The Northeast Regional Technology in Education Consortium (NetTech: http://www.nettech.org/tc/) has created the Educational Technology Coordinator web site to try to assist schools in making sense of the profusion of technology resources available today. The site is a valuable resource for a wide variety of professionals in the K-12 fieldteachers, library/media specialists, school administrators, networking personnel, software evaluators, countywide technology coordinators, curriculum designers, and county superintendents.
Planning for this site began in May 1998, and it took more than a year for the 15 people involved in its development to work through the many issues that network administrators face. Now operational, though still evolving, the site addresses matters related to hardware, software, and technology integration for both the classroom and administrative offices. The site may support state standards guidelines by offering online lesson plans in the future.
With only about 30 percent of the schools in the Northeast Consortium having full-time technology coordinators, the author says that one of the most important audiences for the web site will be the people who have been assigned the network administrator task without full training or time to learn its intricacies. For this reason, the web site is focused on the day-to-day responsibilities that these people face: professional development, curriculum integration, technical issues, and technology in context.
Making the site especially valuable are assessments on the strengths and weaknesses of various technologies. Even the links on the site are annotated with comments by actual users and network administrators, so that users can quickly discern if a particular technology may be valuable for them. “The world doesn’t need yet another clearinghouse,” says the author. “Most people have a very limited amount of time to search for relevant information. NetTech seeks to reduce the time between problem and solution tremendously.”
And while great care has gone into the initial creation of the site, the developers are committed to revising it as technology advances and needs change. A discussion group format on the site will create a community of users who are encouraged to offer comments and suggestions that reflect their experiences with technology.