Why we need to start paying more attention to IT support in schools

IT support

IT support

When things don’t go to plan with technology in the classroom, educators need to know they can rely on someone to help them out. They also need to be confident that their technology environment won’t suddenly change unexpectedly – that things that worked last lesson will suddenly be blocked or broken today.

These two things are a key part of helping all educators (not just innovators and early adopters) experiment with technology. Knowing that someone has ‘got your back’ makes a big difference in people’s willingness to try new things. So does knowing that the technology is unlikely to let you down in front of a class of students.

Having a customer-focussed, well-resourced and supportive IT department is the keystone to creating this type of confidence. Yet, too often, IT support in schools is seen as a necessary evil which takes up funding that could be better spent on more important areas. Hence, it’s treated as low priority and funded and staffed as minimally as possible. All the while being expected to provide and support a technology environment with needs that rival that of many medium-to-large businesses.

Some schools have to share IT support staff, meaning they have on-site support only a couple of days a week. Hiring IT staff is also where a lot of schools go wrong. Support staff tend to be selected based on their technical expertise, not their customer service abilities. The end result is technically-focussed IT staff with a backlog of work and little time or desire to engage with, reassure and support the educators who need it most.

[bctt tweet=”Your IT department is the keystone to giving educators the confidence to experiment with technology” username=”samvardanega”]
Many schools now appoint teachers to eLearning roles in an effort to provide pedagogical-focussed guidance and support for technology integration. However, if these teachers also maintain a significant teaching load, they too are spread very thin and will struggle to help everyone. Invariably this means some of their colleagues who need the most support (it’s often those that don’t ask) will be left behind. As such, these eLearning roles cannot and should not be seen as a replacement for decent IT support.

So, what can be done to overhaul IT support to better support educators and administrators in our schools? Here are my four key improvements:

Hire the right mix of IT staff

The best IT departments have a mix of very technically capable people (eg. network administrators) and technically-savvy customer-focussed people with high levels of initiative. The former keep everything running smoothly behind-the-scenes. The latter provide the helpful and friendly person-to-person support that educators sorely need.

These customer-centric staff are the ones answering the phones, responding to support requests and dashing into classroom to help educators solve problems. They listen, understand and work with teachers and administrators to restore their confidence when things go wrong. These are the people who’ve got your back. They also work closely with eLearning staff to understand and anticipate the school’s needs and help plan new initiatives.

The key to hiring the right person for a customer-facing IT role is finding someone that is both technically capable and has excellent interpersonal skills. They don’t need to be able to rebuild a server, but they do need to be great troubleshooters and problem solvers. Technical skills are relatively easy to learn, it’s much harder to develop people’s customer service abilities.

Provide IT staff with professional development opportunities

Give your IT support the opportunity to engage with the world of education technology and integration. Let them see what’s out there and how educators are using it. Just because they’re not educators themselves, it doesn’t mean they won’t benefit from attending PD about education technology.

Getting IT staff and educators on the same page is very worthwhile. Too often, educators complain that they attend education technology conferences and get great ideas, but can’t implement them because ‘IT won’t let me/don’t get it/block it/ban it’ etc.

So let’s get IT staff attending the same conferences to see and hear the impact these tools can have on teaching and learning. Let’s give them opportunities to network with their colleagues at other schools to share ideas and discuss overcoming challenges. This will also give them the knowledge and skills they need to effectively support their educator colleagues in trying new things.

At the very least, your customer-facing IT staff should be given these opportunities. If they don’t exist, or don’t have much influence on decision-making, send your technical staff along too.

[bctt tweet=”Why your IT staff should be attending EdTech conferences too” username=”samvardanega”]

Establish consistent communication channels

Communication channels between educators/administrators and the IT department need to be consistent and reliable.

Put simply, if your school does not have an effective system for reporting and tracking IT requests, then it should. Educators and administrators need to be confident that when they request something to be done, someone will record their request and let them know how it’s progressing. Otherwise things may not get fixed or fulfilled in a timely manner (if at all), subsequently eroding confidence in the IT environment and staff. When confidence is low, the majority of people will be more reluctant to take risks with technology.

There also needs to be a clear process for how IT support communicate planned and unplanned outages, disruptions and problems. If the wireless network goes down, let people know as soon as possible (and NOT by email!). If the Department or District makes a change to website filters, let people know. If a school system is getting a new look courtesy of an upgrade – let people know! I think a good rule of thumb is that if someone has to ask for an update, you have been too slow to communicate.

Keeping surprises to a minimum and acting proactively when something unexpected happens gives everyone in the school confidence that their IT services and facilities won’t let them down. And, you guessed it, this means they’ll be more likely to feel comfortable incorporating technology into their classrooms.

Create a culture of respect between IT and educators

It’s a sad reality that educators and IT support staff can have a negative relationship. Educators can see their IT department as unresponsive, unhelpful, difficult to deal with and sometimes even intimidating or condescending. IT staff can view the majority of educators (and administrators) as demanding, unappreciative people who don’t know what they’re doing and then blame IT when things go wrong. The innovators and early adopters might be seen as self-righteous know-it-alls who make life difficult by pushing the boundaries.

Yes, I’m painting a worst-case picture with the above, but these attitudes and stereotypes do exist and probably more frequently than we’d like to admit. They do nothing to help the technology integration efforts of educators or the job satisfaction of IT staff.

If educators feel they will be admonished every time they have a problem, they’ll eventually stop calling IT and give up trying to use new technologies. If IT support staff feel like second-class citizens who bear the brunt of educator’s frustration, they’ll avoid helping them to solve problems. It’s a lose-lose situation for everyone.

[bctt tweet=” An effective school IT department needs the right mix of staff, PD, communication channels & respect” username=”samvardanega”]

Instead, educational institutions need to foster a culture of mutual respect between the IT department and the rest of the staff. Implementing the three other improvements I have stated above is a great start to this journey.

The more IT support staff communicate with educators, understand their needs and offer timely assistance when things go wrong, the more respect they’ll earn. Similarly, the more educators treat IT staff like valued colleagues, the more assistance and willingness they’ll get in return.

I truly believe that when schools pay due attention to their IT departments and staff, it can make a big difference to the success of their technology integration efforts. Ensuring all staff have ongoing, helpful and timely support will increase their confidence and make them more likely to experiment with the technologies available to them.

Want help bridging the gap between your IT team, school teachers and leaders? Check out the eReadyTM  Certified Schools program

I know there are some schools and universities out there doing a great job of their IT support. I’d love to hear your stories of success and lessons learnt.


Related Post

Great Ways to Use Nearpod at the Start of the Year

Nearpod Orientation  A great starting point for Nearpod in the classroom is to allow students to get hands on with the tool. This can be done as a whole class session or independently. I recommend this lesson being completed live in the whole class or within small group sessions. There are many pre-made orientation lessons

VIEW POST

Popular Post

Great Ways to Use Nearpod at the Start of the Year

Nearpod Orientation  A great starting point for Nearpod in the classroom is to allow students to get hands on with the tool. This can be done as a whole class session or independently. I recommend this lesson being completed live in the whole class or within small group sessions. There are many pre-made orientation lessons

VIEW POST

Setting up your Microsoft Class Teams for 2023

4 steps to getting your 2023 Class Team set up in the blink of an eye The end of the school year is looming and you are keenly aware that you don’t want to spend your summer holidays setting up for the new school year. We’ve all been there so follow these 4 steps to

VIEW POST

ChatGPT is Freaking Me Out: Teacher Edition

ChatGPT is one of the biggest technology revelations we have seen in recent times, and we are all wondering how this will impact us. From students and school teachers to businesses and writers, everyone is finding a good use for ChatGPT. Our UTB team love new and exciting tech, and we are using ChatGPT in

VIEW POST

Here’s What
Our Clients Say

How well do you use the
Apple Apps Google Workspace Microsoft 365
tools in your workplace?

Find out if you’re working with the tools OR if you’ve got the
tools working for you.

Download your skills checklist to see how you score...

Country:

Choose Industry:

Which Skills Checklist?

 

Nice Move Allstar!
You're about to get
awesome value in your
inbox that's going to make
life that little bit easier & sweeter!

 

Are you at a beginner, intermediate, or advance level?

This skill checklist will help you find out.

 
We will only send you awesome stuff!
Privacy Policy

Privacy Policy

Using Technology Better Privacy Commitment

Introduction

We hold the privacy of your personal information in the highest regard.

Using Technology Better regards customer privacy as an important part of our relationship with our customers. The following privacy policy applies to all Using Technology Better users, and conforms to Internet privacy standards.

This policy will be continuously assessed against new technologies, business practices and our customers’ needs.

If you have questions or concerns regarding this statement, you should first contact the support team on our Contact Us Page.

Collection of Information

In order to use the Using Technology Better website, we may require information from you in order to provide the best service possible.

All correspondence may also be collected and stored, particularly in regard to sales, support and accounts, including Email.

Any information collected by Using Technology Better is collected via correspondence from you or your company. This may be via the telephone, Email, mail, fax or directly through our website.

Visitors and customers of japan.usingtechnologybetter.com will have their information shared back to DAIWABO INFORMATION SYSTEM CO., LTD. and DIS Service & Solution Co., Ltd.

Use of Collection Information

Any details collected from Using Technology Better customers is required in order to provide you with our

products and/or services, and a high level of customer service.

Correspondence is recorded in order to provide service references, and to assist in our staff development.

Web Site Use Information

Similar to other commercial Web sites, our Web sites utilize a standard technology called “cookies” (see explanation below, “What Are Cookies?”) and web server log files to collect information about how our Web site is used.

Information gathered through cookies and Web server logs may include the date and time of visits, the pages viewed, time spent at our Web site, and the Web sites visited just before and just after our Web site.

Storage of Collected Information

The security of your personal information is important to us. When you enter sensitive information (such as credit card numbers) on our website, we encrypt that information using secure socket layer technology (SSL).

When Credit Card details are collected, we simply pass them on in order to be processed as required. We never permanently store complete Credit Card details.

We follow generally accepted industry standards to protect the personal information submitted to us, both during transmission and once we receive it.

If you have any questions about security on our Website, you can email us at <ContactEmail>.

Access to Collected Information

If your personally identifiable information changes, or if you no longer desire our service, you may correct, update, delete or deactivate it by emailing us at <ContactEmail>.

Orders

If you purchase a product or service from us, we may request certain personally identifiable information from you.

You may be required to provide contact information such as:

Name

Email

Postal address

Your school or organisation

Financial information (such as credit card number, expiration date, name on card, card billing address).

We use this information for billing purposes and to fill your orders. If we have trouble processing an order, we will use this information to contact you.

Communications

Using Technology Better uses personally identifiable information for essential communications, such as

Emails

Accounts information

Critical service details.

We may also use this information for other purposes, including some promotional Emails.

If at any time a customer wishes not to receive such correspondence, they can request to be removed from any mailing lists by contacting support.

You will be notified when your personal information is collected by any third party that is not our agent/service provider, so you can make an informed choice as to whether or not to share your information with that party.

Third Parties

Using Technology Better may at its discretion use other third parties to provide essential services on our site or for our business processes.

We may share your details as necessary for the third party to provide that service.

These third parties are prohibited from using your personally identifiable information for any other purpose.

Using Technology Better does not share any information with third parties for any unknown or unrelated uses.

What Are Cookies?

A cookie is a very small text document, which often includes an anonymous unique identifier. When you visit a Web site, that site’s computer asks your computer for permission to store this file in a part of your hard drive specifically designated for cookies.

Each Web site can send its own cookie to your browser if your browser’s preferences allow it, but (to protect your privacy) your browser only permits a Web site to access the cookies it has already sent to you, not the cookies sent to you by other sites.

Browsers are usually set to accept cookies. However, if you would prefer not to receive cookies, you may alter the configuration of your browser to refuse cookies.

If you choose to have your browser refuse cookies, it is possible that some areas of our site will not function as effectively when viewed by the users.

A cookie cannot retrieve any other data from your hard drive or pass on computer viruses.

How Do We Use Information We Collect from Cookies?

As you visit and browse our Web site, the site uses cookies to differentiate you from other users. In some cases, we also use cookies to prevent you from having to log in more than is necessary for security.

Cookies, in conjunction with our Web server’s log files, allow us to calculate the aggregate number of people visiting our Web site and which parts of the site are most popular. This helps us gather feedback to constantly improve our Web site and better serve our clients.

Cookies do not allow us to gather any personal information about you and we do not intentionally store any personal information that your browser provided to us in your cookies.

Legal

We reserve the right to disclose your personally identifiable information as required by law and when we believe that disclosure is necessary to protect our rights and/or comply with a judicial proceeding, court order, or legal process served on our Website.

Links

Links on the Using Technology Better site to external entities are not covered within this policy. The terms and conditions set out in this privacy statement only cover the domain name of usingtechnologybetter.com

Changes to Privacy Policy

If we decide to change our privacy policy, we will post those changes to this privacy statement, and other places we deem appropriate so that you are aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.

We reserve the right to modify this privacy statement at any time, so please review it periodically. If we make material changes to this policy, we will not use the personal information you have submitted to us under this Privacy Policy in a manner that is materially inconsistent with this Privacy Policy, without your prior consent

Delivery Policy

Most goods are digitally delivered instantly via email.  Our services may be delivered either via an online medium or live in person.

For our online delivery see below.  For services delivered live onsite, please refer to our speaker agreement form which is emailed to you on confirmation of booking.

Refund Policy

We do not offer refunds or returns unless we cannot supply goods or services or the goods or services are not delivered as promised.

Australian law is the governing body for all work, goods and services supplied by Using Technology Better.

Marketing Release

Using Technology Better (UTB) may film, record, and photograph me (the results of which are the “Recordings”). UTB may also incorporate into any production(s) any separate content (e.g., quotes, testimonials, biographical information, profiles, photos, videos, sound recordings, artwork, etc.) I provide to UTB or approve in writing (“Materials”).

1.License

I grant to UTB an irrevocable, perpetual, worldwide, royalty-free license to, in its sole discretion, (i) edit, translate, and modify the Recordings and the Materials, (ii) attribute the Recordings and Materials to me by my name, age, and city and state of residence, (iii) incorporate the Recordings and the Materials into content to promote UTB, its programs, or products (“Content”), and (iv) publicly use, distribute, reproduce, create derivative works from, and perform/display the Content, and any excerpts thereof, in any language.

2. No Compensation.

I grant this permission without any financial or other obligation of any nature.

 

For any issues or concerns please contact us