People often ask Tech Directors, “What exactly do you do?” The answer is of course incredibly complex, but in essence they keep the blood flowing to all the parts of the school.
of a school as a living organism (which in many ways it is). This organism is a
community of people working towards a common mission of student learning. They
work together an interconnected set of systems, workflows, and dependencies
much like the human body.
human body, each system serves a purpose towards the greater goal of keeping
the body alive. Some of these systems are quite visible to use (the consumption
of food, our ability to move, our senses, etc.) while others work in the
background (the nervous system, the respiratory system, the circulatory system,
technology serves as the circulatory system.
human body, the circulatory is vital system that branches to every part of the
body exchanging blood to ensure continued life. It contains a collection of mechanisms
and parts that ensure the blood continues to be oxygenated and distributed,
while prepared for emergencies should there be a problem.
The same is
true of technology in a school. Technology’s purpose in a school is to
distribute the life blood of the organization: information. Whether it’s
network cable and wifi serving as the arteries and veins or maintaining access
to the most updated information as the oxygenation of blood, technology helps
ensure that every part of the school that needs it. Technology has backups and
protective measures to handle issues and emergencies similar to the circulatory
system. And just like the circulatory system, technology works about 97% of the
time and people rarely notice it unless there is a major problem.
we have to address a key thought you might be having: with this analogy, does
he think technology is the heart of the school? Well, yes…and no. From a
functional standpoint, yes, technology runs the heart of the school. The
servers and systems that pump information everywhere its needed acts as the
four-chamber heart of the school. It needs to be well maintained, protected,
and free of clogging. A breakdown of this system is akin to a heart attack with
the same potential severity. From a metaphoric standpoint, no, technology is
not the emotional heart and purpose that drives a school. It is not the reason
the school operates or the school’s driving force. Nor should it ever be…though
I think we all know tech people who might disagree.
as the functional heart and circulatory system, but not the emotional heart of
a school is key concept for all stakeholders as it sets clear expectations and
teachers, parents, students, and technology personnel understand the critical
role technology holds in all academic and operational areas of the school then
expectations can be appropriately set. Uptime requirements and communications
from the tech department will be more in line with the reliance all others
place on their work. The need for institutional support and appropriate funding
will help ensure system health. The need for clear protective measures and
operational procedures will be understood by all stakeholders. And realistic
expectations around technology capacity, functionality, and reliability will be
held by all. Further, when everyone in a school understands the circulatory
system role of technology a culture of better communication and efficient
technology usage tends to arise.
the question: how do leaders, teachers, and parents better engage the
technology department to build this understanding?
technology roadmap for the school should be co-created to outline the current
state of technology across the organization. This will outline the veins,
arteries, and (functional) heart of the system. Such a roadmap will allow for
greater clarity of decision making and serve as a backup of institutional
process and data flows should be mapped by the tech team. This outline of the
blood will allow the school to better understand what data it has, how it is
used, and how teams work together to ensure consistent flow.
Last, an exercise
program and healthy eating program should be put in place. The goal of better
data flow, protected technology, and systemic improvement should be treated the
same way we aim to exercise and eat well. The school should do this through
strategic planning, cybersecurity auditing, and data flow and protection
understanding that technology is the circulatory system of the school and
treating it as such, the functional aspect of the organization can be
maintained and improved in a healthy manner. This will allow everyone to focus
on the true heart of the institution.
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