K-12 School Computer Networking/Chapter 21
Staff Relations and Collaboration in the Use of Technology Resources
Over 20 years ago a study showed that teachers did not view computers as a threat to their jobs. They believed that computers should be used in all subject areas and that teaching computer literacy is the responsibility of teachers on all grade levels. However, in that study it also showed that 50% of teachers indicated a preference for traditional teaching methods; the other half felt that students enjoy using computers and should have more access to them and believed that students learn faster on computers. Today, computers assist in the teaching/learning process. When teachers are provided with opportunities to acquire appropriate computer skills, they gain access to an unfathomable amount of information. However, unless teachers view computers as an opportunity, it is unlikely that they will use technology constructively, to help facilitate classroom work and achieve educational goals. But how can this be done without isolating the traditionalist teachers versus the technology driven teachers? Many factors are involved and covered in this topic. The position of Technology Coordinator at a school is presumed in this discussion.
The Job of the Technology Coordinator
Technology coordinators in general work with principals, department heads, teachers, and others who will help implement the district/school technology plan. They establish evaluation guidelines so that data from different schools can be compared and can be used as part of the evaluation of district progress. They develop, implement, and periodically evaluate technology instruction and training. This assists them in developing resources in every discipline to provide leadership in working to accomplish instructional technology plans. They help teachers and school administrators become functionally computer-literate and learn their roles in accomplishing the technology plans. In addition they assist the school board/district in developing and implementing plans for the acquisition and maintenance of hardware and software. This involves going out for bids for necessary equipment,etc. These acquisitions accommodate the needs of each of the schools in the district consider current use and availability of equipment to determine location of equipment and how it will provide a more efficient use of technology. The technology coordinator is also responsible for maintenance which includes routine preventive maintenance as well as more general repair and replacement. They are responsible to train teachers to at least do a minimal level of maintenance. Technology coordinators help develop and implement procedures for the evaluation of software, hardware, and course ware, and for the sharing of the results of those evaluations. They are involved in district research projects to evaluate instructional use of computers and tie in with national or state organizations that are doing software evaluation. Technology coordinators, with all other school employees, work to improve the overall quality of education received by students. They must be sensitive to equity issues and work to resolve inequities, and be an educational "change agent." To accomplish this they must participate in the development of curricular standards and benchmarks to encourage appropriate use of technology; work with teachers and peers to develop lesson plans and activities involving use of technology. Technology coordinators inform teachers of new technologies, both hardware and software, which may assist in developing content specific materials, and must be aware of trends in the field of technology in education. So what does a district/school look for in a technology coordinator? A broad general education and dedication to lifelong learning. Overall intelligence and perseverance; a strong work ethic; high ethical standards; self-confidence; good time-management skills; budgeting and other fiscal skills. Appropriate skills for teaching school children as well as educators and other adults, are required as is knowledge of curriculum, curriculum development, and school reform and knowledge of testing and assessment. Technical coordinators must also have knowledge in the fields of computer science, computer education, and the broad range of technologies used in hypermedia environments. A technology coordinator has many responsibilities, but ultimately, the job is measured by how effectively teachers use technology in the classroom. So, communication and understanding the school's attitudes is as important as anything. According to Keengwe, et al. (2008):
- ...It is usually the factors that are personal and deeply ingrained, such as teachers’ beliefs about the instruction process ... and the value of computing in education ... that play a big role in the way teachers generally integrate educational technology tools into instruction.
Bill Mackenty, an instructional designer for Hunter College in New York City, agrees that managing personal relationships is central to this role. He blogs about studying the field of “emotional intelligence” in order to have effective communications with different groups of educators.
Definition of Educational Technology
- Educational technology is most simply and comfortably defined as an array of tools that might prove helpful in advancing student learning. Educational Technology relies on a broad definition of the word "technology". Technology can refer to material objects of use to humanity, such as machines or hardware, but it can also encompass broader themes, including systems, methods of organization, and techniques. Some modern tools include but are not limited to overhead projectors, laptop computers, and calculators. Newer tools such as "smartphones" and games (both online and offline) are beginning to draw serious attention for their learning potential.
It is important to remember that "technology" and "computers" are not synonyms. It is also helpful to discuss this concept with teachers—especially those who are reluctant to use new technology. There really is not a classroom in this country that uses no technology at all (even pencils and blackboards are types of "technology.")
Context of School
School Administrators in charge of technological resources should work to foster an open and healthy climate that allows teacher and staff to have supportive communication to share ideas about the use of computers in the classroom setting. Many schools have technical coordinators who for the most part purchase or utilize the software approved by the school administration. Teachers are often forced to learn and implement a curriculum in which they had little or no input, and often do not have the opportunity to initiate new practices. Because their input is not given, potential for improvement with current technical resources does not occur. Oftentimes teachers and administrators do not have enough time or do not have time set aside to collaborate on projects or resources that may be beneficial to their peers or the school system in general. Teacher are a times not allowed to engage in activities that would bring new knowledge for changes in computer education because they can only utilize the computers within the context of the curriculum already designed. Professional development time and resources are as important as open communication and time for collaboration on and implementation of technological projects. Peer-to-peer training is perfectly acceptable, and even desirable in many cases, but teachers should not be left to train themselves on their own time. Schools that do not take teacher input into account, do not provide time for experimenting and collaborating, and that don't provide adequate training will, inevitably, suffer from bad relationships between the teaching faculty and the technology staff. An “us versus them” attitude is counterproductive and difficult to overcome.
Technology coordinators and administrators should organize monthly meetings with teachers for the purposes of informing teachers about upcoming or future changes to software or technical resources, changes to procedures and practices, etc. These monthly meetings will allow the teachers to express and share their ideas on the current technology they are using, solve problems and create an ongoing communication network. These meetings can lead to assessments. These assessments can provide evidence to technology coordinators essentially about what works or is working and what is not. If this type of communication is lacking in the school, it fosters a sense of mistrust and animosity between teachers and use of advanced and improved technical resources. Not as a detriment to their students, but as a passive aggressive behavior to show their displeasure with the "authoritarian" methods of introducing technology to their learning environment. Teacher and technology administrators need to have a collaborative setting to discuss and share instructional ideas and materials. Technology leaders can show initiative and willingness to accept or at least listen to new ideas and offer an "opening" to assist with the problem solving in relation to using technology at schools. This will in turn empower the teachers to seek help on these issues from students,parents and others to identify the best solutions.
Barth (1990) stated that a good school is a place in which everyone is teaching and everyone is learning simultaneously under that same roof. Taking this a step further regarding staff interaction with technology resources, schools should involve the teachers to take advantage of suggestions and "untapped" knowledge available to them without hiring consultants to explain to teachers what they may already know regarding what resources are best for their setting. Relying on teachers for providing knowledge and other input to technology use at the school has the added benefit of making it easier for faculty “buy-in” of new technologies and technological projects. Goals for technology use and sharing of technological ideas at a school can be formed around this concept, and then the goals can be used to formalize the structure of the relationship between the technology staff and the rest of the faculty. Generic goals, that can be applied to almost any school:
- Teachers workload and time constraints will be respected.
- Teachers' methods and styles will be considered when implementing new technologies.
- Teachers' level of understanding about educational technology will improve each year.
- Teachers will be used for peer-to-peer training of “standard” or preexisting technologies.
- “Best Practices” will be promulgated through the faculty.
- Teachers will have a major role in deciding the role of technology in their classrooms.
- The best instructional techniques should be used in the classroom—whether or not they involve technology.
It is not a trivial task to reach theses goals. The technology coordinator must have access to administration as well as faculty, and good communication with both. The relationship between teaching faculty and the technology staff must be formalized, or at least analyzed and understood by the coordinator. Perhaps the most important role that the technology coordinator has, with respect to relationships with the faculty, is as a teacher. Given a school environment, this would seem to be obvious, but it is important to keep in mind pedagogical concepts. Dewey (1902) said: “The problem of direction is thus the problem of selecting appropriate stimuli for instincts and impulses which it is desired to employ in the gaining of new experience.” So, the technology coordinator should use the existing knowledge and skills of the faculty to build upon and advance the use of educational technology at the school. Technology coordinators should keep in mind the last goal listed above. The most effective teaching does not have to involve technology. In fact, one could argue that an education provided through purely “high-tech” means would be no better, and possibly worse, than one provided with zero use of technology.
In order for staff relations to be effective where technological resources are concerned technology coordinators should:
- Create teams with teachers who will serve as models for technology use,"train- the-trainer” experts, and will generally act as technology peer leaders. Besides these three explicit roles, probably the most important reason for a faculty tech team is to create “buy-in” among teachers, and minimize the “us-versus-them” attitude that can subvert implementation of technology in a school. The structure of a “tech team” will vary from school to school, as determined by these factors:
- Extent of technology use at the school
- Ratio of computers to students
- As this ratio increases, so does the number of teachers required, as does the optimal number of levels of organization. At a school with a one-to one laptop program, for instance, a large, multi-level teacher tech team will likely be required. Each department might supply one (or more) “senior” team members, who mentor and supervise the “junior” members. The junior members will be more numerous, and will be the primary “work force” that can be put to use by the technology coordinator and technology staff.
- A model incorporating senior and junior members allows for more efficient management of a relatively large tech team. The technology coordinator can spend most planning time with the senior members, who, in turn, meet with their respective junior members to carry out the task at hand.
- Another advantage of a multi-level approach is that a peer-to-peer training structure is “built in.” The senior members can be expected to train the junior members. This can also lead to a natural rotation of tech team members. Junior members can be promoted to Senior members after a standard amount of time—or perhaps after meeting some minimum requirements. Senior members would then be relieved of their duties; or move on to an even more senior role, if the faculty tech team has a need for this.
- As this model matures at a school, the team can “grow” in both directions. Not only can senior faculty members be promoted to even more senior levels, but the team can grow at the “bottom” by adding students to the team. The student tech-team can serve as peer leaders for students, and as classroom assistants to teachers. Students will gain practical experience, and should be formally recognized by the school, with community service points if the school has this program, or, if incorporated into a class, with computer science credits. Students' presence on the tech team also serves to increase the school community's “buy-in” to the technological programs at the school.
- If the ratio of computers to students is low, then a lower percentage of the faculty is needed for the support team, of course. However, if the team is set up with a multi-level structure in mind, even this structure is not immediately implemented, then future expansion of the program won't require a complete restructuring.
- Ratio of computers to teachers
- Just as the tech team's optimal size is proportional to the computer to student ratio, it is also affected, albeit less so, by the extent of computer use among the faculty. A small team—perhaps a sub-portion of the tech team—should be designated as the mentors/trainers for new faculty for all schools. For schools with minimal technology use in the classrooms, this may be the entire extent of the tech team. Once again, though, even this “starter” tech team should be organized with the future in mind.
- Amount of “other” technology use at the school
- Projectors, interactive white boards, student response systems, and other technologies add to the burden on the technology coordinator, and can't be ignored when determining tech team responsibilities. A natural way to help spread the workload is to include in the tech team positions for peer experts in the use of each technology that the school has. Ideally, the library should be involved with managing the inventory of technology equipment for classroom use.
- Experience of faculty with respect to technology
- Little or no prior experience
- A faculty without any significant experience in applying technology in the classroom obviously presents a challenge to a technology coordinator. In an environment such as this, the ideal strategy is to introduce educational technology to a select group of teachers, and work intensely with them, slowly creating a core group of educational technology experts. These experts can then serve as the core of the tech team described above.
- While the optimal strategy may be to work slowly with small group of teachers in order to develop a strong tech team core that can be expanded, this is not always practical. However, even when there are time pressures and rigid requirements imposed from “above,” the technology coordinator will benefit from attempts to build this model into the education technology structure of the school. At worst, having a few teachers—even with no educational technology experience—to help organize and facilitate training, will not only ease the burden on the technology coordinator, but will, to some extent, start creating the “team” concept that will help to break down any “us versus them” attitudes.
- Experienced Faculty
- As the educational technology experience of the faculty increases, the tech team can grow and become or approach the multi-level team “ideal.”
- As the experience level of even the least-proficient faculty members reaches the point of competence, the structure of the tech team can remain the same, while the focus changes. Goals and action items for the tech team should change in the following ways:
- Reduced focus on basic training, more on investigating creative uses of technology
- Reduced focus on learning to use current technological “tools,” more on discovering new technologies
- Increased focus on solving problems that have impeded technology use in the classroom.
- The technology coordinator can become more of a “liaison” between the classroom and the world of technology, and less of a technology “tutor.”
- Little or no prior experience
- Workload of the Faculty
- In the real world of schools, finding the time to meet every requirement and also do a good job preparing for and teaching classes is a consistent issue. If the faculty believe that the technology coordinator is sensitive to this, there is more likely to be a better relationship between the teaching faculty and the technology staff.
- New projects and standards should be developed with the idea that, in the long run, they will lead to more efficient use of a teacher's time. This isn't always possible, but a new policy should only increase the long-term effort of the teacher if the pedagogical benefits out weigh the increased time requirement. If a new requirement will truly require more of a teacher's time without increasing the educational outcome for students, it should be one that leads to a smaller time requirement in another aspect of the teacher's job.
- It may seem counter-intuitive, but the higher the overall workload on the faculty, the larger the optimal tech team will be. A larger tech team means responsibilities can be more spread out. The structure of the tech team, in this case, will likely involve a smaller relative number of senior-level members, but a larger number of junior-level members, so the responsibilities of each junior member is reduced. Instead of working with their entire department grade level, a junior member of a team in this type of school may be responsible for working with just one other member of their department, for instance.
- At an extremely understaffed school, the technology coordinator will have to make some very difficult decisions. Maybe a tech team cannot be created, and the technology coordinator must fill all of the roles. This of course, means the breadth and depth of technology projects will be limited. A costly solution that may be available because of special technology funding for the district or school is to hire outside consultants to help with the technology coordinator's job. However, a less-costly solution is to involve parents on a volunteer basis. Often, there are technology experts in the family of school parents, who can provided knowledge and labor to school projects and initiatives.
- Ratio of computers to students
- Extent of technology use at the school
- Set aside time to discuss instructional needs
- Consideration of instructional needs should be the highest priority for the technology coordinator and the tech team at all times! In a general sense, “instructional needs” can be interpreted as the needs that support the primary purpose of the school, and so should be the top priority for any committee, team, or project at the school.
- More specifically, the technological instructional needs of the teachers—hardware, software, training, and support—should be the major focus of the tech team in at least three circumstances:
- At a technologically inexperienced school, or one with no history of faculty tech teams.
- Early in the school year, to address problems discovered only in the application of technology in the classrooms.
- Late in the school year, to plan for the next year's needs.
- Create time for staff to share new ideas and improvements in instruction
- “Best Practices” meetings should be held, where teaches can discuss and demonstrate techniques and tips for the best use of technology in the classroom, as well as help with avoiding troubles with technology.
- In order to use faculty time as efficiently as possible, the sharing of technological best practices doesn't have to be separated from discussions of best practices in general. If the school has a structure that allows for teachers to share ideas in a formal way already, the technology coordinator should work to include technology in the existing discussions.
- Sharing of best practices should be encouraged—even informally. The technology coordinator's job becomes more effective when there are many channels providing similar information. Teachers are aware that their students learn best when material is presented in more than one way. Teachers, when they learn, are students like anyone else!
- Request and act on feedback.
- In addition to sharing “best practices,” a technology coordinator should also ensure teachers share stories about problems they have had with technology.
- Sharing of negative stories can lead to peer-developed solutions, or, at least help determine where major problems exist. This will allow the technology coordinator to set his priorities for developing or discovering new educational technology, and, when the negative stories involve hardware or software problems, setting priorities for the “support” side of the job (or, even better, provide these priorities to the tech support staff!).-Teachers relating negative stories often provide for good “reeducation” opportunities. The feedback may be negative because of a misunderstanding on the teacher's part, or the solution may be a simple one. If this type of feedback is responded to immediately, the teachers involved will be more likely to remember the correct “answer.”
The structure detailed above will give staff the opportunity to design, prepare and evaluate instruction based on the technology resources that they have available and are required to use. Allow the teachers to demonstrate to their peers will reduce the training burden on the technology staff and lead to more creative use of technology in the classroom. The stated goals support a positive relationship with between teachers, the school's technological experts and the software/instruction itself, by increasing the sharing of ideas and information, and by fostering regular communication and ongoing dialogue between and among teaching faculty and the technology staff. If these objectives are implemented teachers will reach a level of trust and cooperation needed to work effectively with the technology staff. This, then, promotes a better understanding of faculty needs in the technology staff, who become more equipped to communicate with administrators who determine budgets and school- (or district-) wide priorities. It also leads to a better understanding of limitations and "why things are the way they are" on the part of the teachers. Teacher participation in decision-making has a positive correlation between increases in morale. This leads to more cooperation and effectiveness in the classroom.
Human Resource Management Issues
Being a Technology and Networking Coordinator in a K-12 school is not an easy job. Based on the website Technology Coordinator’s Handbook – A Website Dedicated to School-based Technology Professionals, “Technology coordinators are ultimately responsible for entire networks, hundreds of computers and printers, and a host of other assorted electronic devices. Besides keeping track of all the technology, a technology coordinator is also expected to conduct and maintain training and training schedules, attend technology meetings, help with grants and funding, introduce technology-integrated curriculum, fix and upgrade computers, install software, troubleshoot networks, etc., etc.” (School-based Technology Coordinator’s Home Page, http://schools.pinellas.k12.fl.us/tchandbk/default.htm)
Besides tackling the challenges from technology projects and network trouble-shooting, the Technology and Networking Coordinator must manage and maintain good relationships with a wide range of staff, namely the teachers, principals, and administrative staff in order to successfully implement his or her technology initiatives. Not only is the Technology and Network Coordinator required to be a change agent, he or she is also required to have the knowledge and the skill-set to influence the school staff to accept, adopt, and implement these technology changes. However, most of the time, the Technology and Networking Coordinator will run into several road blocks in his or her relationship with the staff. With the tremendous benefits and potential offered by technology, it might be puzzling for many Technology and Networking Coordinators to understand why do so many teachers and staff resist technology and even resist having a productive professional relationship with the Technology and Networking Coordinator.
This chapter will examine some of the challenges that a Technology and Networking Coordinator will face in his or her relationships with the teachers and staff, the causes for these strains in relationships, and suggestions to overcome these challenges.
Staff Relations Challenge #1: Technology Resistance
Understand your co-workers: There are numerous ways the school staff may view the school Technology and Networking Coordinator. Some teachers and staff welcome the introduction of technology into the classrooms and will view the Technology and Networking Coordinator as a resource and a go-to person for IT questions and issues. However, there are also some staff who are fearful of technology and will be resistant to the technology proposals and projects implemented by the Technology and Networking Coordinator. In the latter case, strains and challenges will occur in staff relations. To influence someone, it is important to first understand how the other person thinks. This section of the chapter will explore the potential mind sets of these staff.
Many of the teachers and staff who are fearful and resistant to technology are those who have been teaching and working for the school for many years, some of them might almost reach retirement. These staff did not grow up in the digital generation and are intimidated by the fast and ever-changing technological tools around them. One of the common complaints voiced about technology is, “I am so busy with teaching and my job that I just don’t have the time to learn to how to use this new technology.” This complaint is a common defense remark against change, they felt threatened by these new technologies because they have not learned much about them.
Many staff may even fear for their job security with an introduction of a new technology. There have been many observed cases when a new technology has been introduced to an organization or a company, the “old way” of doing things have been replaced. Those who have introduced the new technology have been viewed as indispensable by the organization, while those who have been doing things the “old way” have either lost their power in the organization or are being replaced by younger and newer staff. In Dr. Terrill’s book Technology on a Shoestring, he mentioned 2 types of resisters, the active resisters and the passive resisters, and the active resisters are the more difficult people to obtain support from. The active resisters are those who “don’t like change under any circumstances. Perhaps they are a few years from retirement and the last thing they want is to have their life turned upside down. Often they are in a position to protest with impunity. You may win them over to your camp, but consider yourself lucky if you can negotiate a deal with them that lets them change as little as possible in return for their support.” (Terrill, Page 122-123)
With a deeper understanding of the root of technology resistance and strains in staff relations, the Technology and Networking Coordinator should be in a better position to improve and effectively manage his or her relationships with the other staff.
Tackling Staff Relations Challenge #1
Once the Technology and Networking Coordinator has developed a better understanding of his or her co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses, as well as their fears and pressures, the Technology and Networking Coordinator will be in a better position to plan for ways to improve and manage a better relationship.
Align goals: One way to obtain support from the co-workers is to meet with them and show how their goals and the Technology Coordinator’s goals are aligned. For example, the Technology and Networking Coordinator can approach teachers who teach subjects in Business and show these teachers how important it is for students to obtain an education enriched with networking technology in order to be competitive in the job marketplace. The Technology and Networking Coordinator can also approach teachers who teach subjects in foreign language and show them network technology tools that can connect their students with students in a foreign country.
Respect your co-workers, be supportive, be a team-player: Some older staff who have not grown up during the digital and information age might feel very insecure when it comes to using technology. In addition, some co-workers might have a personality that is overly-sensitive, he or she may resent the reliance on others. They might resent the fact that they are always the less knowledgeable party when it comes to technology. When giving these staff networking and IT guidance and help, the Technology and Networking Coordinator should maintain their respect for these staff and their line of work, the Technology and Networking Coordinator should especially be careful to not correct the other’s IT mistakes in public. By showing respect to the staff, the Technology and Networking Coordinator is also adopting a non-threatening attitude that will help to ease the insecurity felt by those staff who fear for their job security. To interact with those co-workers who resents direction and help from others, the Technology and Networking Coordinator should use words such as “tips” and “suggestions” to show that he or she is not giving them orders or challenging their intelligence and knowledge in IT. To be supportive to his or her staff, the Technology and Networking Coordinator can establish a support group among the teachers and school staff as well as holding regular “open-door” office hours and welcome any co-workers who are seeking IT support. In a web posted job description of a Technology Coordinator, the following was stated for the school’s expectation of its Technology Coordinator: (Website: Technology Coordinator, http://www.k12.hi.us/~wilcox/techcoor.html)
The ideal school Technology coordinator would:
- ensure that teacher in-service training is ongoing in the school
- organize and be responsible for the continued development of Technology Cadres (consisting of teachers and students) in the school.
- be responsible for training and utilizing a technology cadre consisting of teachers and students to help assist in training, trouble shooting and installations of hardware and software.
- participate in the continued development, with the administration and faculty, spectrum of skills for students to be able to attain, with benchmarks and timeframes, from K through 6.
- work cooperatively and productively with the school administration and faculty. "People" skills are needed because everyone works at different levels when they are being trained on "how to" use technology.
- help establish support groups for new technology based programs introduced by the school administration.
Keep the knowledge and information flowing: To help his or her co-workers to overcome their fear of technology, the Technology and Networking Coordinator should take the initiative to offer training sessions in Technology and Networking to help the staff learn more about the advantages offered by technology. The more familiar the staff become with the various forms of technology, the less likely they will display outward resistance to the adoption of new technology in the classroom. Based on the website Technology Coordinator’s Handbook – A Website Dedicated to School-based Technology Professionals, an effective Technology Coordinator should work with the human resources department “to survey the staff with needs assessment tools to ensure that all training opportunities are aligned to the goals of the various plans in place such as Technology Plan, School Improvement Plan and National Standards for teachers and administrators.” (School-based Technology Coordinator’s Home Page, http://schools.pinellas.k12.fl.us/tchandbk/default.htm)
Staff Relations Challenge #2: Coping with too many IT help requests from fellow staff
When the school adopts a new technology or installs a new network, it would be natural for the first few weeks or months to be hectic and filled with database or network problems. Naturally, the Technology and Networking coordinator might feel overwhelmed with the overwhelming requests for IT help from his or her co-workers.
Tackling Staff Relations Challenge #2
It is natural for the Technology and Networking Coordinator to feel frustrated and overworked when he or she is being called on constantly by his or her co-workers for help in addition to fulfilling the regular job duties and the IT projects. The Technology and Networking Coordinator can try the following guidelines in resolving this challenge:
Open communication: When the Technology and Networking Coordinator is being pulled by teacher A and teacher B at the same time to help them with their problems, the Technology and Networking Coordinator can get them together either in person or by the phone and explain to them that the Technology and Networking Coordinator would be more than happy to help them both, however, there is a time conflict and the Technology and Networking Coordinator can’t visit 2 classrooms at the same time. Then ask the 2 teachers to see if they can come to some sort of agreement on whose IT problem should be resolved first. It is possible that the 2 teachers might get into some sort of disagreement on whose problem should receive priority. Openly discuss both of these teachers’ problems over the phone and encourage all to focus on the problems instead of fighting with each other.
Staff Relations Challenge #3: The principal and the school administration is not enthusiastic about your technology initiatives
In other words, the principal and the other school administrators are not supporting the Technology and Networking Coordinator’s technology proposals. Principals should be the key leaders in technology integration efforts, it is crucial for the Technology and Networking Coordinator to obtain the support from the principal. The principal needs to be aware of the benefits offered by technology tools in order to effectively lead the integration of technology into the classroom. However, due to the principals’ busy schedules, they often do not have the time to be trained in technology in order to know first hand the benefits offered by technology.
Tackling Staff Relations Challenge #3
Take the initiative to set up meetings with the principal and the management team at the school. In these meetings, the Technology and Networking Coordinator should show that he or she identifies with the principal’s strategic goals for the school, then show how the technology plans can help the school to reach those goals. For example, if one of the strategic goals for the school is to aspire to become a “learning organization”, the Technology and Networking Coordinator can demonstrate how technology can help the teachers and the other staff to become a learning organization through continuous learning, empowerment by IT, and the creation and distribution of information. (Wilson, Page 100-102)
If one of the goals for the school is to improve its curriculum, the Technology and Networking Coordinator can demonstrate to the principal and the school management board how today’s high-speed network can revolutionize knowledge gathering for the new curriculum. With a better network infrastructure, teachers and students can have access to information that can give them insights and knowledge in every academic subject.
If one of the goals for the school is to increase access to more courses for its students, the Technology and Networking Coordinator can demonstrate how the IT network and technology can bring customized knowledge to the students through distance learning. With distance learning, the school’s students will no longer need to go to a certain location at a certain time to take a course or obtain training in a certain subject, they can remotely access various courses and tailor their class schedules that would respond to each of their learning needs.
Closing remarks and suggestions for further reading
The Technology Coordinators’ jobs are getting harder with new technology innovations and the expectations from school leaderships that the Technology Coordinators are expected to introduce new technologies into the classrooms, manage change, and provide technical leadership and support to his or her co-workers who in turn, might misdirect their fears of innovation and frustrations from the change process towards the Technology Coordinators. In order to be successful at their jobs, the Technology Coordinators should not only possess sound technical knowledge about networking and other technological tools, but they should also become well-versed in interpersonal skills in order to effectively introduce and manage change. This Chapter has reviewed some causes for staff relationship strains in the professional lives of the Technology Coordinators as well as given some suggestions on how to address these challenges.
Following are two external resources that can serve as guides and additional readings for Technology and Networking Coordinators:
1) Book title: The Technology Coordinator’s Handbook, 1st edition Authors: Max Frazier and Gerald D. Bailey Publisher: International Society for Technology in Education Link to Amazon where the book can be purchased: http://www.amazon.com/Technology-Coordinators-Handbook-Max-Frazier/dp/1564842118 Book Description: The technology coordinator's job is in flux. Statewide certification programs are slowly being developed, but there's little general consensus on what this position should entail. Tech coordinators may handle a wide variety of complex tasks-from instructional support to network management to technology budgeting and planning-and need a comprehensive guide. This handbook provides precisely that: a detailed introduction to the roles and functions performed by tech coordinators, the key issues they face, and the basic skills and qualifications needed to fulfill their responsibilities. Written for both working tech coordinators and those preparing to enter the profession, this essential reference has been field-tested and validated to provide leaders with the information and resources they need to effectively manage school and district technology operations.
2) Article: A Technology Coordinator’s Bookmarks Author: Tim Landeck Website at where the article can be obtained: www.thesnorkel.org/toolkit/articles/TechCoord_Bkmrks.pdf Article Description: This article offers many useful links for the Technology Coordinator for Networking, Technical Support, Professional Development, and Purchasing. The section on Professional Development listed many useful websites to obtain professional development and information on the latest change in the field of educational technology.
What did your Learn?
See below for Answer Key
Question and Answer
1-Are research projects part of the Technology Coordinators job?
2-What did Barth state about a "good" school?
3-Name 2 things a school should do to improve staff relations where technological resources are concerned?
4-What should technology coordinators do monthly to inform teachers of changes?
5-What 3 primary factors should be considered when determining an ideal faculty tech team size?
6-What times of the year are appropriate for assessing the overall technological instructional needs of the faculty?
7-A technology coordinator must maintain open communication with two primary groups in the school. What are the two groups?
8-A school has run a multi-level tech team for a few years. Most teachers have at least a basic understanding of educational technology. You, as the technology coordinator, want to take advantage of the increasing skill of the faculty, but still need help with low-level technical issues. What group of people in the community would you consider adding to the tech team?
1- A technology coordinator must be a teacher
2-A technology coordinator must have knowledge in the field of computer science.
3-Software evaluation is part of a technology coordinators job.
4-Informal “best-practice” discussions should be encouraged among faculty.
5-Negative feedback is never helpful.
6- The primary goal of a technology coordinator is to have teachers use only the newest technology in the classroom..
7- Not all of the best classroom techniques involve the use of technology.
8- Teacher “buy-in” makes it easier to integrate technology into the classroom.
Question and Answers
2-Barth stated that a good school is a place in which everyone is teaching and everyone is learing simultaneously under that same roof.
3- a-Create support teams with teachers that will serves as "train- the-trainer” teams
b-Set aside time to discuss instructional needs
c-Create time for staff to share new ideas and improvements in instruction
d-Request and act on feedback
e-Give staff the opportunity to design, prepare and evaluate instruction based on the technology resources that they are required to use. Allow the teachers to demonstrate to their peers
4-Organize monthly meetings with teachers for the purposes of informing teachers about upcoming or future changes to software or technical resources, changes to procedures and practices
5- a- Extent of technology use at the school
b- The technological experience of the faculty
c-The workload of the faculty
6- Early in the school year, to deal with newfound problems, and late in the school year, to plan for next year.
7-Faculty and Administration
A good source of ideas and resources for technology coordinators. (From the Pinellas County, FL school district)
 Educational Technology Links (Maintained by the North Central Regional Educational Library of Illinois)
 An Instructional Designer's Website
U.S. Department of Education Site
Career Builders Site
BNET.com (source of Teacher Participation in decision making..its relationship to staff morale and student achievement-Jones,Randal E)
 Access for New Hires in Healthcare Organizations (Video)
Dewey, J. (2001). The school and lover society & The child and curriculum. Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc.
Keengwe, J., Onchwari, G., & Wachira, P. (2008). The use of computer tools to support meaningful learning. AACE Journal, 16(1), 77-92.
Mackenty, B “blog”
“School-based Technology Coordinator’s Home Page”. Technology Coordinator’s Handbook – A Website Dedicated to School-based Technology Professionals. Retrieved July 15th, 2009 from <http://schools.pinellas.k12.fl.us/tchandbk/default.htm>
“Technology Coordinator”. Job Description: Technology Coordinator. Retrieved July 15th, 2009 from <http://www.k12.hi.us/~wilcox/techcoor.html>
Terrill, T.B. (2006). Technology on a Shoestring – A Survival Guide for Educators and Other Professionals. New York, NY: Teachers College Press
Wilson, J.P. (2008). Human Resource Development. Philadelphia, PA: Kogan Page Limited