The Wifi is Out…Now What? How Tech Support is Adversely Affecting Education

 

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By:  Rachel Redman

It’s a familiar pattern:  I’m on Twitter reading posts about amazing technology use in schools and find a really cool app that I would love to try with my class.  I rush to school the next day excited to try and implement this plan I have created, only to discover that we don’t have the app on the school iPads and I have no way to get it there.  There goes the plan, and I am back to square one with pressure and desire to implement technology but no practical way to make it happen.

Where is the Plan?

“Ultimately, successful school-wide change will not occur without strong resources and support from a variety of sources” (Center for Implementing Technology in Education, n.d.)

In the Peel District School Board alone, there are more than 240 schools that serve 150, 000 kindergarten through grade 12 students.  Peel’s Learning Technology Support Services web page gives a listing of 162 people available to contact for tech support, many of whom have specific specialities such as Sharepoint or Electronic Messaging.  With Peel’s BYOD policy firmly in place, one can only imagine the number of issues related to technology has increased substantially since the implementation of the program in 2013.  Yet with so few people available to provide support, often issues can go days without being rectified.

Peel also employs 8 Instructional Technology Resource Teachers (ITRT), 4 elementary teachers and 4 secondary teachers, who are responsible for approximately 50 schools in the board.  They usually also work within several different super-intendancies.  Their job can be anything and everything to do with technology implementation in schools, including providing coaching for teachers, running staff workshops, and making school-wide plans.  However, again looking at the numbers, with 50 schools on one ITRT’s workload, there is no way regular, adequate support for every school.

We Have Needs

“Teachers need to know they have help when technology fails, that they have resources when they are unsure how to use a tool, and that they can get recommendations about technology usage in the classroom” (Center for Implementing Technology in Education, n.d.).

It is one thing to provide the technology, but if teachers do not have support, the technology will not be used to its full potential.  However, if boards do not set their schools up for success in this area, they will end up with frustrated teachers and support workers.  It is not enough to say that schools are using technology, they actually need to be able to use it effectively.

If the aim of the board is to convince teachers, parents and students that technology integration will benefit education, avoiding frustration would be the first order of the day.  Introducing a technology tool or device and then leaving a staff to figure it out will not lead to success.  Teachers have a lot on their plates already and, especially for teachers who are not comfortable with technology, it can be difficult to search and find technology tools that best suit the needs of a particular classroom or project.

Change Comes From the Top

“Adding a digital device to the classroom without a fundamental change in the culture of teaching and learning will not lead to significant improvement” (November, 2013).

It is not enough for boards to create policy and walk away, the implementation of these policies needs to be framed from the top.  This means the board needs to look at how to enact digital technology policies in the most successful way possible.  This could include things like providing each school with a technology leader for support, providing the board with more technology specialists who are available to fix issues within a certain reasonable time frame, or providing increased professional development for teachers and administrators in the use of digital technology.  Technology in schools is not going away, nor is it going to stop growing and changing, and so the board needs to develop a manageable plan that will see us into the future.

Education, C. f. (n.d.). Technology implementation in schools – key factors to consider. CITEd Research Center:

November, A. (2013, February 10). Why schools must move beyond one-to-one computing. Retrieved from November Learning: http://novemberlearning.com/educational-resources-for-educators/teaching-and-learning-articles/why-schools-must-move-beyond-one-to-one-computing/

Resources

Creating a New Culture of Teaching and Learning

Lessons Learned for Effective Technology Implementation

Implementing and Scaling Up Technology

 

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Author: rachelredman1979

Rachel Redman is an elementary school teacher with the Peel District School Board. She has taught grades 2, 3 and 4 over her 13-year​ career. Rachel also has obtained her Reading Specialist, and is currently working towards her Masters of Education at UOIT.

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