Saturday, January 25, 2014

What does a Technology Coordinator do? - Analysis of initial perception and post-interview

Hello everyone!

I'm am currently taking a course at the University of Northern Iowa called "Coordinating Technology in an Educational Setting."  This past week, I was asked to create a mind map using an online tool called Mindmeister, to create a mind map of what I thought a Technology Coordinator does in their job.  Below you will see the mind map that I initially created regarding my thoughts on what a Technology Coordinator does in their daily job duties, as well as my thoughts on what their initial job description probably required.

What does a Technology Coordinator do?  Pre-Interview:
Pre-Interview Mind Map created using Mindmeister
You can see that I divided my initial thoughts into three different categories; Administation, Maintenance, and Support.  What I initially really concentrated on was what I believed a Technology Coordinator's job description would include.  I thought that most Technology Coordinators were probably in a position where they would make more large scale, visionary like decisions for the district and then delegate everything else to technicians and support staff.  I would find out later that my initial thoughts on what a Technology Coordinator does as apart of their job was very simplistic to what they are actually expected to do.

For my interview, I chose to interview the Technology Director within my school district.  This school district is in a western suburb of Des Moines, IA and it is currently quickly expanding.  The district has over 1000 staff and approximately 9000 students throughout it's K-12 grade levels.  Below you will find my interview transcribed, as well as my Post-Interview Mind Map.  It was an extremely enjoyable interview, where I learned just how much I didn't know about the role of a Technology Coordinator.  I also liked the interview because of how upbeat, happy, and humorous this Technology Coordinator was about his job.  I can see that there is a lot of work involved, but as long as you find ways to have fun in the job, it can be very enjoyable.

Highlights from an interview by Jeremy Cooper with a Technology Coordinator in a growing Des Moines, IA suburb school district, conducted on 1/23/14.

How long have you been a technology coordinator?
I have been the Director of Technology for this school district since December 2011.  Prior to that I was the Server Administrator in the same district.  I also have had previous experience as an Executive Director of Software Development at a Des Moines,IA based software firm.

What do you envision as your primary role in your position?
To lead a team to provide the structure that the District needs to meet the technology needs for now and in the future for nearly 1000 staff and 9000 students.

What are your duties and responsibilities as a Technology Coordinator?
Everything to do with technology needs in the district.  There are many faces to the responsibilities.  Computers, servers, networking, wireless, email communications, social networking tools, phone systems, cloud services of many types, web and internet systems, internet filtering, video and audio systems, working with local businesses that provide technology services, and planning technology needs for new school buildings.  All of the needs listed come from the needs of all departments, staff, and students as well as working with all the external businesses having to do with technology.

Have your duties and responsibilities changed from your original job description?
We are a constantly growing district and changes are becoming very common.  The world of technology is one of the fastest changing fields we experience.  A director of technology has to be open to change, and has to always keep up with these changes and how they will impact each school, and how each classroom will be able to use new technology.  The staff of teachers always come up with new ways in which to integrate technology and it is my job to help support these changes to the best of my ability.

What sort of assistance do you receive in doing your job?
Our technology department receives a lot of support in terms of helping me develop the annual technology budget and processing the necessary paperwork to keep everything moving along.  I also receive a lot of support my technical staff and our teachers in resolving issues and challenges within the district in regards to technology.  Our staff does an excellent job of working through problems quickly and efficiently, acting very patiently even when things do not immediately work as it was intended.  We are always learning and working together.

What parts of the job do you really enjoy?
Seeing the successes we achieve with my team in both big and small projects.  There are many challenges to overcome in this kind of job position and there is always some kind of a project going on.  I also like seeing the technology work to make a difference in the classroom.  Celebrate the large and small victories!

What parts of the job would you rather have someone else do?
Interviews.  (Just kidding)

If you could restructure your position and responsibilities, how would you do it?
Find more time in which I could be creative.  I would also like to have more time, so perhaps working on a time machine.

What words of wisdom do you have for successfully Coordinating Technology in an Educational Setting?
Listen carefully to the needs of the people you are serving and ask questions to understand what the best possible solutions are.  Always remember, even though most of the communication you have is with staff members, everything you do is for the students and for the staff to help the students learn.  They are why we all work so hard.  Learn to talk to people at a level they will understand.  IT people tend to talk using technology jargon, normal people don't do that.  Try to enjoy your job!  We work long hours and long weeks, celebrate your successes.

Post-Interview Mind Map of what a Technology Coordinator does:
Mind Map created using Mindmeister

After completing my post-interview mind map, my initial realization is just how much I didn't know about the role of a Technology Coordinator.  There are so many responsibilities and duties that I did not consider when I made my initial mind map.  I did not realize that this kind of a job position requires an enormous investment of the individual's time, and it involves constantly making decisions that effect the district and all of the staff and students within it.  I became more aware of the small detailed jobs and projects that come along with being a Technology Coordinator, it isn't simply just making large decisions and delegating all the support and maintenance challenges.  I also did not realize that there was so much collaboration and team work involved within the position and that the job description seems to change annually as more responsibilities are constantly added.

After completing this activity, I learned that it can be very insightful, interesting, and fun to get to know what the leadership positions within a school district really require.  As a teacher, I had a good understanding of the Technology Coordinator's job from a teacher perspective, but I had no idea how they viewed the job from their side.  They simply have way more responsibilities and duties than I could have ever imagined, and now I have an enlightened appreciation for the role they play within the district and their impact on staff and students.  Thank you for reading my interview and viewing my mind maps, I look forward to any feedback!

~Jeremy Cooper