What do we mean by ‘managing education technology’? It doesn’t mean acting as a gatekeeper in the pejorative sense, barring people from using any equipment until they’ve passed some stringent tests you’ve set.
If anything, it means the opposite – making sure that all equipment is available (and usable) on demand. That might sound a counsel of perfection, but it’s the underlying principle you should be aiming for.
Tell people where things are
You won’t be managing anything if nobody knows what there is in the way of edtech provision in the first place. Request that a portion of the staff room notice area be set aside and put up a list of what IT devices, services and facilities are available for staff and pupils to use. Announce any new IT acquisitions and what they can be used for at weekly meetings or in the staff newsletter, if you have one.
Don’t assume that everyone will know what something does. If you buy a printer that can also perform scanning, for example, do what you can to make sure staff are aware of this and familiarise them with the process of digitising imagery from paper hardcopies.
Prevention is better than cure
Keep your equipment in good working order by ensuring people know how to use it correctly. Run induction sessions for new members of staff, and look at holding regular ‘ICT surgeries’, where staff can have the chance to try out equipment for themselves under supervision, away from the pressures of the classroom.
Take care of equipment loans
With equipment that’s loaned out, create a checklist of things for borrowers to observe once they’re finished – that mobile devices are properly switched off, that essential leads are included with audiovisual equipment, and so on. Make it quick and easy for staff to report any issues they’ve experienced with the equipment – otherwise, the problems will simply be passed on from one user to the next. When the equipment’s returned, check to see whether it needs charging or cleaning.
Create a booking system
Your booking system for computer rooms and equipment can be as simple as a weekly timetable form pinned to the noticeboard where staff can put their names to the slots they want. Alternatively, if your school has an electronic booking system for support staff and resources, ask if it can be used for recording and keeping track of when staff have booked out different items of equipment and specific areas, such as audiovisual facilities and computer suites.
Introduce central locking
Don’t nominate yourself as the main ICT keyholder unless you’re happy with the idea of being repeatedly pounced on at inconvenient times. Could the school office look after the keys? If so, see to it that there’s a book for staff to sign (unless electronic booking is an option) which clearly indicates what loanable items and room keys have been borrowed by whom and when.
Terry Freedman is an independent education technology consultant and writer.