Saturday, June 5, 2010

Technology Directors In or Out?

Education Needs Geeks according to Don Watkins, guest blogger on Dangerously Irrelevant. The thing is education needs the right geeks. Here is a quote from his eloquent post:
“A technology director ought to be a bit of a rebel, a diplomat, and a life long learner. Today's technology directors have to work together with curriculum directors and technology integrators to make sure that today's students are really being prepared for the twenty-first century. Today's technology directors must be agents of change, they have to envelope pushers but at the same time they have to work with other professionals who can shape curriculum. No one can do everything and certainly not everything well without help.”

Mr. Watkins is inspiring if you aspire to be a technology director. He writes about his evolution from a guy with no experience and a liberal arts degree into a maverick who challenges the system and programs with Linux. I'm pretty sure that most of us in the Instructional Technology master's program aren't destined to start working in Linux, but it probably would be a good idea for us to learn more about open source. In our textbooks, the authors talk about customization and open source providing more opportunities for learning.

But I digress, Watkins' post is actually a response to another post by Doug Green Should We Get Rid of Technology Directors? Green points out that "top down decisions are less likely to enjoy successful adoption in education than in other organizations." If teachers implement technology or work with their peers, though, they feel in control and have ownership. "When a technology innovation comes to the classroom by way of the technology director it is likely to focus on the technology. When it arrives as the result of initiatives owned by the teachers, it is more likely to focus on the content. "
Green proposes that technology directors phase themselves out into administrative positions or back into the classroom. Instead, we should have teams at the building level who make decisions about instructional technology. Empowering teachers, administrators, and even students to implement instructional technology decisions means they're more likely to work.

So, which is it? Do we need Linux using geeks to show us how it's done? Or do we need to step up to the plate and nudge our co-workers up with us? I don't know. Like many other choices, it's probably a little bit of both.


  1. I think schools NEED a tech director, but they need to see that person as a teacher, not an administrator. Teachers have full time jobs--they teach all day long and correct and write lessons all night. They do not have the time nor the capacity to develop technology on top of their full time work. Teachers only resent top-down management when ideas are "crammed" at them (to borrow a phrase from our text). Thus, I believe we really need to have technology integration teachers to work with staff to build strong classrooms. Good post to get people thinking about this!!

  2. I have to agree with CathyO about the tech director. We need someone to sit at the district decision-making table to guide technology in the district.

    Geeky Tech Directors are ok, but an effective director needs to know how to direct. S/he needs to envision where the district should go (with the help of the tech committee) and make it so. This requires the assistance of a group of techees, educators, consultants and kids.