No one in the school system uses more technology than you do. The computer/tech teachers come close, but they rarely use as broad a range as you. From your automated system to your databases, to the various resources and apps you incorporate into your teaching, you are constantly accessing different technologies. You may have a website you maintain for the library. If your district permits it, you might have a Twitter account and use Pinterest and/or Instagram. Technology is intrinsic to almost everything you do.
And then there is the Tech Department that manages and controls access to all the tech in the district. It can be a love/hate relationship between the two of you. Depending on how you are handling it, sometimes it’s all hate. Unfortunately for you, you can’t afford to let that happen. The tech department is too powerful, and if you can’t
turn the relationship around, the Tech people will be a constant road block.
From the Tech Department’s Perspective
To change your mindset, look at the issue from the Tech Department’s point of view. There are a limited number of them and the faculty and administration are always needing them to attend to an issue immediately. When everything is functioning properly, no one ever praises them. As soon as something goes wrong, blame is heaped on them.
They are charges with safeguarding the integrity of the system, but students are forever trying to get around any firewalls they construct. Teachers (and rarely students) don’t always think before opening emails and inadvertently download malware and viruses. The bandwidth is limited and too many people want to stream videos. They are in a no-win situation.
Then you come along. The school year starts and you need them to get any newly-purchased database uploaded to all your computers. You want students in the incoming class entered into your automated system. New teachers need to be entered as well. If your ILS system has had an upgrade, you want the tech department handling that immediately as well.
Research projects during the year may have you making quick calls to the tech department to open a site the filter has blocked. You may need them in order to make modifications to your website. They try to keep everything organized and handled in order by requiring you to fill out a ticket, but you want them to realize you have immediate needs and can’t wait for them to get around to dealing with it. By the time they open the blocked site, the kids are through with the project.
Going from Hate to Partner
How can you turn this around? You need to start building a relationship with the Tech Department and the best time to do it is when things slow down. If at all possible, set up a meeting with them during the summer to discuss how you can help each other. And bring food to the meeting.
Make a list of the jobs you need the Tech Department to do and put them in approximate chronological order. Ask if you can be “trained” in doing some of them yourself so as not to strain the department’s limited resources. In my last library situation, we loaded all the new students and teachers into our system.
Let them know whenever a research project comes up, you will explore potential sites ahead of time to identify which ones might be blocked so the Tech Department has advanced warning and has time to unblock them. That said, see if they can find a way to “fast track” any requests from you to open sites if some are discovered while the assignment is underway. Explain why it is so important while showing you recognize their concerns and problems.
Find out if the head of the Tech Department is a member of ISTE. If you are as well, you can use that as a common bond for discussion. You might even attend the ISTE conference together. When you come across articles or resources you think would be of interest to the Tech people, preferably online ones, send it to them.
If you haven’t done so already, see if you can get on the district’s Tech Committee. You need to show your tech competence and that you recognize and value the service given by the Tech Department. When you become part of their solution instead of being their major problem, you will have found a valuable ally in ensuring your program runs smoothly and meets the needs of students and teachers.