As technology expands within school districts around the globe, educational organizations continue to face the challenges of bridging the gap between their IT departments and curriculum teams. While IT seeks to have control over tools and network resources, educators desire to provide technology resources to their teachers and students in an effort to improve personalized learning. Can they work together? Is there an opportunity to create an environment where both IT and educators can collaborate? In today’s session, presenters and Ridley School District IT experts, Don Otto and Ray Howanski, showed it’s possible.
Ridley School District is comprised of nine schools, 5,600 students and 600 faculty and administrators. They have 6,000 iPads, 1,300 Mac OS laptops and 530 Mac OS desktops, along with other devices. They have productivity Apps, a SIS and LMS, Jamf as a mobile device management (MDM) tool and a slew of instructional apps. They have 10, 40GB WAN connections, 476 wireless Aps and redundant core routers. And with a complex server infrastructure, and only a small support team (8 building-level techs, 5 IS/IT support staff, 1 Apple repair tech and 1 network engineer), it’s no surprise they want to keep a handle on their vast network.
With the massive amount of infinite information available for schools, there’s no doubt that there’s a need for IT to control that gateway; however, educators want access and availability to utilize this infinite information to better their instruction. From the curriculum perspective, they know more access means better communication for students and teachers, along with more powerful presentation tools. But they know it’s still essential to involve IT to avoid spam or privacy breaches.
Additionally, instructionalists want the best product for each content and often cite what the sales person told them about the product – the reasons they can’t live without it or how easily the product is able to integrate into their current infrastructure. However, by bringing IT into these conversations, they’re able to get a better understanding of how this can realistically work within their district’s infrastructure.
Otto and Howanski said that while the two groups were far apart, there was room to grow together. Through collaboration and understanding, they design sustainable learning environments.
“To have a sustainable learning environment, we need to continually have this future- forward conversation,” Otto said.
All-in-all, by sharing goals, having open discussions before making decisions, and by providing ongoing, daily feedback to adjust conditions and knowledge changes, both IT and educators at Ridley were able to meet their individual needs and achieve results.