Two links and some questions…


First, for those of you, who like me are following ISTE from afar, you can follow the Twitter feed in this neat “newspaper” format.

Next, I’ve spent the last weekend nursing a summer cold (bleech) and working on updating my portfolio. The results are here.

Last, if you are so inclined, answer a couple of questions about the network in your school district:

  1. Does your district allow for remote access of files and email via the Internet? How about mobile devices?
  2. Does your district keep centralized records of student work in electronic format? Does this include scanned copies of written work?
  3. What’s innovative about your district’s network? How is it behind the times?

Fast Fact Sheets on Education Technology


I’m getting together some materials for my new administrator about different technology tools, and how they can be used in the classroom. I’ve done a series of quick overviews suitable for a busy administrator. I’m sharing them here for your input, critique, etc.

  1. Blogging Education Technology Briefing
  2. IWB Education Technology Briefing
  3. Podcasting Education Technology Briefing
  4. Skype Education Technology Briefing
  5. Teacher Laptops Education Technology Briefing
  6. VideoMaking Education Technology Briefing
  7. VoiceThread Education Technology Briefing

ED 667: Module One Reflection

  1. How different or similar is the job compared to your previous perceptions of the job?
  2. What do you think is the most challenging aspect of the job?

The thing that struck me is just how differently the responsibilities could be depending on how the position is approached, and how it can exist at different “levels” within a district.

The text, The Technology Coordinators Handbook, described the position for a district at of my size as having fewer IT support responsibilities, more employees under them, a greater focus on curriculum, but they are a team leader, and at a mid-level in the district both developing and implementing policy. In smaller districts, as is true generally, you end up wearing more hats, may have more IT responsibilities, and obviously fewer employees working under you to support what you do.

The Technology Coordinators Handbook from Pinellas County Schools took it from a completely different perspective. Although a very large district (~150,000 students), they appear to have “pushed” the position down to the site level. That means that like at a small district, the person wears many hats, and does not have employees under them, but has support laterally, and above for their work. I had some difficulty quickly locating information, but my impression from peers working in Florida is that many of their elementary schools (especially new ones) are quite large (1,000 or more students) which would make that level of support fiscally viable, whereas older, urban schools usually max out at 500 – 600 students making it more expensive to support that type of position.

The University of Virginia graduate students, I think, had a very teacher-y perspective which is much like mine, and that was it was better to not have this position responsible for IT issues, but instead focused on curriculum and policy. This is how I’ve thought of the job, and how I think it is best done, but I’ve never worked in a small district with 10,000 students where everyone is wearing multiple hats, e.g. one of my fellow high school alums is teaching up near Mt. Shasta, and is both her district’s superintendent and high school principal, whereas our own high school had 3,300 students and that largest graduating class of that year in the state with over 700 students.

I would think this “dual” role would be the major difficulty of doing the job well because one of the roles (the curriculum aspect) is focused on human capital development, whereas the other (IT) is focused on widgets, and customer service. My own experience is also that IT may appreciate curriculum concerns, but they are not trained education professionals, and that unless curriculum folks are embracing technology, it can remain marginalized within a district.

This is the tension now in Education Technology. The national administration (US DoE) would like to fold education technology funding into general funding for education, reasoning that it should be “infused” throughout curriculum and instruction. But the reality is that many schools and districts may not prioritize ed tech without that requirement, and that many more are leery of committing efforts and money to projects because of how the money is rolling down.

On a personal basis, I would say that for me, I would find the administrative aspects of this position the most difficult. I would prefer to concentrate on training, working with students, and developing policies. I’m not as crazy about grant writing, but I don’t mind that either. I think I’d do much better as a tech coach or specialist, but my goals for this course will be to learn about what the coordinator position entails for the following reasons:

  1. It’s good to know what your boss does, because it helps contextualize your own work;
  2. The goals, and job description for a tech coordinator at a larger district are what the ed tech “team” should be doing, that I would be part of;
  3. It never hurts to learn.

Education Technology: Where Does It Live?


This post was part of an assignment for my class on being a technology coordinator. Your comments and feedback are welcome.

Where does it live? This question comes from Chris Lehmann, a well know educator in education technology circles. He is principal at Philadelphia’s Science Leadership Academy. After going through the assigned readings, looking at job descriptions, and thinking about my own district, that was the question that popped into my mind.
Educational ideas only have lasting power if they exist within the systems and structures of institutions that claim them. Everything — every system, every policy, every structure — in schools represent a pedagogical choice, and we don’t take advantage of that. The classes we choose to schedule, the length of the classes, the times they meet — every possible permutation privileges certain kinds of learning and makes other kinds of learning harder. – Where Does It Live? Chris Lehmann,, 11/13/2008.

Education technology does not have “home” in my district, and that is a sad, sorry fact. There is no job description for a District Technology Coordinator, because that position does not exist in my district. They used to have two technology integration specialists, but those positions were eliminated two years ago with budget cuts.

Here is the description of the job duties for a technology coordinator in a district of my size from The Technology Coordinator’s Handbook (p. 23-4),

  • a mid-level administrator;
  • with a staff of eight instructional technology specialist who provide professional development;
  • they focus on instructional aspects of technology, and information technology is handled by other departments;
  • their team helps develop technology plans for the district and write grants to secure funding for district initiatives.

Because education technology has been an “orphan” when we had tech specialists, they worked under the head of IT, rather than in curriculum. The problem there was that curriculum is a “power-base” in our district and by being outside of it, education technology was further marginalized. By all rights it should be embedded in the curriculum department, but they see no need for it, so we have a district of 50,000 students in a city of 500,000 (similar to the scenario in the text) with no district-wide vision of how technology can be used to further education goals with our students. We have an approved technology plan, but the reality is that most of the technology initiatives that have occurred in recent years have happened in isolation in individual sites. Meanwhile, neighboring districts have strategic plans that are district-wide and include technology, like integrating technology with IWBs, and have staffing to support training and teacher development. My district’s education technology training, by contrast, is provided solely by classroom teachers in addition to their regular duties for stipend pay.

The team that wrote a three quarters of a million dollar EETT competative grant was made up of myself, a middle-school resource teacher, the district IT Manager with a hired grant writer. That level of “expertise” is not unusual in a smaller district going for smaller grant amounts, but it’s a mighty thin expertise base for that amount of money from a district of our size.

May 12, 2010 Tweet and Blog for Ed Tech


ISTE is asking bloggers, like myself, to share the word about keeping funding for ed tech in the federal education budget. Here is what is happening…

As part of the re-authorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (which became known as NCLB — No Child Left Behind), the current administration is proposing the direct funding of education technology be eliminated. Why do we need separate funding specifically for education technology?

  1. The administration, the public, and all of us, would like to see students prepared for 21st century workplaces. This requires that they have access to and use technology in the classroom now;
  2. Without dedicated money, efforts to use technology in classrooms will be hit and miss, instead of concentrated, wide-spread, and effective;
  3. In these tough fiscal times, states will not be able to “pick up the slack” in federal funding. Some states (like mine) have relied solely on these federal programs for education technology expenditures in recent years.

What are we asking for? Support funding the EETT or successor program to at least $500 million in the FY11 U.S. Department of Education appropriations.

Please do one or more of the following:

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