9 Replies Latest reply on Jan 4, 2011 7:53 PM by glen_w

    Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?

    amcmill

      With the budget cuts and struggling finances of our nation's school systems, are you finding that Technology Facilitators are listed among those whose positions may be cut for next year?  Are your TFs in danger of becoming a resource of the past?  We are interested to know what is going on in other states across our nation.  Please let us know the status of your instructional technology specialists and any ideas you have about advocating for their jobs in these tough economic times!  Thanks!

       

        • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
          glen_w

          For a couple of years, my district has cut back on the few Technology Facilitators we have. These facilitators have been moved into full-time teaching positions. Technology trainings are taught by "teachers" (former facilitators and regular educators) after school hours. These trainings provide a "stipend" for the teachers, but we do not have technology facilitators to assist classroom teachers.

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            • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
              dgoodman_1958

              Glen,

              Did your technology facilitators do mostly training or did they work with teachers in the classroom and small groups of students?  Did they assist the teachers when planing units of instruction and making informed decisions about that instruction based on student test data? 

               

              I think the role of tech facilitators vary from one location to another.  Some TFs I know only do training while others work as coaches to support the instructional needs of the students.  They are in the classrooms working side-by-side with the teacher and students.  Do you think the inconsistent role of TFs might be the reason these positions are cut first?  If we were all seen as instructional coaches, might this change. 

               

              I think as teachers become more comfortable with technology and it becomes the tool it should be, the less need for technology facilitators.  Maybe a change in titles would make the difference.       

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                • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
                  glen_w

                  Our technology facilitators worked mostly helping teachers learn to use technology at district trainings. Each training included having teachers create lessons using the technology in their classroom. Most of these trainings included follow-up visits by the technology facilitators. I've never seen technology facilitators at any of our schools (K-12). I'm sure it they were considered coaches and helping in classrooms the position might be more valuable.

                   

                  I think cuts in the position were due to the realization that teachers could train other teachers after school hours. I am not sure there was any consideration of how the cuts might impact the follow-up visits that were part of the previous program.

                   

                  I agree that if/when teachers are comfortable with using technology with students there is less need for a technology facilitator. Approximately 50% of the teachers at my building recently mentioned they do not see the importance of teaching technology to our students. I think we have a long way to go before all teachers become comfortable with technology in the classroom.

                   

                  One of the surprises for experienced teachers is seeing new teachers with technology. Based on my district, these new teachers are not "afraid" of technology like some experienced teachers are. It appears that the new teachers still do not realize how to use technology as an instructional pedagogy tool. Has anyone had similar experiences?

                  • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
                    amcmill

                    Deborah, I agree that there is a discrepancy in the roles of facilitators.  I am currently labeled as a TF, but work more as a Technology Coordinator's role.  Perhaps redefining the position may assist in clarifying the specific roles and responsibilities of the TF?

                • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
                  dgoodman_1958

                  Amber, we had this discussion at our last IMPACT meeting which was held in Asheville this past October.  What prompted the discussion was not only the economic situation but the new IMPACT Grant guidelines which do not require a position for technology facilitator.  This certainly sends a totally different message than previous IMPACT Grants and conflicts with the IMPACT Model that has been in place for years.  I feel that having key people in place to support teaching and learning will go far in impacting student achievement.  I will tell you that my principal has advocated for a TF at each of our schools in the district.  For us, its not about the technology.  It's about giving teachers the support they need when they need it.  That support may come in various ways; we call it differentiation.  I may team teach with a teacher in class in support of content.  It may not include any technology at that time.  My job goes far beyond teaching teachers how to use technology effectively.  Its about being that extra set of hands to move a group of students to the next level. 

                   

                  I think admins will be our best advocates.  If they see our positions as valuable, then they will make it happen.  

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                  • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
                    lcsheehy

                    In AZ it depends on the school district on whether or not they keep technology trainers. Many districts are using grant money to fund having in house technology trainers. With PD grant money, some farm out their trainings. Then, the case simliar to Glenn's where trainers/facilitators are put back in the classroom full time and asked to help support other teachers and technology use. It's a very difficult time for all. I'm not sure what the solution is, but until all teachers become proficient in using technology to help students learn, the need will remain.

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                    • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?

                      Amber, as Laura stated, some districts here in AZ are cutting those positions.  We do have a program in place at the county level where there are Technology Integration Specialist that train in the districts in the county.  These work through our Education Service Agencies.  Our services are free to the school districts, so that does help the districts some.  Here in Yavapai County, we have started a Technology Academy where we train classroom teachers to do what we do at the local level.  Like Glen's district, these are classroom teachers who do their training after school or during Professional Development days.

                       

                      Neil

                        • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
                          amcmill

                          Neil, I think it is wonderful that these services are offered for free to your school districts.  I also think that teachers provide great resources to use for professional development.  However, I am concerned that these facilitator/coordinator positions may be misunderstood by many.  Perhaps working to redefine the role, as Deborah mentioned, would be a better way to clarify the roles and characterize the support which is provided by these individuals.

                          • Re: Technology Facilitators... A Thing of the Past?
                            glen_w

                            I discovered a possible downside to having regular teachers doing these trainings outside of class time. During a break at school today, a fellow teacher came up and wanted me to spend my preparation time training her how to use a new piece of technology. She then asked if I could devote several afternoons to her and a couple of other teachers for some software training they want. I had a fairly busy schedule and was unable to devote this time immediately. How far should a teacher be willing to "donate" time in training others? Is it wrong for a teacher to want to stay caught up on planning and grading instead of using planning time to train other teachers?