In many school districts the technology team spends much more time repairing equipment or answering software questions from faculty rather than planning new projects or helping teachers incorporate technology into their instruction.
In addition, according to a recent survey, IT staffing shortages continue to afflict schools keeping many of them from realizing the full potential of classroom technology as a learning tool. The survey indicated that less than one third of the respondents work in districts where adequate IT staff is present to meet their needs. On top of that, slightly more than half of those who responded indicated they spend more than half their time addressing help desk issues instead of working on long-range planning and projects. The survey suggests that the burdens placed on school technology teams are limiting innovation rather than fostering it.
Topping the list of specific IT positions the respondents said were lacking in the schools was instructional technologist, an indication that teachers are not getting the help they need to use classroom technology to improve their instruction.
Most school leaders cite funding as the number one challenge facing their technology departments and one source of their staffing problems as well. Even districts who have received grants for equipment have problems going forward. Once district received a $600,000 for laptops but is now faced with replacement and upgrade costs to the district when the grant money is gone.
Rapid Technological Advances
Another key challenge to school IT departments is the rapid pace at which new or upgraded forms of technology are emerging. For example, bandwidth needs have increased tremendously in recent years, driven by the rise of video applications, and are placing a huge burden on school network infrastructures.
The Impact of Data
One technology department staff member reports that they support over twenty disparate data systems that directly support classroom technology. The time spent supporting databases is now equal to time spent on desktop support.
Without the help they need from the experts in the IT department to help them integrate computer technology into their lesson plans, teachers are challenged to find classroom technology that does not require IT support. In this computer-centric, visually-oriented age, we often forget about our tried-and-true technologies, such as educational DVDs and video, that work reliably a majority of the time, even when other technologies fail.
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