Bill MacKenty

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The way IT is supposed to be…in schools?

Posted in Educational Tech Design Support on 09 - May 2008 at 03:09 PM (about 16 years ago). 182 views.

In the formidable book IT Governance Policies & Procedures by Michael Wallace, Larry Webber, there are hundreds of pages devoted to the effective management of IT in the enterprise. 

The chapters are sound, well thought out, and concise.  Every important topic is covered - from patch management, to software development, hiring, policies and procedures, to authoring ISO documentation to surviving audits. The enclosed CD is a great resource - with all the forms and documents from all the chapters.

As I was looking through the book, I couldn’t help but notice the discrepancy between corporate IT, educational IT, the way IT

should

be done and the way I’ve seen IT run in a school.

In the enterprise, IT supports the business operations and mission. If your company makes plastic frogs, then everything about IT works towards that end - it’s singular, focused, and a convenient measuring stick. Because enterprise corporations seem to love process, procedures, and clear goals, their IT structure reflects that culture. 

In K - 12 schools, IT also supports the mission of the education. IT is also an end in and of itself. I’ve previously written how I see IT in schools; that essentially the 2 things IT does in schools is help make administrative life easier for our teachers and staff, and strengthens learning for kids - that these are 2 different, separate areas of IT in schools.

However, the ideal falls short in the face of the real. Ok, we should patch all our computers regularly to keep them healthy. We have 4 or 5 different versions of two or three operating systems. We have very old computers that can’t be updated. We don’t have the staff to go to each computer - and in some places we can’t get auto-update to work because of network problems.

We are short of support, short of money, and short of time. And in that sort of context, Wallace and Webber’s ideas fall to pot.

We try to do it by the book - but this kind of process takes time and organization that most schools simply don’t have.

However, we are not short of expertise, and we can be nimble. Unfortunately, 3 highly skilled IT people with 1500 users doesn’t fit into a “policy and procedure” kind of place. It’s fits into a barely managed chaos model. So IT spends time supporting existing systems, and it’s difficult to move forward. Teachers are understandably nervous about adopting technology for their classrooms (who would want to start something that might break and never get fixed). So it is difficult to move forward - but we manage.