As school technology systems get more complex, schools must further professionalize their technical support departments. No longer can schools rely on members of their academic departments who have an interest in technology to perform major system upgrades, maintenance, and troubleshooting. Anecdotal evidence shows a rising level of burnout on the part of those educators who have added the informal title of “computer expert” to their list of responsibilities within schools.
Unfortunately, schools have a long way to go. As a point of comparison, large companies strive to have at least one professional computer support person for every 50 computers (laptops or PCs) in use. Few, if any, schools enjoy a ratio this low. With the many other demands for hiring in most school systems, it’s no surprise that administrators cannot focus on improving tech support departmentsespecially if this would come at the expense of hiring teachers to provide additional educational options or reduce class sizes.
Nevertheless, for technology to reach its potential in K-12 education, technology expertsnot just technophilesmust be intimately involved in using a school’s precious technology dollars to match the school’s mission and serve its unique student body.
Achieving these goals starts with a firm commitment to quality in technical staff. This can be achieved in four ways, according to the author:
1. Administrators should recognize that technology experts must be able to focus on their roles full-time.
2. These individuals must have an understanding of the educational process, as well as computer technology.
3. Schools and districts must budget realistically not only to purchase technology, but also to maintain and upgrade it on a regular basis so that it can be used by students and teachers.
4. Tech staff must be committed to making themselves key members of the school’s planning process, not just crisis managers who keep the machines running.