3 Strategies to Improve EdTech & IT Staffing on a Budget
In the 2023 Hot Issues Survey published by NAIS, 100% of respondents reported that "finding and retaining staff as workplace expectations shift" is a top challenge. Though this is a challenge across the organization for schools, the costs are particularly high in the technology space. Technology investments ballooned during the pandemic. The opportunity loss costs of not properly supporting these investments are extraordinary. Finding, retaining, and paying for quality IT and Academic Tech staff has never been harder, especially for smaller schools.
There are a number of ways that schools of any size can make incremental changes that have a big impact on improving the positive impact of technology without adding full-time employees to the technology department.
Designate IT Point People: In a Wall Street Journal article from 2021 titled "It's Time to Get Rid of the IT Department," author Joe Peppard asserts that IT departments are for a bygone era that is no longer compatible with the digital-first world that we live in today. While this point is debatable because of the incredible resources that a healthy school IT department brings to teachers and staff, it sheds light on the power of individuals in departments other than technology to drive the productive use of technology. Consider jotting down a list of the "power users" in each department who also have the interpersonal and leadership skills to support others in technology. Use that list to craft a technology committee and find ways to help create space in the schedules of the members to collaborate on school IT and EdTech initiatives.
Draw Talent & Promote from Within: There is no doubt that technology is an incredibly valuable skill set. However, it is a skill set that can be learned more than the soft skills that are critical for a successful IT leader. For a school that is struggling to find the right EdTech or IT leader, consider identifying internal candidates who have strong working relationships in the school, leadership and interpersonal skills, and the ability as well as the interest in learning the ins and outs of IT or EdTech. There are a number of extremely cost-effective and flexible training programs available to help these individuals get up to speed quickly (the ATLIS Leadership Institute is a great option). In addition, there is a strong culture of mentorship in the Independent School technology space.
Utilize Augmented Staffing Services: An increasingly popular alternative to hiring employees to service a school's IT or Educational Technology needs is flexible augmented staffing services. Many of these services are designed to fill the gaps for small schools that cannot afford full-time talent to cover all areas of an IT program (IT Director, Database Administrator, Educational Technology Integrator, Project Manager, Network Engineer, and HelpDesk) and for medium and large schools that need more support than the current staffing structure can offer. Not all Augmented IT Staffing companies are created equal. Be sure to find a company that has a strong or exclusive focus on K12 schools and that is willing to fit into your culture, meeting & communication structure and has a proven track record of hiring individuals with relevant & current school experience. Educational Collaborators, a national consulting organization of some of the best practitioners in the Independent School K12 EdTech & IT space, offers flexible, proactive, and affordable augmented services in all areas of school IT.
Michael Carson, K12 Solutions and Community Engagement Manager, Educational Collaborators
Michael Carson has been in the field of education for over a decade. Having served in positions from Music Teacher for DC Public Schools to Director of Technology Innovation at McLean School, Michael has explored and gained experience in many areas of K12 education. He is currently K12 Solutions Specialist and Community Engagement Manager for Educational Collaborators, a national consulting organization that helps schools realize their vision for educational technology. Contact Michael at email@example.com