Getting the Small Stuff Right

I’d be a very rich man if I had a dime for every iPad that sits unused because of poor wireless connectivity, ineffective filter management, or poor apps distribution.

Why is it that after decades of failure in education technology we are still making the same mistake of ignoring the basics while chasing the latest silver bullet?

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

IT adoption/usage follows a course simliar to Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs in that to get to the next level the foundation must be there:

  1. Physiological -> Network Infrastructure
    • Is your network up 99.999% of the time?
    • Do you have sufficient wireless coverage to support all staff and student devices?
    • Do you have sufficient internal and external bandwidth to meet the needs of your users?
  2. Safety -> Basic Productivity Software / Basic IT Policies
    • Is your student information system user friendly, functional, and reliable?
    • Does your staff have access to email, a phone, and basic office suite? Are they competent in using this software?
    • Do you have appropriate AUP and filtering policies that respect the needs of your students?
    • Do you have sufficient help desk services to meet the needs of your users?
  3. Belonging -> Shared Resources / Communication
    • Are your shared services reliable for staff and students?
    • Does IT help give staff and students identity in the district through phone extensions and/or email addresses?
    • Do staff and students have some element of ownership of the technology they use for learning?
    • Are there effective tools to communicate to staff and students?
  4. Esteem -> Collaboration /Acknowledgement
    • Do you have tools to assist in professional collaboration?
    • Can staff and students access tools for self-reflection (i.e. blog, wiki, sites, etc…)?
    • Are staff and students acknowledged and rewarded for using technology in effective or innovative ways?
    • Do you highlight those staff and students that are exemplars of technology use?
  5. Self-Actualization -> Connected Educators/Administrators
    • Are staff and students using technology to be part of the global conversation?
    • Do non-IT staff participate in the selection and implementation of educational technology?
    • Do IT staff participate in academic and learning focus discussions of educational technology?

We cannot move to the goal of connected educators if we are spending all of our time in the minutiae. As IT leaders in our districts we’ve got to guarantee the first four layers exist so that our learners can thrive.

When the trivial becomes invisible then we can realize the potential of technology in the classroom.