A recent post by Felix Jacomino (@felixjacomino) on the MISBO Technology Director's listserv titled "EdTech vs. IT" got me thinking this week. Felix was seeking input from listserv members regarding his idea for a conference presentation on the topic, and a lively discussion ensued. It is an important conversation, because so often there is conflict between IT operations staff and those using technology in the classroom.
Unfortunately, the "EdTech vs. IT" mindset is all too prevalent in many organizations. Operational IT looks down disdainfully on their users from an ivory tower, viewing them as "threats" to be carefully controlled and monitored. Teachers view the IT department as a bunch of out of touch control freaks who hinder rather than facilitate their work. As a former teacher, I have seen it from both sides.
This sad situation is wrong on many levels. The relationship between IT and users should be a partnership, not a boxing match!
I have always viewed IT as a customer service organization - that is, it is my job to help everybody else in my organization do their jobs better. Period. While there are sometimes conflicts that arise between network security and ease of use, it is my job to find a happy medium that balances network security with constituent needs (faculty, staff, students and parents). It is NOT my job to make life more difficult for teachers nor to stand in the way of educational innovation. My department should facilitate technology use, not hinder it!
Regardless of industry, all IT departments must align themselves with business objectives if they are to do their job well. ALL schools are in the business of education, be they public, private, or charter. That means supporting teachers and students and their educational objectives, not standing in their way. Sometimes that means having to give up some control for the greater goal of educating children.
I think Felix's idea for a conference presentation is a great one. I only hope that the people who really need to hear it will attend.