Saturday, March 10, 2012

Becoming a Tech Facilitator: Part II

This post is probably better titled "Becoming an EdTech Leader/Innovator."  I spent almost 4 years a TIF.  It was a blast!  It was one of the few jobs I felt that I really excelled at.  So for Part II let me share with you 8 things that I believe make a good EdTech Leader.  (If you missed Part I, click here)
  1. A Spirit of Service - Most technology staff in any school district are really 'Support Staff.'  It is important to remember that your job is to do anything you can to help make the classroom environment better.  For me, this meant remembering how difficult it can be to be a teacher.  Knowing when to do things for teachers to save them time, when to try to teach a new skill.  Above all, your service should be driven by a desire to understand and serve your teachers, their students, their curriculum, their problems, and their teaching styles.
  2. Life-Long Learner - Technology changes fast!  In the past 30 years, it has been phenomenal to watch.  But if all you are doing is 'watching,' you will fall behind.  An EdTech leader must have a desire to  find answers to questions, learn and search out things that they don't know, etc.  I can't tell you how many times teachers, students and administrators have asked me questions that they could've found easily themselves on the internet. (LMGTFY) Many desired answers but not learning.  I love helping though, because I'm guaranteed the learning, while they are guaranteed only answers.
  3. Connections & Resources - Many times referred to a PLC's.  Any EdTech leader worth their weight has multiple networks and resources that they rely on for their own learning.  These networks should be both digital and personal; online and offline, global as well as local.  I don't see how anyone can consider themselves an EdTech leader without a social network presence.  On the other hand I also don't think one can be a leader without being personable either.
  4. Research & Development - A great deal of effort needs to be put into researching and testing any technology that is deemed worthy of trying into the classroom.  But there are 2 philosophies here:
    1. The Google method - Get a good understanding of the product and it's workings and take it to the classroom with the understanding that things will be new and exciting, but not perfect. They will require polishing, but a learning experience is guaranteed.
    2. The Apple method - Research, test, and polish; then do it all over again until you have a perfect product that will work just as promised.  This method takes longer and perhaps no amount of testing can equal true classroom integration.  (I sat in a meeting this week where the State Dept. of Ed. said they would be testing a new tool for  evaluating tech integration over the next 18 months before it would be rolled out to districts...my grandma moves faster in her sleep than this.  News flash: It will be obsolete when it's released.)
  5. Addicted to Change - To be a leader in educational technology, you have to love change.  This desire is the fuel that keeps you on top of emerging technologies.  Staying on top helps you to see a bigger picture of technology and direction you will need to go in the future.
  6. Cutting edge vs. Bleeding edge - Knowing the difference between the two and important to schools.  You want your students and teachers to have the latest and greatest, but if you're on the bleeding edge it will backfire and ruin the trust your teachers have in you and technology in general.  It requires the learning of emerging technologies, while possessing the maturity to know when to wait for the shiny appeal to wear off and the bugs to be worked out.
  7. Desiring to solve problems with streamlined processes - One factor drives the technology industry today, more than most others.  It is the desire to find technology solutions to problems that people may or may not be aware of.  Today's classrooms are being pulled in hundreds or thousands of directions, whether from stdudents, parents, administrators, or even worse... legislators and governments.  Be an advocate for teachers and their classrooms.  Try to find tools or create ways to use existing tools that will create solutions, streamline processes, save time, and improve instruction in the classroom.
  8. Passion - Perhaps above all the previously listed traits in this post, we must have passion for education and technology.  Let your passion show!  Let your passion help you create, innovate, and share with other educators.  Believe that EdTech can change instruction.  Believe that technology can place powerful tools in the hands of any human being, and any person with those tools can do wonderful things to change the world.

These are a few of my beliefs according to what I've seen through my experiences in edtech.  If you disagree of have anything to add, please leave me a comment.  If you like what you've read, please +1 or thumbs up below.