Writing about this topic might seem unusual for almost everyone; I didn’t find bloggers writing about it, or other people interested in the subject.

It seems that the IT Department’s role in schools is completely clear and that it’s okay as it is. I reviewed a number of school web sites in the “technology” section to find out what these schools are doing and in general they have the same “sense” of it.

It’s fair to start with the actual common role of IT Departments in schools. Some of the most traditional functions are:

  • Coordinate and supervise the installation, maintenance, and support of existing and new servers, systems and networks.
  • To configure, install, and maintain the network hardware and software of the school.
  • To create and maintain a system for backing up data and program files.
  • To ensure integrity of the network by continually updating network system security to provide for latest protection against viruses and other types of network vulnerabilities.
  • To keep an inventory of equipment, computers, software licenses, and others.
  • To manage the school’s hardware and software.
  • To assist faculty and staff with professional technology-based computer hardware and software inquiries.
  • Provide preventive and corrective maintenance to equipment.
  • Based on these common functions, a deductive reasoning would suggest that the actual “traditional” role of the IT Departments in schools is mainly “to provide technical support to users and provide a strong technology infrastructure (network, hardware, and software) for others to connect, interact and perform their daily functions.

This has been the situation for several years. However, due to the constant introduction of new technologies and the new approaches of technology, most of these traditional functions will start to disappear. Cloud computing, increased Wi-Fi access, free “hands on” interactive and collaborative applications, and open source software will force the changes.

With all these approaches in place, the IT Department will have lots of free space in their agendas. Does it mean that we will no longer have this department in schools? Not really. Only that if its role doesn’t change to what we are living now, we will have a group of capable personnel closed in a cage and a whole school wasting more than a few resources.

The main role of IT departments in schools must be “to innovate”. Tech support will continue to be needed; and if the tech team is not innovating or looking for ways to innovate, to propose, and implement creative ideas to improve education, the school will be losing essential elements of 21st Century novelty.

Some might be mislead to think that this role belongs to other teams, or even to the educational technology team, if there is one available in the school. This is not necessarily true. Who has more access and passion for new technologies than the techie personnel? Let them out of the office; let them share what they know! Schools will see significant variations by unlocking the IT personnel potential.

The IT Department must play a key role facilitating, providing, and supporting new technologies, with the objective to integrate, foster, and promote the development of imagination, creativity, and innovation in students, teachers and staff. Otherwise, they will be reduced to the “guys” to call when the computer is broken.

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