HUMAN-CENTERED TECH SUPPORT
I firmly believe in educational technology that puts people (i.e., the students and teachers) first. What does this mean?
I've often seen others stereotype teachers, particularly older teachers, as being timid around technology. Often this is done with negative connotations: "They just don't want to adapt to the times." "They're just not technologically savvy." "It's just hard for them to understand."
And I can't help but think that the image of technology in schools likely contributes to this stereotype. Teachers may picture the technology department staff in a back office, generally unseen, unless it's to pop in and out of a classroom to address some hardware issue, seemingly disinterested in the teacher's and students' agenda, making teachers feel inadequate by overwhelming them with unfamiliar technology-lingo, before fleeing back into the depths of their office until the next technology glitch summons them out again.
With this cold and somewhat condescending image of the technology department's role in schools, it's no wonder that many teachers are hesitant about technology integration in their classroom, frequently viewing it as more of a threat of invasion from outside, disinterested "techy" folk than as the support role to their instructional agenda that it is supposed to be.
HUMAN-CENTERED TECH SUPPORT
This is why I believe in technology integration with a human face. Years of working in customer service and freelancing (as a web designer and developer) for clients prior to my work in education has taught me the importance of providing technology support with empathy or "a human element."
This means approaching those who need your help with sympathy and understanding, listening to them, empowering them (i.e., having them go through the process of troubleshooting and fixing issues along with you), and never talking above them (i.e., speaking to them in terms they would understand with less esoteric technical jargon). You want those you are offering to support to leave the whole experience feeling good about it (and empowered), because ultimately you want to encourage them to return for more support if they need it.
No good comes from unaddressed technical issues that are left to stew in the dark, and if staff try to avoid a second negative experience associated with seeking tech support, this is often just what happens.
The number of times I’ve experienced teachers apologizing to me for merely asking me to do my job to support them with their tech issues is concerning to me: "Sorry to bother you, Miss Moeller." "Sorry, I couldn't figure it out on my own." "Oh, it's working now. Sorry I wasted your time." And the worst—but sadly all too common—statement: "Sorry, I'm just stupid with this kind of stuff."
Teachers aren't stupid. We don't hire stupid teachers. And the fact that they would so commonly regard themselves in such a way in regards to technology makes a worrisome statement about how we frequently go about our methods of integrating technology and offering technology support to our teachers. It tells a tale of teachers leaving technology support experiences not only with a lack of empowerment, but with almost a sense of embarrassment and shame, which does not bode well for successful technology implementation in the long run.