IT Infrastructure & Management Q&A

The Essential Tech Question for Schools: What Are the Teacher’s Objectives?

By Lauraine Langreo — October 18, 2022 3 min read
Image of a child's hand on a keyboard.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

This school year, Holly Doe started as the director of technology for Maine’s Regional School Unit 40.

It’s not Doe’s first time being the director of technology—she also held that position in New Hampshire’s Bedford and Pelham school districts—but it still feels overwhelming in the beginning, she said.

Even though Doe is still getting to know Regional School Unit 40, which has about 1,800 students, she already has a lot on her plate, from making sure the technology tools are compatible with teachers’ curriculum needs to ensuring that the networks are secure.

In a Zoom conversation with Education Week, Doe outlined her priorities for the school year and the challenges unique to technology leaders in smaller districts.

This interview is part of a monthly series of conversations with school district tech leaders about the challenges they are facing. It has been edited for brevity and clarity.

What are your main priorities for this school year?

The thing that’s really exciting is that this district is highly focused on the curriculum and they have a strategic plan that’s very delineated. They have specific goals, and they have them around technology. They have a five-year technology plan that was presented to me and they said “it’s in pencil, you can change it, you can modify as you need to, but take a look at it, evaluate what you think.”

That’s one of my huge goals this year is to evaluate this five-year tech plan. Let’s modify it as needed. Let’s understand what the teachers need. So I’m working with my department to try to [figure out] how do we best support teachers so that their quick questions get answered. But then long term, how am I going to help support teachers in their curriculum goals and their technology goals?

[Tech use] has to start with that essential question. It has to start with what the teacher objectives are. And if technology isn’t the tool that addresses that, then that may not be the right use that day.

See also

edtech sept 2022 square
F. Sheehan/Education Week and Getty Images

Can you tell me more about that five-year plan?

A lot of it is about the spending and the sustainability piece. This was a district that wasn’t one-to-one [at elementary levels] when COVID hit, so they went fast and furious to one-to-one. Now they’re sort of in a spot where we need to inventory, we need to make sure that we have a plan going forward of how we’re going to replace devices.

The plan also looks at the software and how we’re purchasing and what we’re purchasing and do these things meet data privacy requirements. And how do we vet applications so that the teachers are getting the resources they need?

I have a feeling I’ll have a perspective that is probably more around how to fuse the curriculum initiatives with the technology as we go forward.

How is your district leveraging technology in the classroom?

A lot of them are using those products that are their textbook-supported products, things that align with their curriculum. They’re doing a fantastic job of demonstrating concepts, engaging kids in the content visually, and with sound and nature and things like that.

One of the things that we are doing is we’re bringing the Legos back. We have some coding labs that are coming into every elementary school, where we’re going to be using the Scratch coding software from MIT in conjunction with these Lego kits.

[While visiting classrooms], I’m amazed that these teachers have limitations in their classrooms. I’m used to seeing projectors on walls. We [at RSU 40] have [some] projectors on carts. But it’s also nice to have that perspective on where we can go from there. The five-year plan includes upgrading classroom technology over the next couple of years. But they do a great job using those tools in the classroom. And my goal is to get around and see what the kids are actually doing on their Chromebooks because I haven’t probably seen enough of that yet.

What are the biggest tech challenges facing your district right now?

Especially being in a small district, I think cybersecurity. All districts are saying that right now, but when you’re in a small district, and you have a small staff and only so much to spread around, it’s hard to get at what those weaknesses are and how you can address them, because typically it takes money to do that. It’s easier to evaluate those weaknesses when you come in new to a district, but it’s [hard to figure out] where to start.

[Hiring] is also going to be a challenge. We’re trying to hire a computer technician right now—that was in the budget—but we haven’t been able to, because there’s no one who’s interested in working that job right now.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

IT Infrastructure & Management Aging Chromebooks End Up in the Landfill. Is There an Alternative?
Districts loaded up on devices during the pandemic. What becomes of them as they reach the end of their useful lives?
5 min read
Brandon Hernandez works on a puzzle on a tablet before it's his turn to practice reading at an after school program at the Vardaman Family Life Center in Vardaman Miss., on March 3, 2020.
Brandon Hernandez works on a puzzle on a tablet before it's his turn to practice reading at an after-school program at the Vardaman Family Life Center in Vardaman Miss., on March 3, 2020. Districts that acquired devices for every student for the first time during the pandemic are facing decisions about what to do at the end of the devices' useful life.
Thomas Wells/The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal via AP
IT Infrastructure & Management Schools Can't Evaluate All Those Ed-Tech Products. Help Is on the Way
Many districts don't have the time or expertise to carefully evaluate the array of ed-tech tools on the market.
2 min read
PC tablet with cloud of application icons floating from off the screen.
iStock/Getty
IT Infrastructure & Management FCC Pilot Program to Help Schools Fight 'Real and Growing' Cyberattacks
School districts and libraries can soon seek new federal grants to protect against the cyberattacks.
4 min read
Dollar Sign Made of Circuit Board on Motherboard and CPU.
iStock/Getty
IT Infrastructure & Management It's Not Just About AI. Schools Are Facing 5 Other Tech Challenges, Too
In addition to the use of AI in education, schools must pay attention to several big tech challenges.
4 min read
A cybersecurity icon over a computer classroom seen through a screen of binary code.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week via Canva