by Annette Quintana, CEO Istonish
COVID-19 has changed the job of Educators to include part-time IT Support staff. Effective teaching has always been a key pivot point to education and our future leaders. Now more than ever our future depends on quality Higher Education. The good news is that Funds from the CARES Act can be spent to increase IT capacity. This article presents three reasons why Teachers should focus on what they do best and leave IT support to technology professionals.
If an Educators’ best value is in teaching students, why would they spend part of their time assisting their students with IT Support issues? The emergency pivot to 100% distance learning caused by COVID-19 created massive disruption. Educators found themselves in the position of using teaching time to provide IT support to overcome new technical issues of long-distance learning. The good news is the CARES Relief Fund can be used to offload IT Support from Educators.
Great educators inspire, inform, guide, challenge and shape the thinking of their students. They also may publish and perform research – activities that enrich their professional credentials, their institutions, and their students.
It matters that educators can do their jobs (in particular during the time of COVID) because there is a correlation between economic health of communities and the education level that students achieve as noted in this report by The Brookings Institute. There is also significant data that correlates the amount of post-secondary education and innovation fueled economic progress. It’s clear that Educator effectiveness is more important than ever to the success of their students.
Approximately $14 Billion was allocated to the CARES Act Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. The IHE must use a minimum of 50% for direct payments to students in the form of emergency financial aid. The other 50% must be used for expenditures incurred due to the pandemic and technology and IT support qualify.
The inspired and motivated teachers I know have said “I teach because I love working with students. I want my students to be successful.” With the added burdens caused by COVID they also have said “The demands of remote teaching are draining and distracting me from doing what I am here to do – teach and inspire my students so they can thrive. If I must keep providing IT support, I’m not sure I will continue teaching”.
These challenges are not likely to go away soon. Complicated by COVID ‘social distancing’ adaptations that may require longer or different hours of work or combined in person and remote teaching at the same time, the strain on Educators is immense. For the school districts and institutions of higher education (IHE’s) the loss of talented Educators is devastating to students, our local economies, and our future.
COVID Social Distancing Guidelines Increase Higher Ed Technology Requirements. Learn more about offloading your support to Istonish.
‘Social distancing’ connected to COVID has forced remote learning. So students’ homes have become their classrooms, and most people’s homes are not set up with the same level of security as we have in the workplace. The overnight shift to distance learning from home has exposed institutions to significant risks of cyber security threats. The door to Malware, Ransom Ware, Phishing, and increased breach of private data, research, valuable intellectual property has been opened. Should any of these breaches occur, there can be serious reputation and financial damage.
In addition, as various institutions work to shore up the gaps, additional protocols require new tools, passwords, two factor authentication or processes for transmitting and accessing encrypted information. Many of the protocols are new to students, educators and administrators and result in a call to the Help Desk or IT Support Team.
My goal is not to criticize the good work done (in record time), to support remote teaching. But for many organizations gaps in bandwidth, tools, security, and processes (to name a few of the issues) were quickly surfaced. The IT Teams that worked tirelessly to shift entire organizations to a new operational model, you are heroes. And for the educators that spent much of their time trying to help students to login, troubleshoot audio issues or figure out why they couldn’t get their homework submitted, you have gone above and beyond the call of duty.
In the emerging ‘new normal’ of COVID 19 Social Distancing Protocols the technical needs have expanded, including increased demand for Help Desk and Cybersecurity management. The CARES Act Higher Education emergency relief funds for education can help offset these costs, and let Educators do what they do best.
A strong, technology framework (meaning a combination of technology, processes, and support) is needed to ensure that information is secure. Educators need to spend their time teaching, doing research or publishing- not doing IT support. When educators do what they love and are hired to do, they will be happier, more stable and reduce costs associated with employee disruption.