The role of IT and the classroom educator: mortal enemies or compadres?

Educators versus IT? Delve into each side to discover how their different approaches and contributions to the goal of educating the minds of tomorrow can be harnessed and transformed to strengthen and extend educational workflows in ways never before dreamed of, benefitting all stakeholders in the education sector.

December 12 2022 by

Jesus Vigo

Mat Pullen

Close up of tug of war

In the educational sector, one of the major issues that impact the quality of and how modern education is delivered stems from conflicting points of view between educators and IT services. Specifically, how technology for learning can and should be implemented, as well as who and how it should be managed.

The two sides have very different views of what is needed, what each other's should be and how often these opposing views come to define the “impact" made within institutions of learning when expectations are not met.

With that said, which side is correct?

Depending on your perspective and experiences, it could be that educators should be provided the hardware and software tools they need to teach students without hindrance. Or perhaps you side with IT in that, equipment and software licenses need to be provisioned against the backdrop of ensuring safe access to educational resources while facilitating device management and keeping data secured.

Let’s dive deeper into the murky waters of each viewpoint to determine which — if any — provides a correct path forward, shall we?

In this corner: Educators

The role of an educator is to, well, teach their students. How they go about translating the lesson plan into a feature and media-rich experience that delights the senses while stimulating the student’s minds is squarely in their wheelhouse.

In the classroom, many educators want control, agency and tools that ultimately support the learning process as well as their own ability to teach effectively. After all, they are in the proverbial “hot seat”, by being tasked with educating the generations to come. So, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that they expect to be provided with the necessary tools to practice the craft they studied so hard for, allowing them to teach in the most efficient and productive manner possible.

Simply put: asking for the hardware and software tools that work with them to teach — enriching the learning process for students — doesn’t seem like educators are asking for a lot, does it?

The opposition: IT services

Ask any IT support person and they’ll tell you: to perform your responsibilities fully and effectively, you must provide support services to all that request them whileperforming them in a timely manner. Part of this process includes managing the processes that ensure that systems are protected, data is secured and ultimately, things run as smoothly as possible.

The simplest way to achieve this? Manage each and every aspect of a process to ensure that the outcome is both controlled and replicable. However, this is easier said than done when balancing the varying needs of users, each requiring similar (though sometimes wildly different) software applications and hardening configurations — a circumstance not uncommon in the education sector.

Here’s the rub: while focusing on the security and manageability of computing devices, data security and keeping students safe from myriad threats, the workflows required to uphold this ethos often come at the compromise of what tools can(and cannot) be used, which determines how they are required to be used and center around the restrictions necessary to keep stakeholders and institutional data secure.

In other words, endpoints are configured to work in the best, most secure way possible so that devices, users and data stay protected. That makes sense, doesn’t it?

And the winner is…

When you look closely at the two views, you’ll notice that they both differ in their approach, but upon closer inspection, they are more similar at their core than would appear at first glance. In fact, both sides ultimately want the same outcome — that the technology just works and for it to:

  • Save both areas time
  • Maximize productivity
  • Minimize downtime
  • Eliminate incompatibilities
  • Provision safe access for students
  • Secure data and devices from threats
  • Provide students with the resources needed to succeed

With more similarities than there are differences driving success in the education sector, perhaps refocusing efforts on combining strengths to minimize weaknesses is the key. And here’s the perfect question to get that ball rolling:

How can both sides become the hero to the other?

Pro Tip: Have them work together!

One of the critical things to bear in mind when planning on impactful changes, such as purchasing equipment to be used in the classroom, procuring software licenses or making adjustments to standards and processes that affect all stakeholders is to have them get in the same room to discuss the variety of needs, wants and “nice to haves”.

Years ago, prior to the global pandemic, IT services were something provided to classrooms. By and large, the process worked fine. A problem arose in the classroom with technology, a work order or request for service was made and IT would swoop in to correct the issue.

It served the purpose to streamline activities sure, but it wasn't very transformational. Meaning, that there were pockets of great practice where technology was used beyond the basic support model. One where technology didn’t just support learning in a pedagogical fashion, but it served an intrinsic purpose much like books, paper and pencil while allowing students to leverage the latest software and hardware to develop creative expressions of learning across all disciplines.

Not just that, but thanks to its assistive capabilities, it supported a number of exceptionalities, like providing a voice to those students that cannot speak or allowing those with physical disabilities to participate in the classroom in every capacity imaginable.

The problem is that this type of transformation wasn’t as mainstream as one hoped. Fast forward several years to a world that has had to evolve quickly while adapting to a seismic shift to traditional educational processes, like distance learning and we see even the most reluctant educators realizing the power of technology to save time, capture imaginations and improve outcomes.

Similarly, the role of IT has shifted away from the iron-fisted, heavily locked-down computing environment toward one that still provisions devices and manages them, but prioritizes securing data over locking down systems by empowering educators with powerful management tools to support the modern classroom. This shift relieves some of the time spent reactively chasing down issues, allowing IT to invest in proactively being a key part of the learning ecosystem by enabling schools to have a greater impact on classroom outcomes, savings of money and even a positive impact on teacher retention and recruitment.

How do I achieve this utopia, you ask? Each institution will no doubt have its own unique concerns to address, but it all starts with the need for communication and a unified vision. One where IT meets the needs of teaching and empowers learning with flexibility and modern device management practices, whilst educators underscore and uphold the tenets of a safe and secure environment — in the classroom and online.

The whole package now includes management and security, from both IT and Teaching and learning angles.

The solution? Educators and IT + Jamf.

Learn more about how Jamf empowers educators while simplifying IT management tasks helping to provide students, teachers and staff with a safe and secure learning environment.

Subscribe to the Jamf Blog

Have market trends, Apple updates and Jamf news delivered directly to your inbox.

To learn more about how we collect, use, disclose, transfer, and store your information, please visit our Privacy Policy.