- How different or similar is the job compared to your previous perceptions of the job?
- 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:
- It’s good to know what your boss does, because it helps contextualize your own work;
- 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;
- It never hurts to learn.