Category Archives: removing barriers

Is this a problem with technology or leadership?

Image shared with me via Tina P. Monteleone

Image shared with me via Tina P. Monteleone

There was a conversation on Twitter between two educators sharing their frustration regarding the process of getting a website approved, and they alluded to an old post of mine titled, “4 Guiding Questions for Your IT Department“.  In short, the questions are the following:

  1. What is best for kids? 
  2. How does this improve learning? 
  3. If we were to do _________, what is the balance of risk vs. reward? 
  4. Is this serving the few or the majority? 

These questions, although meant to help guide IT departments in education, are not meant to be exclusive to that part of school systems. In fact, these questions are meant to be a bridge of common questions between IT, teachers, and administrators. If you can’t answer these questions from the viewpoint of an educator or leader, then why would any new technologies be adopted?

The other thing about these questions is that they are not about “absolutes” but about conversation starters between different groups that have different roles in the system. We spend so much time doing our own thing, that we often get lost on our singular purpose of “what is best for kids”.  If we start the conversation there, it tends to refocus people on finding a common goal.

But here is the thing…If you are struggling with technology, whether it is infrastructure, access, filters, or a plethora of other problems that can happen, this is often not a technology problem; it’s a leadership problem.  I remember one educator making the remark that if we are learning about things like assessment, wellness, curriculum, or whatever, many educators are provided time to do that, but when we learn about technology, that should be on your own time after school.  That shows how high it is on the priority list, similar to the notion of “when you are done your work, you can play games on the computer”.  It is an afterthought for many, at best.

When leaders (from any position) see the need for technology, they ensure that it is not only accessible, but simple to use.  The more barriers that educators have to go through with technology, the less likely they are to use it.  We can say things like “you need to have a growth mindset” and place blame on others, but do we create schools where technology is so easy to use that it most likely will be? Again, that is about leadership, not technology.

When things become priority, they happen.  If we really want to develop our students as the leaders of tomorrow, then the tools of today should not be so hard to access.