In this section we tried to answer the following key questions.
- How can technology director ensure resources and process are in place to maintain school technology?
- What must the technology director do to ensure proper technical support for end users?
- How can the technology director provide support for technology skills development?
When schools invest on expensive technology solutions, as a technology director, you will be responsible for ensuring that all those systems and the software’s are kept up-to-date and running as intended. This process is known as maintaining technology and is usually an on-going process throughout the systems or software life cycle.
According to wikipedia  maintenance includes all those actions that are carried in order to fix any sort of mechanical or electrical devices that have are broken or out of order by performing the routine actions which keep the devices in working order or prevent troubles from arising. This usually requires technical staff and special system known as Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) to ensure updates and upgrades to software and hardware is provided in a timely manner. Additionally, maintenance also includes on-going technical support to resolve all of those issues that are not solved by the routine preventive maintenance.
In this section, we will look at some of the ways schools can provide preventive maintenance through backup and disaster recovery procedures, network maintenance, software and hardware update/upgrades as well as corrective maintenance including repair, back-up and restoring techniques. Finally, we will look at the life of a system and when and how it can be replaced.
Technological problems and concerns can be very frustrating for the students and also teachers. These problems usually derive from different sources. For instance, these sources might be unreliability of the school technology system, not having enough on-going support or the quickly changing nature of the information technologies. As people who are directing the technology at schools, we can avoid these types of problems by having technical support . Technical support is critical for influencing the amount of technological problems and developing an appropriate and immediate response to the problems . Usually technical support has three different sources. First, there is basic hardware support -- the familiar maintenance contract on your computer or printer. Second, comes systems support -- most typically support for network server and operating systems and cabling. Finally there is application support -- providing help with application software like Microsoft Office or a specialist application like an accounts package or database .
Training and Expectations
Almost all research on technology and learning concludes that it is imperative for an educational institution to have a technology plan in place and approved before anything else. Two major parts of this technology plan must include setting expectations and effective, complete training of all staff, teachers, and students.
Setting and Maintaining Expectations
The best expectations should be thought of as learning goals. Learning about technology and how to use it properly and effectively must be thought of as a learning goal, not an extra activity or reward as is unfortunately the typical thought process in the past. Setting expectations for staff, teachers, and students is necessary in order to communicate what is expected of everyone, and ensure that each person is performing as desired. Once clear expectations are set, then they must be enforced in order to ensure that each person continues to perform as desired and is given additional training and support as necessary.
According to a study done at Simmons College in Boston, Massachusettes, 99% of incoming students reported having access to computers at home and 96% reported having access at school. But what the study also assessed is how students handled technical problems while using computers. 96% reported that they ask a family member or a friend for assistance. Immediately the issue becomes what happens when students encounter technical problems on their own or at school that should be able to be remedied by the teacher. Who do they ask for help? What if the teachers are not well-trained enough to handle these problems?
In the same study students were given a problem asking them to decide which web site was the more credible of the two shown. One site was from the National Science Foundation while the other was a "hoax" site. According to the study, 76% of incoming students were not able to distinguish which of the two sites was the most credible. This shows that institutions must ensure that teachers are able to distinguish credible sites from bogus sites and be able to teach students how to detect the same.
Furthermore, 33% of incoming students did not know that computer viruses can be trasnmitted through files, disks, compact discs, or via email.
Educators' top priority must be to equip the students with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful. Proper use of technology must be included in today's curricula. Teachers need to train students to be successful technical problem solvers and effective and efficient users of technology. But, in order to help students gain all this knowledge of technology and computers, teachers need to be given enough effective training to bring their proficiency levels to a very solid standard. Teachers should work with the technology department. For example, if a teacher were to assign a project where students have to create a video, the teacher should work with the technology department to determine if video equipment and editing tools are even available. Staff and administration need to be proficient as well both for administrative purposes and being a part of the social support structure in an institution. In terms of setting expectations, it can be thought of as a domino effect and include some expectations similar to the following examples.
Institutions should expect students to be able to:
- effectively operate technology
- effectively solve basic and some intermediate technical problems
- distinguish between credible and bogus information and sources on the Internet
- be creative and explore technology both in class and independently
- understand the gains as well as the risks involved with different technology
- graduate with the proficiency level required to be successful in future endeavors
Institutions should expect teachers to:
- attend all training, and make up any training missed within a certain time period
- acquire a solid level of proficiency enabling them to effectively teach what students are expected to learn
- supervise students at all times, especially when on the Internet
- know, understand, and communicate the law and regulations students must abide by and be aware of
- design learning environments where technology is used as an integral part of learning
- work with the technology department when designing learning experiences
- effectively use formative and summative assessment to gauge students' level of proficiency
Staff and Administration Expectations
Institutions should expect staff and administrators to:
- attend trainings as necessary to achieve same level of proficiency as teachers
- use well-designed assessments to ensure quality of learning environments and integrated technology
- use formative and summative assessments to evaluate, support, and develop teachers' proficiency
- effectively use institutional software (student records, report cards, etc.)
Training should be based on the expectations that were set. Effective and complete training should be given to all parties in order to meet expectations. Continue to Training for detailed training discussion.