– CC-by-SA-3.0 – by Cephas – hover over or click on image for attribution.
Technology Services is a service department. We aim to help the teachers, students, and staff in School District 60 with technology and educational technology. I’ve told my staff frequently that we have a captive audience. Our staff and students don’t have another choice when it comes to who services their tech/systems etc that are district owned, so we need to provide great service.
As of last week we’ve never had so many active tickets since I’ve tracked them. This can often lead us to enact the “Good Enough” solution and move on. The “Good Enough” solution gets the job done but as our Safety Officer, Chad Cushway, told me once, “Good Enough, is seldom good and often not enough.”
I’ve likened this to getting 80% of the job done before we run off to the next task, the next squirrel (distractions or shiny things), or off to put out an inferno. There are many squirrels, very many tasks, and the occasional inferno. The fires need to be put out of course, but some tasks and squirrels can wait if we make it important to make the time for the 20%.
Communication between parties and in depth understanding of both tech and education sometimes makes the difference in understanding whether an issue is a squirrel, task, or inferno. While squirrels are interesting (or distracting) we might need to stop feeding them so often!
The 20% for us can often be people time, documentation, research, thorough testing, and consultation. It isn’t always at the beginning or the ending of the task. It can be both and throughout.
The challenge of making the time is it needs to be both our time and yours. It is difficult to ask a teacher to take time out at 10:42 to show them what we’ve done. Or to ask an administrator for time when they have their own fires ongoing which many of us as technical staff don’t necessarily recognize. Either way if we want to do things well, do them right the first time, we all need to spend the time. I’d hope this would lead to more successful completion of tasks, more collaboration between our department and schools, and less returns to fix a job that was thought to be complete.
There might be many places where this is more than appropriate. Two come to mind immediately.
The first that comes to mind is “Images” of computers. We image computers (wipe, build new, refresh) frequently through the year. We prefer to do them once a year as they are time consuming to build images and to put them on computers. Going back to do it again is an unfortunate loss of time for everyone. Where the 20% comes in on these is getting the desires of the school for their image (what programs are on it etc) as well as testing of the image. While we can test that programs work, printers print etc, we really do require the help of school teaching staff to let us know if we’ve got it right for educational uses. There is also the considerations of old software not working on new tech/OS’s and licensing issues that need discussing.
The second would be new projects. I’d define new projects as an addition on to the norm. A cart of chromebooks, a bunch of ipads, a new 3D printer, etc. These can be very time consuming especially if they are new or the assigned staff member is new to them. The learning piece can be front-end loaded for our staff so that it can be successful. We know however that the learning piece can be time consuming. Clear understanding of the desire of the school/department for use of their project is key. For that we need to take the time to communicate what are the wants of the school, and ask what are the capabilities of Tech Services to meet the needs. Also on new projects that are to be tech for students we have a department policy that requires schools to communicate their digital citizenship plan for students around the project. That’s important to us that the work we do will provide students with educational opportunities in a safe environment.
The long and the short of this is I will work with my staff to take the time around the two items above and consider other places to do so as well. To do that we will need some time from you as well. If you are able to carve the time out for us, thank you.
If you aren’t able to provide the time then I’d ask if your task is a squirrel that we should ignore?