Bill MacKenty

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ITIL in Education

Posted in Educational Tech Leadership on 20 - August 2013 at 09:54 AM (10 years ago). 255 views.

Wouldn't it be great if there was a framework schools could use to effectively manage technology? Wouldn't it be great if there was a group of battle-tested best practices we could use to ensure technology delivered the benefits we desired? Wouldn't it be great if other industries, focused like a laser on results, developed a group of procedures to ensure technology was delivered as a service to support the mission of the business?

I've been in the ed-tech business for a while now (since 2001 formally). I've seen several different scenarios how technology is managed in schools:

1. None. A computer is (sometime literally) placed in a room and left for a hapless teachers to plug and in and gather dust. I've also been in schools where interactive whiteboards are put into classrooms (a school-wide implementation) and teachers are left to their own devices. This doesn't end well.

2. The teacher runs the tech program. In addition to a reduced teaching load, they get the honor of being "that guy". In no particular order, they manage the network services (including DNS and DHCP stuff), user authentication services, database services, file storage services, front line support services, and of course a bevy of other services. I like to call this style of technology management "huh?"

3. There is one system administrator and a computer teacher. They fight because the sysadmin's need for a stable & secure user environment clouds and eclipses the need of the IT services to benefit the users. Or more succintly, technology is poorly managed, as it does not serve the customers nor the business needs. Rarely are the IT services well defined in this case.

4. A well-resourced school has technology director, data-manager (or DBA), a system administrator, and 2 front line technicians. To support the teachers, there are usually 1 or 2 full time technology coaches or integrators. That's commitment. But even then, I see questions about effective managment and "what are the clear, measurable benfits to learning that technology brings to the table".

What I know about these 4 different common approaches to educational technology is they don't always work. Are schools realizing the benefits of technology enhanced learning?

So the longer I've been doing this, the more value I see in management processes like ITIL. When I learned (and began practicing) project management, it was like an epiphany. Clear process that supported success, and controlled for time, quality, benefit, cost and risk. you know the most important question we should ask when we start an IT project? Is this worth doing?

I want to be very clear, though, that these process need to be tailored for a school environment.

ITIL is a framework for effectively managing IT as a service. We are incorportaing ITIL into our environment at my school, and already see the value of service strategy, serice design, service operation, and so on. I will be writing more about ITIL in schools, and what we see working, and what we see not working.

tl;dr: The core competency of schools is teaching and learning. Not managing technology. Schools should learn from other industries about effective IT management so the investment returns value.