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Why technology must be invisible during ed tech roll outs

By Bridget McCrea
January 21st, 2015

One district leader shares his philosophy for invisible tech roll outs that focus on goals, not tools

invisible-techWhen it comes to classroom and infrastructure technology implementations, it’s the equipment, software, and apps that usually take center stage. Rob Dickson thinks he’s found a better way to approach K-12 technology implementations, and in his mind the tech itself is not the focal point. In fact, Dickson, the executive director of information management systems (IMS) at Omaha Public Schools, thinks the equipment and tools being installed and put to work should be “invisible.”

“Implementing a project should begin with a vision,” writes Dickson, in a post for SmartBlog on Education. “Technology shouldn’t be the main focus but a vein running through a strategic plan touching every objective and outcome, providing the highway to efficiencies and collaboration. Every district is different across the country, with different views, demographics, policies and procedures.”

Dickson, who has been in his current position for six months, bases his philosophy on the fact that technology should be viewed as a utility that’s provided by the district, rather than a key driver or central focus, during implementation. “Just like gas, water, or electricity, the technology is the utility or the service that’s being provided,” says Dickson, who developed the idea during a recent cloud-based Office 365 implementation, “we shouldn’t be focused on the technology itself, but on the actual learning and benefits that students and teachers get from it.”

This doesn’t always happen in K-12 environments where teachers, administrators, and IT directors are focused on adopting ebooks or rolling out iPad implementations. In these scenarios, the technology tools and applications behind those rollouts become the central focus for everyone involved. “The actual learning that will be enabled by the technology takes a backseat,” says Dickson, “and the question of, ‘How can we provide the best learning environment for our students?’ isn’t always answered by technology, to be honest.”

(Next page: How the SAMR model can help)