Ephelyon (13th December 2012)
I must admit I found listening to a talk aimed at teachers very interesting as obviously they are our end users and are coming at things from a different angle.
I think some of the contents of the talk highlighted the gulf in understanding between teacher and tech that needs to be bridged to move IT in schools forward. The speaker made a comment that (and this is paraphrased) it was more important to be able to show some content from a memory stick with a virus than block it, (quote) "My memory stick has a virus? So what?" This was particularly interesting as the talk was about safety
I suspect that this wasn't a true reflection of the speaker's attitude and more of a play to the (teacher) audience but both sides can take something away from this comment.
Teachers can take away that there is a world outside there classroom and techs have a responsibility to keep all their users safe.
Techs can take away that teachers need to be able to do their job in the best way possible (within sensible limits - the virus example is not a good one )
I have been to many tech conferences and one teacher conference, the thing that struck me was how much better is would be for teachers and tech to attend IT conferences together with material aimed at both. I attended with the Deputy Head and we haven't stopped chatting over ideas since. I feel it would have been harder to start putting new ideas into practice without the input of both tech and curriculum knowledge.
Ephelyon (13th December 2012)
Couldn't agree more.
Try having an IT director who is also a teacher.
I think he forgets which hat he has on sometimes.
Last edited by James_C; 13th December 2012 at 10:14 AM.
Could be an issue. For a senior position like that, teacher route or techie route? My personal view is that the techie route is really a must, but only after significant experience of working alongside teachers and a proven track record of actually being useful.
In schools I am not am not keen on one person (teacher or tech) having an overall position like that. For me, moving IT forward in education is about collaboration between educational ideas and the reality of implementing it.
I like the way things work here, not saying we are perfect by any means, but the Deputy takes a curriculum view, I take a tech view and we discuss both of our ideas to try and move forward.
True, splitting the role in that sense can also work - in fact we do that here. The Head and I collaborate on strategy in the sense of merging "IT strategy" and "use of IT strategy" (which I don't consider to be the same thing), and we've recently set up (at my request) a strategic user group so that some of these issues can be considered more widely by the staff.
Sometimes you do need a single voice ... an evangelist ... and if there is only a single person that has to do everything then they really do need to be able to balance all sides.
My other half works in a primary school and last week had a meeting where all teaching staff were introduced/trained on using IPads in work. From what I was told it was relating to what you could do and how to get the most of them and to engage the kids into the subject they teach. Apparently it was interesting but all based around what you can do using an IPad. By the time she had finished telling me I asked 2 simple questions relating to why an IPad over another device (as everything she had told me could be done on multiple platforms) and how are they going to be managed and she looked at me blank and answered she didn't know.
Now I like the fact that IT is being enbraced in schools, but I couldn't help thinking that although the meeting was providing teachers with ideas of what things could be done, they were missing a key area from a tech support point of view. I do think that with a single tech person there it could have been questioned if IPads would provide the best value for money or present alternatives or even question what happens when things go wrong?
From a tech support point of view you don't need to provide an opinion of which direction the curriculum should take, but I would think it would be wise to consult with the people who know the school's current status IT provision together with the cost (not just money) of introducing new devices/requirements. In the past I have worked with members of staff in order to push their lessons further by incorporating more IT but when it comes to whole curriculum changes it seems that IT support can often be forgotten about as a source of knowledge.
I would always say it is a good thing to have a view from the opposite side of the fence as sometimes it is far too easy to get caught up in assuming things are done because people are lazy rather than having a balanced view of why things are done in a certain way.
Strategy groups are good, whoever they comprise, yes - but somebody will have to have it against their name and be ultimately responsible for it, won't they?
There is something to be said of getting folk in schools to understand project management, and the concept of the project sponsor / exec being the person where the buck stops.
However, you have to be careful not to think about everything being a project, otherwise you can stifle ideas and innovation.
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