Why Do Schools Need Educational Technology Specialists?

Click and wait … is that on the standards?  There is something going on with the router, or the wireless access point.  It is bad.  This is the opposite of the work I love to post.  This is me prepping for an hour before a forty minute class because the iPads are taking a minute and a half each to set up.  All I am doing is opening a browser, navigating to a page, and logging them into a profile.

If the students were older I could ask them to log in, but with my 3rd grade class this would mean losing 10 minutes of the all too short 45 minute class.

Tech is Tech … What Can You Do About It?

There isn’t much to do about the slowness of the internet.  The router will be replaced in the coming weeks, and if past performance is any indication, the problem will migrate to a new piece of equipment.  This is the daily struggle of interdependent factors that make the position of tech integration specialist necessary.  Someone has to be available to do all of the extra prep and recovery from all of these great technology related assignments.

If I want the 3rd grade to use the website Tynker.com, I need to set up accounts several days before class and on the morning of class I need to get each iPad signed in to the right account.  Following the class I have to work with the teacher to make a selection of the work visible on their public blog.  This is not an extraordinary amount of work to do for one tech rich lesson.  Accounted out, it might be as much as 10 minutes per student overall, start to finish.  (10 min x 48 students = 480min= 8 hours).

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As a trained English teacher I am very good at noticing how many minutes per student a lesson requires in prep and recovery/ response.  Honestly it is a metric that sometimes kills assignments.  Often it is not the class time that is lacking, but the out-of-class prep time.

What Is The Answer To Our Problems?

This prep and recovery time is often invisible to anyone not in the classroom daily, and it is the very reason we need tech integration specialists and STEM coaches.  Teachers need a partner that can not only inspire them to try new modes of learning, but a pedagogical partner to take on part of the load.

The “prep metrics” even encourages specialists to teach a limited number of tools and interfaces over the course of the year as each one requires different enrollments and support.  When I am evaluating tools I want ones that work in a 3 year age range, so I can build lessons over time from one year to the next.

Great teaching requires budgeting time like this and when something takes longer than we thought it would, we have to re-budget time.  This is when I start feeling stress, it is 8 in the morning and I might not have enough time to get the tech ready before the kids walk in the door for tech class.

This makes me think about all the teachers out there doing tech integration alone, the teachers making bold changes to their instruction without a support network of specialists in their school.  What it comes down to is that if schools want teachers to innovate, they have to provide the support needed to make that happen.  More often than not this support isn't training, it is time.

How do we learn more about Technology Integration Coaches?

Fortunately for us, here on the TeacherCast Educational Network, a brand new podcast has emerged called Ask the Tech Coach hosted by our very own Jeff Bradbury.  Each week, Jeff will take on questions from teachers across the world and help teachers learn how to use technology in their classrooms, while assisting tech coaches on best strategies for working with struggling teachers.  Take a moment and check out the new podcast today on iTunes, Google Play or on your favorite podcast player.

Are you a Tech Coach?

If you are a tech coach, we would love to hear from you and learn how we can work together.  Please leave a message below and connect with us today!

About the author, Sam

Sam is Makerspace coordinator at Echo Horizon School, the nicest little school on Los Angeles' West Side. In the classroom since '02 Sam has taught grades PreK-12. Every lesson is a writing lesson.

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