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Lack of IT Support Inhibits Student Learning

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   Disconnected wifi, lagging computers, and broken Promethean boards… All of these are problems being faced in the classrooms of UC High. However, no one is there to fix them. Why? Because the District’s IT, or Integrated Technology, Department is heavily understaffed and can’t get to classrooms to fix tech issues fast enough. This is causing a slew of problems, one of which is that it is inhibiting student learning. The district needs to take control of this issue before it forces all of San Diego’s public schools into retrograde.

   The IT Department does so much for the district. Not only do they solve problems such as broken Promethean boards, but according to IT Department Executive Director Torren Allen, “Students and staff will typically see our IT technicians that come to the classroom, but a lot of technical work is also done ‘behind the scenes’ during the day, and many times after hours. This support is in place to ensure our network, applications, and other technology are available for students, teachers, and other employees to access while in the classroom.” Obviously, the IT Department is necessary and they do a great deal for district schools.

   However, as the district cuts down the budget further, they are taking funding from the IT Department, rendering the department unable to reach every problem. This is a major predicament. According to the SDUSD Integrated Technology Division’s website, IT related issues should be responded to in a maximum of ten business days, resolved in sixty. However, some UC High teachers have been waiting for thirty days just to get a response ( AP Art History Teacher Jonathan Schiller, who has been waiting to receive a new lamp for his Promethean Board since February, creatively turned his board into a projector screen and is using an old projector to show visuals, but this still causes issues. “It works, but it takes away from my students when I have to spend ten minutes of class time setting up the projector,” said Schiller. As more boards go out, more teachers are taking the same route as Schiller. This might work, but, as English Teacher Aaron Pores said, “It’s a waste of class time.”

   At the point where teachers are forced to go techie instead of concentrating on the lesson they are trying to teach, one might wonder whether a line has been crossed. In the end, it’s not in the teachers’ job description and therefore shouldn’t be their responsibility. When teachers are forced to spend valuable class time solving problems the district is responsible for, it complicates their jobs — they have to complete more tasks in the same amount of time and under the same salary.

“This is a major problem for both teachers and kids, because there is power behind the use of technology in classrooms. So when it’s gone, you’re handicapped…””

— Principal Jeff Olivero

   Furthermore, the loss of Promethean Boards is actively deteriorating student performance. As noted by English Teacher Jennifer Huszar, “My board went out three days ago, and I have already noticed inhibited learning and behavioral issues.” Huszar, who also teaches students with special needs, requires her board to reiterate classroom directions and assignments. Clearly, the district needs to do something to fix this issue.

   The district is aware of this problem, and have said they are trying their best to solve it. Area Superintendent Lamont Jackson said, “As we get feedback, we’ll take action and see progress. We’re trying to solve the problem, but that doesn’t mean it won’t go away or not exist in the future.” Principal Jeff Olivero added, “This is a major problem for both teachers and kids, because there is power behind the use of technology in classrooms. So when it’s gone, you’re handicapped. There’s a balance. Twelve classrooms just got new computers, so we’re supporting this new technology. But on the flip side, teachers can’t project onto their boards. So, we need it to level out.” Sure, new technology is great, and we’re thankful to have it, but when the old technology doesn’t work, we can’t really be happy about it because the struggle is still there. The district should be doing everything it can to prevent this in the future as it greatly impairs student learning.

   According to Allen, “The IT Dept. receives and supports approximately 50,000 HelpDesk technical support calls per year. For context, as of April 4, UC High has reported 306 HelpDesk calls this school year.” For something of this magnitude, something needs to be done.

   We, the editors of the UCHS Commander, implore the the district to resolve this problem for the sake of the students. The students deserve to have an hour filled with learning, not 40 minutes of education and 20 minutes of figuring out technology.

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Lack of IT Support Inhibits Student Learning