K12 school districts across the country are navigating uncharted territory this academic year. The shift to remote learning in the spring of 2020 saw the rapid adoption of online learning tools and now, as we head into the eighth month of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools are working out the how-tos of delivering a hybrid learning model.
One K12 IT leader who has already identified some best practices for hybrid learning is Wade Barnes, Executive Director of Infrastructure and Support for DeKalb County Schools in Georgia. Barnes sat down for a one-on-one conversation with EdTech’s Marquita Brown to discuss how schools can delivery a successful hybrid learning experience for both teachers and students.
Barnes started out by sharing that “an IT administrator should be the ultimate partner, he says, a “quiet warrior” who supports education.” But he has so much more to share about the essential partnership between educators and IT administrators and how IT administrators help make “human and digital connections inside and outside the classroom.”
We’ve shared part of the interview below, but you can find the whole interview here.
EDTECH: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected the role of a K–12 IT leader?
BARNES: It forces us as leaders to come up with flexible, innovative ideas on how to teach our students. IT leaders must break down interdepartmental silos to have that flexible environment and to provide the platform for our students to learn as effectively in virtual classrooms as they do in the schoolhouse. This is shifting the way the organization thinks about student learning mediums and security now that they’re not in a building.
EDTECH: What infrastructure needs should school districts address before successfully deploying full-scale remote learning?
BARNES: It comes down to the basics. The basic needs right now in this flexible environment — whether in the schoolhouse or in the living room — are to have a device in students’ hands, provide an internet connection and identify key drivers of disparity in the community. Districts also need a robust and secure student information system. Now that you’re expanding your footprint outside of classrooms, consider how students are going to authenticate seamlessly to their student information system and other necessary digital resources.
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