It’s an age old stereotype in most school districts that the Tech Director’s main job is to “lock it and block it.” And sadly, that stereotype exists for a reason; many school districts hire former IT professionals that are used to working in environments where the end user devices have been specifically tailored and locked down so that employees are as efficient and productive as possible. No need to be distracted with games if you can’t install them. No need to worry about viruses if employees have limited admin control over what devices they can attach to their laptops, or what networks they can connect with.
That was the case in our district as well, until about 8 years ago; work stations were locked down, the internet was slow and strictly filtered. However, over the course of nearly a decade, my Tech Director has made incredible strides in making technology more approachable and personal; teachers have their own laptops that they have full admin rights to. Social media sites are mostly unblocked for staff, with some sharing sites open for students as well (where appropriate). We’re on our way to a relatively “happy” school district when it comes to technology, so it was interesting to chat with my Tech Director for this week’s Tech Director Chat. Not only may you find Pete’s answers atypical for a Tech Director, but you’ll find that the conversation lends itself to some larger discussions of the need for balance between control and unfettered access.
We have a record number of questions this week; seven! I know, I know, that seems pretty low, but for a podcast that one day hopes to be under 20 minutes, that’s a lot to cram into one episode! We also had some great questions from Twitter! Thanks to Sherri, Rob, and MASSP for asking some tough questions that I’m sure aren’t always the same in every school district.
Below is the 5th installment of Tech Director Chat, and if you find yourself enjoying, please consider leaving a comment on iTunes.
Timestamps for this week’s questions:
:49 What has Pete been up to?
1:15 Why did Pete’s day go sideways?
2:30 Seven questions is a lot for us?
3:02 Why do the printers keep breaking down, and can we remedy the situation?
7:38 Are we any closer on the Apple TV situation?
8:51 Why can’t we move an interactive whiteboard out of a special education classroom into a regular education classroom?
10:40 Are we going to run out of time on this episode?
11:04 Why am I trusted with people’s most prized posession, but not the technology and the internet?
14:24 Why do you always approach a request from a place of “no” rather than a place of “yes”?
17:20 Would you say that a Tech Director from the IT world might be apprehensive to opening up technology to help solve problems creatively?
19:02 Why do teachers often get so little input in the technology purchasing decisions?
22:56 We’ve gone hopelessly past the 20 minute mark.
23:04 What does a Tech Director do for fun and to decompress?