Advocacy in Education IT

Advocacy in Education IT

Summary: Lots of the comments Chris and I receive from readers speak from the position of acceptance of deplorable funding levels and a sense of resignation that things will never get better.  Well, I don't buy it!

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TOPICS: CXO
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Marc WagnerLots of the comments Chris and I receive from readers speak from the position of acceptance of deplorable funding levels and a sense of resignation that things will never get better.  Well, I don't buy it!  Few of us are happy with the state of educational funding in America today -- let alone funding for Education IT.  NLCB and it's unfunded mandates has left more -- not fewer -- children behind -- and attitudes about education in America are at an all time low.  So what are we to do? 

Well, we can keep limping along or we can make a concerted effort to educate our administrators as well as our faculty as to the benefits of a rich computing environment -- utilizing a variety of computing solutions to meet as broad a range of educational needs as possible.  In an environment as politically complex higher education, or even a school district, administrators like nothing better than being able to demonstrate to their colleagues what they could do with better funding of critical services.  Education IT needs to advocate for those services it provides -- not just accept the money they give you and hope they don't take it away before it's gone.  Planning prior to each budget cycle, asking for what you need, and backing up your requests with sound data will serve your needs, and the needs of your educators and students much more effectively than just wishing you had more funding. 

Our telling them what they need just doesn't cut it either.  We have to be technology advocates for our schools.  We have to be able to demonstrate how much technology can benefit our schools and above all we have to get our administrators to accept that to deliver consistent services to our students and educators, we must have life-cycle funding. 

We can argue all day about what a reasonable life-cycle should be.  We can debate when we should re-purpose aging hardware and when selling old hardware at surplus makes more sense.  Do the cost-benefit analysis for yourselves and adopt whatever life-cycle makes sense but spend some time with your administrators and your educators advocating for the solutions that work best for your school.  No one set of solutions will meet every body's needs but without life-cycle funding, the quality of services which you can deliver will suffer. 

Learn to think like CIO's -- not consumers -- and your educators, your administrators, and your students will benefit from those efforts.

Topic: CXO

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  • I agree, provided...

    ...that the emphasis is on doing what's right for the school, not just the IT people. There will never be enough money to do everything that's useful, but it's easier to set priorities if the focus is on how to better educate students.
    John L. Ries
  • Inovation and creativity over advocacy...

    <pre>"Learn to think like CIO?s ? not consumers ? and your educators, your administrators, and your students will benefit from those efforts."

    </pre>
    I'm a volunteer technology coordinator for a K-8 school. My paying job is as an IT Consultant for enterprise-wide systems and my wife is a biology professor at a local university, so I get an educator's view, an administrator's view, and a CIO's view of technology. The truth is everyone thinks their job is important and should get "full" funding - whatever that means. The reality is that every organization struggles with financial priorities and not everything gets funded no matter how important it is. One can advocate all he/she wishes but if you want to get the attention of the funders, demonstrate that you know how to manage a budget. You'll show that you know how to handle limited resources and will be more likely to get funded or at least not cut. The reason I subscribe to the Education Blog is that I admire the clever things Chris does that I can do to save resources (Edbuntu, Untangle, etc.) Our tech program runs completely on donations - both cash and equipment. Our students are not going to learn any more if we spoil them with new PCs every two years. In fact, they may learn to be better thinkers and stewards if they see us setting the example on how to extend limited resources. That's a life skill that will serve them well and unlike squeaky-wheel advocacy, it's a skill that's in higher demand.
    wonsil@...