Director of Educational Technology, Hudson Falls Central School District, Hudson Falls, New York
In this era of new and emerging digital technologies the teacher / student—student / teacher role is becoming increasing blurred.
With the rapid evolution of technology and infusion of this modern resource into the classroom, the role of teachers as the sole provider of content and trainer of technology use has to change in order for schools to remain current. Our digital natives, the students, grasp the concepts of technology use intuitively. With all the shifts and demands on teachers, adding the burden of staying current with digital technologies becomes a staggering task. Students’ role as teacher of technology use is a win-win for all! Hudson Falls first adapted the model of student involvement in technology instruction in 1999 after implementing an innovative program called Generation Yes developed by Dr. Dennis Harper.
Without significant process, content delivery, and structural reform to schools, our 14th century model of education is unsustainable!
For most, the current model of education revolves around a school building with classrooms built for about 30 students and one teacher. This structure can be likened to a wagon designed to be drawn by a team of six horses. Perhaps one or maybe two of the horses can be removed but when the third horse is cut from the team the wagon cannot be pulled and must be redesigned! With current budget restraints the continuous cutting of teachers and resources from the classroom will result in too few horses to pull the wagon. Without significant reform we will be forced to remove classroom walls to accommodate large class sizes. Instruction delivered by technology is a virtual team of horses.
The job of an IT Administrator is the easiest job in the world; if surrounded with competent staff.
The importance of a competent staff cannot be over stressed. A reckless, shoot-from-the-hip analysis can wreak havoc on an organization and cause many sleepless nights. Besides the obvious attributes of being a sound problem solver, able to isolate problems into single variables, and technically competent, I also look at potential staff using the characteristics of the Boy Scout Law: A Scout (Analysis) is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. And the notion of using such criteria as how long someone will stay with the organization is my last concern. I would much rather hire someone great for one year than someone awful for ten.
Approach everything in the school organization by building the highest level of quality into the process and the desired results will be produced the first time with reduced costs!
An American statistician and Professor William Edwards Deming approached the American manufacturing sector in the mid twentieth century with an idea about building quality into the manufacturing process. Many of his ideas, the 14 Points of Management, were shunned by American manufacturing. He took his concepts to Japan in the early fifties where Japan applied these principals to their automotive industry. Today’s successful Japanese auto industry can be linked directly to Deming. Producing quality product and services by following the Deming philosophy of performing a task correctly the first time has a profound effect on the output of an organization and with significant cost reductions. Deming was the author of Out of the Crisis (1982) and The New Economics for Industry, Government, Education (1993), many of his ideas are applicable to today’s education crisis.
Just because we can doesn’t mean we should!
Far too often technology professionals think they can code a better solution to a problem and save money rather than buying a debugged, tested, documented, and supported product from a software or content vendor. Schools, local and state support agencies are in the business of educating children; they are not software developers. Buy it; it’s cheaper and immediate!
The views expressed on this site are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect those of the Pearson Foundation.
Greg Partch is the Director of Educational Technology for the Hudson Falls Central School District in Hudson Falls, New York. His professional experience reaches into both the education and private sectors where he has served as a school business manager, a high school science teacher, a Central Office administrator, and as the Manager of Information Systems in the paper industry. In his current role, Partch has been a multi-national advocate for recognizing and promoting the powerful role students can play in forging new and innovative practices to transform instructional methods and procedures. He is also an avid supporter and early pioneer of cloud computing via thin client desktop virtualization. Partch has been published in Today's School and, Modern Media and Methods, and his work has been the focus of numerous case studies. Presentations include papers given at NECC, NYSCATE, NCES, CoSN, South China Normal University in Guangzhou, China and he is a 2012 recipient of the “20 To Watch” program presented by National School Boards Association. Partch received his BA and MAE in Education from Castleton State College.