OMG! Those IT staff!

I do hope you work in an organisation with friendly, relaxed IT support staff. I hope they speak to you as a normal human being and only focus their efforts on creating an environment that fulfills the organisation’s primary concerns. In regards to schools, we need to access and share information and learn about the world we live in, within a flexible 21st Century leaning pedagogy.

…hum… Why are so many people reading this thinking “not my school”…?

Teachers around the world are discussing updating the teaching model to match the rapidly changing world we live in. The tech-staff simply need to do the same (and yes, it’s a global problem).

Young people and increasingly all generations are developing new expectations:

  1. They will have access to their online world 24/7 as much as their real world.
  2. That social media sites like Facebook are an integral part of life and used by many universities and schools for communications.
  3. Personal ownership and control of the device is the default model. Schools are dismantling their computer labs and in one form or another adopting BYOD (bring your own device)
  4. If the iPad is managed personally by so many grandmas in the world, why would a younger professional or student in 2012 require a secondary support system in Tech-services.
  5. The apps on the iPad are all built to connect directly to a number of standard online services such as Youtube, Dropbox, Google Docs, Twitter and Facebook. It is time consuming, more complicated and costly these days for schools to employ numerous people to maintain parallel systems and then spend extra cost working out how to connect the mobile devices to these bespoke school-maintained systems.
  6. New 21st Century teaching pedagogy calls for a wider variety of options and flexible learning environments and this is at odds with the older tech-model of tightly controlling a limited number of possibilities within the system.

During the 90’s, schools launched into serious adoption of ICTs with a very limited knowledge base. This created a generation of school technicians, who, having an amount of knowledge, relevant or not, easily built up a power base for themselves within the school. This power over others is a model they are reluctant to relinquish. Their manner of ICT support stems from the 70s & 80s where IBM and then Microsoft developed the approach of “We are the experts and computers will be what we say they will be”. They survive in many schools due to leadership teams not having the knowledge themselves to argue against the many out-dated structures these “old-school” techies suggest, that of course would maintain their power and requirement.

The new paradigm of personal / consumer controlled ICT is understood by your technicians at a technical level and most will be using the same online systems themselves. But the realisation that this new paradigm removes the need for most (not all) school technicians is uncomfortable for people who are used to wielding so much power.

My mother is 59, retired and likes taking photos of her grandchildren and writing poetry. She:

  1. writes a blog like this one (She’d love more readers! Click here);
  2. edits photos & movies, storing them in private online accounts;
  3. uses both iCloud and Dropbox for backup and sharing files;
  4. produces presentations for writing club;
  5. emails using Gmail with Google docs.

She does all this without a technician and says she’s “clueless about IT.” The world is changing fast and if school leaders don’t get to my mother’s level of expertise soon, we’re all in trouble!

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