Jeff Moore posted some good reflections about the evolving role of computer technologists in schools back in November as a short podcast.

I heartily agree with Jeff’s contentions that educational technologists in schools should be developers rather than installers, and should be viewed as TEACHERS rather than technicians. Schools serious about helping students and teachers develop 21st century literacy skills MUST provide the type of instructional technology development and integration assistance that Jeff is talking about.

The problem, of course, is that many school districts just provide technicians in schools, and assume teachers will figure out how to use available hardware/software tools on their own– or after taking some traditional one-shot educational technology workshops.

Jeff also discusses his concerns about open source technologies needing to become mainstream, for schools as well as users. He hopes that Linux will become a viable desktop operating system in the future, and thinks it is close to being viable now. He sees Linux and open source technologies becoming “the ultimate expression of social networks” of which the Internet is one expression. Although not mentioned by Jeff specifically, Edubuntu is certainly a step in the right direction from this perspective.

I think helpful words to describe what educational technologists should be are coaches, hand-holders, mentors, and integrators. I agree with Miguel Guhlin who has written previously about the need for educational technologists to infiltrate the curriculum departments of school districts, and become technology-using curriculum specialists in different content areas.

Educational technologists in schools are advocates, cheerleaders, encouragers and counselors. Their role is vital, and generally speaking, I don’t think we have enough of them at this point in most school systems.

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2 Responses to Good thoughts on school computer technologists

  1. Mark Ahlness says:

    Wesley,
    We do not have enough of them, right. In a perfect world, this top down model, with all levels receiving plenty of (financial) support works well.

    But I am a classroom teacher, and I know this is not a perfect world, there is not enough $ by a long shot to support the technology needs of the classroom teacher. Teachers simply do not have this time to be taught by others. The top down model is flawed, and we all know it is not working.

    Friedman has suggested the world is flat. I would suggest those involved in the world of educational technology training take a good look at what he is saying. And figure out how what he says about how the business world must change – is a mandate for the change of education technology training as well. – Mark

  2. Wesley Fryer says:

    Lots of people have drawn parallels between the business and educational environments in the past I think, especially when it comes to technology. These parallels may be well intentioned, but I don’t think they are always applicable. In his book “Oversold and Underused” Larry Cuban talks about this quite a bit. People assume because technology has changed business so much, its mere introduction into classrooms will transform education. As we all know, that is not the case.

    I think your suggestion for new models of professional development and learning are on target. Time is one of the biggest factors we all have to contend with. Until school schedules change, along with curricular requirements and expectations, it’s hard to see broad scale change happening.

    I think teacher mentoring is key. This happens accidentally in most cases I think, I don’t see many examples of effective, formalized mentoring programs that actually work in schools. What you are talking about doing is mentoring other teachers, so “just in time support” can be provided. Learning in context is the only authentic way to learn, when it comes to educational technology or anything else. So no, there are not any easy answers. Hang in there!

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