TAO

The TAO Of K12 Technology Implementations

#EduIT

by Howard Chan @socratech 

Over the past decade, the explosion of technology initiatives in K12 has seen some amazing successes and colossal failures. Everything from the wildly popular use of Google Apps for Education, to the infamous LA school district doomed 1 billion dollar iPad rollout, K12 technology implementations have run the full spectrum of progression and frustration. And as we continue to roll out 1:1 and other technology initiatives, the discussion must evolve from “what to purchase” to a much broader set of questions that encompass a wide variety of stakeholders.

In order for technology implementations to be successful in schools, there needs to be a healthy communication loop, plan, and support with three groups of stakeholders. I call them the TAO: Teachers, Administration and Operations. The diagram above provides a guide of different items many of these groups deal with in successful technology implementations, but not always bounded in their domains. It is where you typically would see items being discussed, planned and supported. Feel free to use this diagram to help guide your technology implementations. As you can see, there are many variables at play when bringing technology into your school districts. But with building a strong team that includes all members of the TAO, technology implementations will continue to see successes in K12 school environments. I encourage you to add to this growing list as technology implementations continue to evolve by leaving a comment below.

*I already know this list will evolve to include parents, students, and community, but I view this list from the staff running the schools.

This stems from a past blog post I wrote below on the Evolving Role of the K12 Technology Department

There was a time when K12 technology departments were just seen as technical support, district compliance (also known as “control”) and managers of data information. It was the office filled with “geeks” who knew very little about teaching and preferred to speak in bits and bytes. It was often treated as a separate entity responsible for making sure equipment was working properly and data was protected from security breaches. The thought of the technology department making decisions on any academic programs was as far fetch as teachers making decisions on technology infrastructure. How times have changed…

In recent years, those ideas above have quickly merged into what I call Education Information Technology, the concept of blending technology with education to support next generation schools and classrooms. The thought of separate entities are quickly becoming the old model, where nowadays, decisions have to be collaboratively made between academics and technologists. Technology decision makers have a crucial role in evolving the educational model for our schools and districts. With the proliferation of online tools, makerspaces, data dashboards and interactive technologies in the classroom, technology decision makers are dealing with far more implications than firewalls and routers. Not only are network infrastructure considerations critical to support the classrooms, but the instructional tools that teachers are using are leaning towards the technology pendulum at exponential rates.

The tech architecture now has multiple layers to design and evaluate, and requires a more comprehensive systems perspective from our technologists. Technologists are now asked to understand how instructional technologies such as learning management systems, social media sites, 3D printers, and video cameras are integrating with information data systems and network infrastructure. Technologists are now asked to balance a fair acceptable use policy to answer security and safety concerns, while providing teachers and students open access to the Internet and social networks. Technologists are now asked to filter student data points and design integrated systems to provide teachers dashboards of information. Technologists are now asked to evaluate digital tools and online curriculum to make decisions on blended learning models. Technologists are now asked to understand parent, student and teacher needs for end-user devices to support 21st century learning. Technologists are now asked to facilitate professional development and develop a culture around 21st century learning. It almost naturally brings up the question…

Do our technology decision makers need an education background to support the next generation school? From my experience, I have seen some amazing teachers handle all services in the technology department, and I have also seen amazing IT folks with compassion and understanding of educator needs. No matter what spectrum the tech decision makers come from, the head of technology need a new set of skills and framework to tackle the rapidly evolving 21st century learning environment.

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