I have observed that over time, a negative dynamic can evolve regarding technology support. At some point, all technology is magic, the thing that varies is how many names people have for the technologies. Who really understands exactly how 802.11B and G wireless networking works? I have some words for the technologies, but the bottom line for me is that these technologies (usually) just work. I had some conversations today at the Texas CoSN conference that touched on these issues. One person commented that their educational technology department had pulled so many rabbits out of hats in the past, that administrators just thought it was a given that similar magic could be performed on cue with short or no notice. The following quotation was the best one of the conference so far: I really resonated with it:
We have done so much with so little for so long, that now our administration is expecting us to do everything with nothing forever!
How true that can seem. I had a conversation today with one of the staff at a church in Lubbock, who was needing help getting a new staff member’s server account setup. This involved duplicating and modifying a batch file that mounts drives, adding the user to a previously defined group, and some other things– all server admin / network admin type stuff that is fairly technical. Not technical for a server admin person, but very technical for a lay person who is not accustomed to doing this sort of thing. My advice to this person was: DON’T DO THIS! (His job has nothing to do with technical/computer support.) The church needs to be paying someone to do their IT tasks, instead of having people volunteer to do it or people who really don’t know what they are doing hobble along and try to do these things.
I think some administrators don’t take notice of what the actual requirements are to do a particular technology task until someone stands up and says NO, I or WE CAN’T DO THAT. Then the question becomes, why not? And the reasons can be provided. The dynamic that exists in many organizations, however, is that people want to be seen as capable, team players, and so generally the answer is, “I’ll do my best.” At some point, however, limits can be reached, and it is much better if those limits are never reached, much less exceeded.
I don’t know if any of this resonates with anyone else, but it seems to me the issue of boundaries and defining what is realistic given present resources and other demands is an extremely important skill for technology support folks at all levels– and not just those who are officially technology support people. This is also important for people who are asked to perform technology support roles as additional duties, whether formally assigned or not.
The question that is asked: Can this be done?
The answer that is given: Theoretically, yes. Is it practical to do this today, by 5 pm? Maybe not. Or the answer could be, definitely not. Those latter answers are difficult to give, however, and I think the culture of technology support in many contexts doesn’t or won’t provide them when often they are what is needed. This likely extends beyond the realm of technology too– the plates of teachers are piled high with requirements, and despite that reality often legislatures and school administrators seem to pile even more on. Who is there to say for the teacher, enough is enough?! My plate is full, I can’t do anymore!
I think often, teachers view technology integration as yet another “extra” added onto their loaded plate– and that is why relatively few teachers across the board effectively integrate technology within their instruction each day.
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On this day..
- Interview with Chris Davis on "Journeys in Podcasting" Project - 2015
- Gameification is SO Much More Than Badges - 2015
- Using iPads in the Classroom? Check Out Classkick - 2015
- Visual Notes from Steven Anderson & Kyle Pace's ISTE Session for Administrators - 2013
- Open Educational Resources: Share, Remix, Learn #iste11 - 2011
- Copyright and licensing considerations when importing library audiobooks - 2010
- A great day of conversations at EduBloggerCon09 - 2009
- Leveraging social media tools for social change - 2009
- Wish a particular tool existed? Learn how to get it made! We'll design a tool together - 2009
- EduBloggerCon: Web 2.0 Smackdown - 2009