Confessions of a Digital Leader: Learning New Technology, A Necessary Evil

Daily, many of us in these roles expect teachers to be open to learning new technology…new ways of doing things. I’ll admit that it’s sometimes frustrating when learning something new becomes so much of a hassle that it’s completely unreal. 

At the same token, I also have to admit that our version of “this is important” differs greatly from that of the users that we serve and knowing that part is half the battle. 

I’ve been reminded since June by my staff that I “speak tech” a mile a minute and that often the tools seem to overlap, creating a haze that novice users can’t seem to see through. Knowing that, I’ve walked on eggshells, making sure to not mention specific technologies, even in casual conversation, because when I do, the people around me are overwhelmed with feelings that they have to learn it too.

But I’m lucky. I’m surrounded by people in my office who do whatever is necessary to be well versed and learn. They go above and beyond regardless of how many phrases are tossed out and how many tools sneak across our desks.

Not everyone does that though. That’s a real reality for many schools. A sad one…

The harsh truth here is that if you are in a tech leadership role, the job and needs change daily. You have to pay attention and you have to learn…constantly. You have to do this even when you don’t want to or feel like it. You have to do it…not because the tech is the answer or because we have to know all of the things…but because you need to be able to speak with clarity on whether or not certain tools meet criteria of whatever the need is. It’s a way of the beast…like it or not.

This doesn’t mean that I’m open to cold calls from Edtech sales, LinkedIn messages or emails trying to show me the latest or greatest tool. 

Please don’t.

This is also not a statement that somehow the tech matters more. It doesn’t. I still believe in focusing on outcomes and the intention of the learner. 

I do not believe that we can ignore trying new things on a “beta basis” in this role, even if they never make it to a conversation outside of our tech leadership teams. I’m also not saying that we have to use every single tool or idea. That’s nuts.

We do, however, have to know and learning is central to that. 

…especially when we need to support learning in the classroom.

…especially when that learning is coming from our students and teachers. 

Comments 2

  1. I understand the need for learning technology, but there are also so many new technologies on the market that are confusing. Many of these “new” products are redundant – they offer many of the same features as others. New is not always better when the product currently available meets your needs.

    It is also important to be sure to speak to your audience. Any basic communication class will teach you to adapt your message to your audience. When talking to teachers (the actual end users of this technology), one should “speak their language” and TechTalk is not the language of teachers. Teachers are overwhelmed with responsibilities each day, and introducing new technology does not necessarily make their teaching more effective. Teachers know that technology is important, but so is everything else that is thrown at them.

    1. Post

      Hi Cathy, perhaps it would help you to know that I’m not talking about “teachers”. I am talking specifically about those in tech leadership roles that serve teachers. Basic reading skills might have also allowed you to read the part where I specifically talked about beta testing and that not every tool makes the cut or goes into a classroom. I don’t believe that new is always better but when you specifically work in instructional technology, you kind of need to know how to use those tools relevant to your job. – Rafranz, Experienced Director of Instructional Technology

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