The use of technology in the classroom is growing and has played an important role during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the Albert Lea School District, there are five people in the information technology department, which has remained stable since the start of the pandemic.
Michael Davis, information technology coordinator for the district, answered questions about his department and how it has been affected during the pandemic:
Q: Are the IT employees all in the district office or are there different ones at each school?
A: “Our network administrator, our mobile device manager and I all have an office in Brookside, but we spend time in the schools for some tasks that need to be done in person. We also have two technology specialists. They divide their time between all of our buildings depending on the issues that arise on any given day. »
Q: What kinds of things does IT oversee? How have your responsibilities changed during the pandemic?
A: “We make sure all the technology, district-wide, is up and running. This includes classroom computers, interactive displays, teacher and student Chromebooks and iPads, the IP phone system, and the list goes on. This includes troubleshooting, repair and maintenance. We also maintain the school network.
There are also many third-party systems that we deal with, such as our Student Information System and various subject- and grade-specific programs. We also maintain all computers and systems used by support staff.
Much of the work we do is practical. When we had to convert to the remote learning model due to the pandemic, it was very difficult for our department. We sent Chromebooks and iPads home with each student during this time. Having to resolve issues over the phone rather than in person was not something our department was not used to. There are many variables at play when students use the devices at home rather than in a classroom on our network. »
Q: How many devices are you responsible for (Chromebooks, iPads, etc.)?
A: Currently, our K-2 students have iPads and our 9-12 students have Chromebooks. Each teacher has a Chromebook and each class has a computer and a large screen, whether it’s a projector or an interactive panel. We have around 4,000 devices that we support.
Q: How important is your role in the daily operations of the school district? How is education changing to include more technology?
A: The role of IT is vital to the daily operations of the school district. Our district is full of amazing educators who are very capable of adapting to difficult circumstances.
That being said, I don’t think there would be a single employee who would be excited if the network went down or a single teacher who would be excited if I told them that their students’ Chromebooks wouldn’t work for a few days.
Technology is constantly changing and impacting the way we live our lives, and education is not immune to this. The information our students have at their fingertips is truly amazing.
Q: How often is equipment replaced on average?
A: It’s not set in stone, but the current replacement cycle is four years for Chromebooks, five years for iPads, and five years for desktops.