Over the past few years, I mentioned several times to Keith Krueger, CEO of the Consortium for School Networking
(CoSN), that CoSN was a great organization for larger districts that had CTOs or CIOs that
supervised large staffs but that technology coordinators in smaller districts
didn’t really have an organization that represented their interests. Keith
rightfully replied that many of CoSN’s resources (which are superb in my
opinion) also were relevant and applicable to smaller districts’ needs. I
concurred but still wished that there was an organization that better
represented these folks. As I
noted way back in August 2006 when my readership was about 12 people, there
really isn’t a national association that represents the majority of people in
these positions like there is for principals, teachers, counselors, school
business officials, etc.
Although my desire for an organization that comprehensively represents
technology coordinators has yet to be fulfilled, in November 2007 CoSN unveiled its Small School
District Technology Leadership Wiki. I can’t take any credit for this, of course, but I’m delighted. The wiki is chock full of information
for technology leaders in smaller districts and, of course, can be edited and
expanded by others. I encourage you to check out this
fantastic resource and to contribute and make it even better. Thanks,
P.S. Join Keith and me later today for an online
chat about PK-12 technology leadership.
We’ve been wrestling with this in our state as well when it comes to state level associations which represent schools district technology personnel.
In our state, half of the school districts are less than 1000 students. In small districts, the person in charge of technology could be a teacher, an administrator as part of his/her duties, it might be a solely dedicated administrator, it might be a student with high aptitude who just graduated, or it could be someone who has just graduated from a 2-year program.
It is extremely difficult to find an association that might meet all of these individuals needs – because they vary tremendously.
School technology professionals are incredibly diverse in their personal and organizational needs. Other administrator positions such as principals, curriculum directors, special education directors, and superintendents all tend to have some very common problems and interests when they are grouped. An elementary principal in a large urban district still has “teacher” issues and still has “student” issues – the same as the small rural principal.
But, a technician in a small district might be concerned about the nuts and bolts of keeping the hardware running and sees his/her needs most often through that lens. A technology director in a large district may never even touch the hardware.
It is this disparity, I think, that leads to making it difficult for organizational fit. It definitely does in our state.
I’m still glad you are looking out for the smaller schools though, it is needed.
Joel, this is an excellent observation. The lack of an overarching organization, however, hurts y’all when it comes to advocacy, right? There’s no entity looking out for your interests and lobbying on your behalf, which is a contributing reason to why you don’t have enough support, have lower salaries than your corporate counterparts, have crazy workloads, etc. It’s safe to say that few administrators really understand what it means to be a small district tech coordinator or a large district CTO because no group is out there trying to inform them.
Let’s keep talking about this and advocating for this somehow because the need is huge.
This seems like it is a great way to share information. What I’m finding in my district is that the technology facilitators are concerned with nothing more than finding useful websites for teachers. We are a district with 26,000 students and I am concerned with the methods we use when we approach technology. Having a partnership with Sysco, we spend $$$$ on more useless technology that is not geared toward 21st Century literacy’s.
Thanks for the post, and I will check out the wiki 🙂
Scott – you are exactly right, nobody is doing the legwork and advocating. A couple of budget cycles ago, we saw a significant grant vanish without a fight from any organization. In my district, we lost $320,000 specifically targeted for technology acquisition from the state.
As far as organizing, it is more difficult than it sounds to start a new organization from the ground up. Our former educational media association has tried to bring in technology folks, and provide a place to call home. The educational media association has changed over the years moving from what was primarily supporters of audio visual equipment, to including library media specialists, to becoming a predominately library media specialist-focused organization.
The landscape of technology support professionals is very factionalized now, even with the opportunity to become part of an organization with a history of strong advocacy on behalf of its members. The large district directors have only a few in its ranks who belong to the organization (myself included in the few). The small districts have few technology support personnel in the membership.
It is a challenge with each and every discussion when it comes to answering, “What is in it for me?”
We’ve tried to keep the focus on the theme that we all ought to be pulling together to provide learning opportunities for our students and staff around technology, but it is not well believed yet.