My career has been spent in the space between different populations and translating the language of one population into the language of another. The differences in language are largely the result of different types of problems and situations technologists and educators are prepared to manage and spend their time managing. Compared to the social milieu of classrooms, technology system tends to be quite predictable, although not completely predictable. When I network switch fails, for example, a technologist quickly recognizes the symptoms, knows the source, knows that must be done to restore the network connections, and perhaps even take steps to reduce the likelihood of a repeat failure.
Teachers, on the other hand, must respond to very different circumstances in classrooms. While educators have adopted standards and testing as the measure of their success in recent decades, there is little agreement about what makes a successful lesson or a student who has learned the intended lessons. Whereas a technologist dealing with a failed network switch can identify the problem and know when it is solved, a teacher cannot know for sure if a lesson failed, and if it did, they may have to look at factors inside or outside their classroom. The same lesson may have been experienced quite differently by different students as well.
|Objective and immediately observable outcomes Known strategies for configuring systems.
Generally predictable systems.
|Subjective outcomes with unknown timelines. Uncertain strategies. Unpredictable systems.
The difference between technologists’ and educators’ problems and how they solve them are not clearly bounded. Educators use the technology systems provided by the technologists and the IT systems are used by students and teachers. When working in schools, technologists must be responsive the realities of school users. The result is that some strategies information technology professionals have learned and refined working in other businesses and industries may not be effective in schools. More accurately, the systems may be well-managed, but those practices may interfere with the capacity of schools to accomplish the goal of preparing students for life beyond the school.