of the
district’s tech plan and didn’t know we
had switched servers from Windows
to Linux. This caused headaches for
one school when officials purchased
software that wouldn’t run on Linux.
Had they read the tech plan, school
officials would have understood that
all equipment must be cleared through
IT to avoid situations like this. It was a
It is not unusual for teachers and administrators to become frustrated when they cannot articulate how they’d like to see technology integrated into the curriculum.
program in a way it was not designed
for. At the same time, IT technicians
can become so focused on system and
hardware upkeep that they are unable
to help teachers integrate tools effectively in the classroom.
Solving these conflicts comes down
to listening and problem solving.
When teachers complain that their
students cannot access the school
servers from home, a helpful IT tech
should offer alternatives, such as suggesting they store data on USB drives
or use the file section of the student
When the video-on-demand system
goes down, the easiest thing to do is
move students into another classroom.
That’s fine for a temporary fix, but
classroom disruption can ruin a well-thought-out lesson. Rather than just
demand to have the equipment fixed
immediately, which never goes over
very well, a teacher should explain the
impact on the students and make a case
for getting a quicker permanent fix.
After all, we’re all here to help improve
student achievement, and IT techs generally will accommodate such requests
if they understand the justification.
about programs he has developed for
our district. His first exposure to an
ed tech conference was to support a
teacher whose students were asked to
present their project at the California
After spending some time walking
through the exhibit hall together, we
talked about what was working and
what was not in the classroom. He
got a better understanding of what a
classroom teacher needs, and he later
got the chance to collaborate on some
projects. He has since become involved
with ed tech organizations such as
K– 12 Open Source and the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN).
He has also become very involved with
open-source programs, and he has
helped our school make tremendous
strides in technology integration.
Failure to Communicate
It is not unusual for teachers and
administrators to become frustrated
when they cannot articulate how they’d
like to see technology integrated into
the curriculum. It’s very common, for
example, for a teacher to ask to use a
Getting IT techs involved beyond the
nuts and bolts of system upkeep is key
to getting them to buy in to your projects. Three years ago, our IT director,
Jim Kein, would never have attended
conferences such as Computer Using Educators (CUE) or ISTE’s annual conference and exposition. Now
he not only attends, but he presents
Now our IT department looks for
ways to streamline tech support. It
was our IT director who implemented
a help desk, a simple phone number
that teachers can call to get assistance
quickly. If the question can’t be handled over the phone, the technician
will take over the computer remotely
using virtual network computing and
try to correct the problem. If the situation cannot be resolved, the next step
is a repair request. Even teachers who
are reluctant to call appreciate the efficiency of the help desk.
A new level of cooperation and respect has surfaced over the last couple
of years. Sometimes I am able to work
with educators and IT techs to find
Getting IT techs involved beyond the nuts and bolts of system upkeep is key to getting them to buy in to your projects.