Random Thoughts

Getting Started in Ed Tech

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Everyone has their signs for when summer is over and a new school year is upon us. For me that sign is a 17+ hour trip from Seattle back to Bangkok. Plenty of time to change your state of mind and a clear sign that the new school year is just around the corner.

This summer while in the States I had the opportunity to meet many new comers into ed tech. It seems more and more schools are starting to understand that they need to have the support in place for teachers to be successful in integrating technology. Until our teacher preparation programs change, and I hope they do, this position it critical in helping staff and students a like in integrating technology into their teaching and learning.

Once again I am new to my position. Making this the 6 time in 7 years of being new to Ed Tech either at a school or at a division. So as I start thinking about this coming year 38,000 feet over Vietnam I thought I’d jot down some notes on what I have found successful in starting a new school year off right.

“Would you like cream and sugar with that?”
At the start of the school year it’s all about serving your teachers and starting to build those all so important relationships. In these first 3 days of PD before students show up I’ll be running around the school checking in with all the teachers making sure their computers are working, that they can access all the resources they need to get the year started and end with “Is there anything else I can help you with?” In my position I’m here to support teachers, meet them where they are at and hopefully encourage them to think about using technology in ways to enhance their lessons and student learning.

My Office is my e-mail
Yes I have an office, a place to hang my hat so to speak, but with about 70 teachers to support when I’ll actually be there doing work and not in a meeting or a classroom is unpredictable. One of the things I start any new school or division off with when I introduce myself is to understand my e-mail is my office. With so many way to stay connected now days my office is always with me. Find a way to be mobily productive (more on my set up in another blog post), use the tools that you are helping to “sell” to teachers for your own productivity. Not only does it make you more productive, but you also understand the tools better yourself. Find a set up that works for you and then keep trying to make it better.

Ed Tech is Messy
I’ve worked in technology at three different schools and have held every Ed Tech title you can think of and have operated under more sets of job descriptions than I care to count. When you are in an Ed Tech role you need to know it’s messy. There are no clear lines between the IT and the ED side of technology. Yes I’m not suppose to fix printers, but if fixing a printer gets me in that teacher’s room I’ll do it. We are here to support and supporting meaning being the professionals our colleagues need us to be. Sometimes I’m IT sometimes I’m ED….heck sometimes I’m even a restroom sub. 😉 What I love most about this job is there really are no boundaries to it. I have administrators that trust I know what I’m doing and let me go do what I do best…..not sure what that is….but I do it.

What advise would you give to someone new in Ed Tech? What’s the most important thing to do to get the new school year started off right?

I started blogging in 2005 and found it such a powerful way to reflect and share my thinking about technology, this generation, and how we prepare students for their future not our past.


  1. Heidi Chaves Reply

    Wow! You’ve just published my exact working style. 1. I always try to give more than asked. 2. Email is my primary communication tool since it is well accepted in our district. I have a personal Blackberry and all my email is forwarded there. I can address issues quickly and prevent them from escalating, which can happen VERY quickly. If a teacher knows they have been heard and acknowledged, they will be more patient as a solution is determined. 3. Yes, sometimes I’m IT and sometimes ED and sometimes just a friend. Building personal relationships with your “customers” is not only smart business but the right thing to do. I’m beginning my 9th year in my position as Technology Curriculum Mentor and the personal connections with my administrators, teachers and students is one of the most rewarding parts. Do everything kindly, cheerfully and emphatically. Thanks Jeff for helping me reflect and turn that corner from summer to school.

  2. Hey Jeff, from a teachers perspective, I appreciate someone who will help me problem solve and bounce questions. They may not have an idea immeduately but will think about it and come back to me – for me it’s about partnerships. The best Tech Ed people I have worked with have had a solid curriculum background. When tech helps address course outcomes in a way that goes beyond other strategies it validates the effort that often going into using it. I am very wary of being shown lots of tech tools without seeing how they can be used to improve student learning – so when an EdTech person takes time to think that through for a particular curriculum context it is so much more powerful. Without that connection for me, tech is just fluff. 🙂
    Have a good year.

  3. Two suggestions for ed-tech newbies:

    1. Work with wider standards.

    Microformats, RSS, ATOM, JSON, RDF, Dublin Core, REST, ical etc. Ed Tech can be a bit of a technical ghetto suffering from ‘not invented here’ syndrome. Educational standards and initiatives (SCORM, QTI etc.) are not always the most appropriate ones to adopt for your programmes.

    2. The technology of your cohort is as important as the technology of your institution.

    Is everyone already on Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo, Google or Twitter? Can you leverage OpenID or something similar? Are your students already tweeting, blogging and video sharing? Are they Redditors, Diggers or Buzzers?

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