When funding shrinks in a school district, one of the first items on the list is the purchase or replacement of hardware and software. This action continues to support my hypothesis that when schools consider “technology as a tool” that they see technology as a liability rather than an asset to help them focus forward. I am not writing that technology and its associated activities should be exempt from budget reductions. When the budget crunch occurs, the district is sent reeling backwards considering program reductions, larger class sizes, and personnel reductions.
When technology is viewed as a systematic process of reaching goals, then a district in budget crisis can focus forward, rather than seeking disaster prevention. There is that famous saying that “necessity is the mother of invention.” This takes in the focus forward mentality of educational technologies. Where many see restrictions, reductions, and disasters, we see opportunities to continue to improve, sharpen our skills, and help our districts continue to meet their goals, yet in different and new ways. After a short period of shock, educational technologists are ready to roll up our sleeves and find or invent new ways of communication, teacher productivity, and ingenious ways to support teaching and learning.
This compilation of thoughts is based on Neil Armstrong’s analysis that the Apollo moon mission occurred because several important curves lined up at the right time. One of those curves is leadership. In a course changing crisis, such as large funding reductions, leadership from executive administration and boards of directors should be to focus forward, not retreat. How can we sharpen our processes and products that make our districts better? How can we leverage emerging technologies, cloud technologies, and the power of networks — personal, professional, and electronic — to strengthen progress toward goal success?
Additionally, in a recent posting, I wrote that the district’s educational technologist can be a strategic leader, not a technician. This individual knows the inner workings of departmental processes and how they interface across the school district. Strategic leadership from the technologist can help refine processes, identify redundancies, and help with economies. When district leadership adds the strengths of the educational technologist to its austerity program, the district can focus forward to help teachers teach and students learn.
To visualize metaphors for what retreat and restraint looks like compared to focusing forward, taking calculated actions in the face of adversity, the following images show this.
Here’s what a district looks like that is reeling and moving backwards; holding hands, watching the action
Here’s what a district looks like that is focusing forward; Part of the action.
photo from: http://www.undercurrent.ca/images/surfing.jpg
Use your educational technologist to help focus forward.
Hoping that your curves line up.