Budget woes- what will happen to educational technology?

January 17, 2009

In my home state of Florida, we are under a budget crunch such as I have not seen in my 20 years of teaching. Cuts are everywhere, but most notably in the technology area. Our school district recently spent huge amounts of money retrofitting every classroom in the district with interactive whiteboards, new computers and peripherals, and software to run them. One of the first things that were cut was the technology staff charged with keeping them up and running!

We in Education are used to dealing with things like this, but in an era where we are increasingly dependent on technology, cuts like this really hurt. For those of us who are on the “bleeding edge” when it comes to implementing technology in our classrooms, I have a few thoughts on how to mitigate the coming crisis in tech support:

1. Really dig into the “nuts and bolts” of the technology you use. Study up on how to manipulate all of the preferences, drivers, settings, etc. so that you can troubleshoot common problems yourself.

2. Establish a rapport with the technology staff at your school (if you still have one) such that you can be trusted with enhanced permissions on your computer. Many of the common problems that arise can be easily corrected, however most of our technology is so locked down that we cannot access the settings we need to fix it!

3. The internet is your friend! We will all have to support each other by sharing our expertise in various areas so that we can find the answers we need. Visit forums and blogs and don’t be afraid to ask for help- you will find that the blogosphere (especially in our area) is very willing to help.

4. Consider being your own tech support- technology that we personally own is the best way that I can think of to make certain that we have control over our own “technological destiny”. It is expensive to be sure…but the cost could be somewhat offset by a healthy tax deduction (check with your tax advisor on this)

The bottom line is that we all need to help each other in this time of need. The good news is that it is easier than ever to connect and collaborate thanks to Web 2.0 (or 3.0 as some would argue…) blogs, forums, podcasts, wikis, interactive chat, and Skype (to name just a few) will become our first line of defense as our tech support staff continues to dwindle.