Joined: 31 Aug 2011
Congratulations You Are Now Tech Coach Now What?
Congratulations You are now Tech Coach for your school Now What?
Recently I responded to a question at Education World from a teacher who was just named Tech Coach for his school and wanted to know what he should do first . My answers prompted the editor of Education World to expand on my answers in the form of this blog about Technology in Education.
Before I start I like to say to educators “You can't teach 21th century students with 18th century methods”
Now for the answers, first thing you should ask yourself as tech coach is this a real job or just something on paper? Many times I come across so called tech coaches or tech coordinators who can barely turn on a computer much less maintain them. Let's say you do know something about technology. Do you know about the network that is in your school? If not then you should make a detailed inventory of what computers are in your network that are used by teachers, students, and administrators. You will find that you are dealing with three different systems. If you are only responsible for the students systems you will find that knowing about the other two systems will really help.
Next begin a relationship with the vendors that supply your school's technology knowing therm will open the door to help down the road including training and systems upgrades and advice on how to keep your system up to date.
Here comes the tricky parts begin an assessment of what the teachers really know about the applications they are using to teach are they using it or ignoring it because they were never properly trained on the application you will be surprised how many teachers could be better in technology if they knew they could get help to answer their technology questions. Or you might find that you have several tech savvy teachers like yourself could be a valuable part of your school's tech team many times I have been to schools where tech coaches work alone because they don't reach out to teachers who could help them and become advocates for him to introduce need and much needed technology to the school.
Tricky part two students many times tech coaches don't work with very tech savy students who are eager to show him what they know about the technology they used every day. Students want to show that they are responsible and what to use technology to learn. For example many gaming companies go to high school students for gaming ideas in exchange for working with the latest gaming development software. You would be amazed at the drop in absentees and bored students when they are learning something that they can really use in their everyday life.
Social Media that word alone brings fear to schools and it shouldn't social media is a way your school can be part of your local community. Creating a social networking page branded and controlled by you is a great way to let the community know what is happening at your school. As a Tech Coach Understanding social media like Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin is very important you and your school. In fact you can make this a project for the teachers and students that they can work on together.
Mobile Devices like many other industries education is also become a place where smartphone are becoming part of the way people work and play. But unlike other industries education different since you are dealing with students you are not employees and teachers who are. So what's the problem Wifi if you have one in your school these devices can access that system if it is not secured now you must do what other industries do that is MDM mobile device management and make sure to lock down those devices and restrict access to certain website while the students are in school. Since they devices can go anywhere in your system if it is not protected. This is where knowing your vendor comes in handy they can show you a way of controlling secure access if not then find a vendor who can but most times your wifi vendor will show you how to set-up a password protected wifi system.
Parental Involvement I have seen many times schools set up systems for students and teachers but don't get the parents involved this is a mistake. Sometimes parents have concerns about the technology especially when it comes to their kids accessing the internet and social media in school. You can solve this problem by inviting parents to technology days at the school to show them how the system works and how their children are being protected while they are working on the internet. Also show them how the technology can work for them. For example there simple program called “School Notes” that can send information to a parents smartphone like emergencies at school, parent/teacher meetings, and student grades. This way the parent will become involved in what's going on in the school. In some cases you will find some very tech savvy parents who are will to mentor students on what they are doing and open doors to careers that students can aspire to.
Tricky part three school administration many times tech coaches find that they have little to know budget to implement a solution for their school that's where you really have to become the CIO for your school. Now you should create a technology plan that shows how implementing your technology solution will benefit your school wit a clear Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) and a Return of Investment (RIO) for the school that not only save money but also also includes better attendance, record keeping, and better student/teacher interaction that implementing your solution will bring. Plus don't forget to bring in your advocate like teachers, students, and parents who will support you in fron of the school board. So this is what you need to know about your new job as technology coach. Good Luck!
To give you a start on your new job please read this case study about one of our first clients Hayt Elementary School in Chicago their Tech Coach used our solution and was reward with a system that became a local standard for wifi in schools. http://www.slideshare.net/wire321/case-study-14032447