My Six Hats: The Job of an Educational Technologist

I help teachers and students use technology for more effective and efficient teaching and learning.

“Yes, but what do you do?”

Remember this one?

 

A quick survey of 20 Ed. Tech professionals at a conference will likely get you 20 different job descriptions, and at least 10 different job titles. So far in my brief Ed. Tech career, I’ve been an IT Coordinator, Director of Technology, Director of Educational Technology and now Director of Academic Technology. And yes, these are all indicative of different views of the role of Ed. Tech within a school structure or technology program, or the different areas of responsibility within the school.

Early in this school year, my new boss (himself a former INSERT TITLE WHICH INDICATES ED. TECH LEADERSHIP HERE) brainstormed the broad categories in which I should be involved. Since my position is a new one for the school and I was obviously new to the position, it was a good exercise is defining where my eyes should be. Here is what we came up with:

  • Curriculum. Technology integration requires looking at the curriculum of a school, both the capital ‘c’ Curriculum of the courses and the learning opportunities afforded by extracurricular clubs and activities.¬†
  • Device Program. A successful 1:1 program lives in both the educational and IT realms and requires an understanding of both. This is one of the greatest arguments for having a dedicated educational technology expert aside from whomever is in charge of the IT infrastructure of the campus.
  • Digital Culture. Technology integration requires a cultural shift as much as a pedagogical one (and it could be argued that these are in fact the same shift). As with curriculum, this requires addressing the world inside the classroom as well as the other areas of the campus. Where does innovation happen, and how is it celebrated? Do we have opportunities to showcase high-quality digital work as well as traditional/physical artifacts? What is the digital citizenship plan for the school? Why does it matter to teachers and students?
  • Faculty Development. Perhaps the most visible and constant aspect of Ed. Tech leadership is either working with faculty directly or producing training resources for faculty to use on their own. If one subscribes to the TPACK model, we are perhaps the most direct source for teachers wanting to increase their Technological- and Technological-Pedagogical knowledge. To my mind, this also includes my development and learning needs as well as PLN activities like blogging, which way go back to my own faculty or others around the world.
  • Infrastructure. This may be one of the greatest sources of variation in all of our positions– to what degree are we responsible for the infrastructure? I would argue (in another post, perhaps) that it’s imperative for the educational technologist to not have responsibility for managing the infrastructure. I feel very fortunate to be in a position now where I can focus exclusively on the teaching and learning, yet I have to be well-versed enough in the infrastructure to be the bridge between the educational and IT staff. To be effective, I think that we as Ed. Tech leaders have to be able to communicate the needs of the educational staff to the IT program, and vice versa. You don’t want me fixing your computer. You do want me, though, to know when your tech is failing or insufficient and tell someone why you need different hardware.
  • Teaching. Again, this is an area of huge variation in the field– how much, if any, do you still teach? Most of us are classroom teachers who walked down a very specialized field and began sharing that knowledge, passion and expertise until we found ourselves in a support role rather than a classroom one. In small or private schools, we may still teach a class or two (I have the opportunity to teach an elective in Digital Media, for example). In larger districts where the technologists work at the district office, there’s little to no opportunity to stay in the classroom.

These are my six hats– are yours different? How does your school define the role of the educational technologist?

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