Why schools need a knowledge base

How to give students, parents, teachers, and administrators access to district information

When I have a problem with my iPad, I look to Google. Google is my worldwide knowledge base for fixing my toilet, unsticking my iPad, and figuring out the origin of that clunk sound my car started making. For every technology and almost every mechanical thing in my life, I can go to a website or run a general Google search to figure out how to fix it—or at least diagnose the problem.

Everything, that is, except how to get onto the wi-fi in my school district.

Technology is delightful and enriching. It connects students across the globe and invites them to explore the wonders of the world. But the ugly truth is that behind all this technology is a frantic, very overwhelmed IT team without the platform to manage the thousands of transactions asked of it each day. These IT people fully understand and support the promise of technology in teaching probably more than anyone. But when it comes to managing 75,000 K-12 students with brand new school-issued iPads or their own devices, there is often no knowledge base or even an adequate tech-support system in place to adequately assist them.

We’ve seen a mind-boggling assortment of school and district IT department configurations with specialized support teams operating in silos, each using different management protocols—and that assumes any protocol actually exists. Administrative functions, curriculum, libraries, media services, facilities, and security operate as completely separate IT departments. And, when the departments do work collaboratively, the roles, responsibilities, and dependencies are so intertwined it is difficult to see the beginning and the end of any single workflow.

(Next page: The importance of a knowledge base)

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