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Defining the PD roles of the librarian and tech specialist


For school districts that have both school librarians and technology integration specialists, the mutual roles and responsibilities of these positions can be blurred, especially when it comes to teaching and supporting teacher use. Librarians are increasingly using technology to teach IL skills, provide digital resources, and collaborate with classroom teachers on technology-enabled instructional methods. Technology integration specialists are increasingly understanding that just teaching teachers how to use technology and "apps" does not really restructure what happens in school. As these respective roles merge, conflicts may arise.

I am happy to report that in our district, our librarians and tech integrationists truly work as a team. This is one reason* why.

Our strategic road map uses the terms "learning work," "implementation work," and "standard work" to describe the status of initiatives in our district. Learning work deals with pilot projects that will be evaluated for effectiveness. Implementation work is about deploying tested initiatives district-wide. And standard work is what the name suggests - initiatives that have become standard practice and are expected of all teachers in all buildings.

We've found this model to work well in implementing new technologies and teaching strategies as well, especially when helping librarians and tech integrationists determine their PD roles. In our model:

  • Our two district-level tech integration specialists have primary responsibility for the learning work. They work closely with the teaching and learning department to make sure that their initiatives support the larger school goals. They work with individual teachers and buildings on specific initiatives. They assess the effectiveness of those initiatives. For the 2013-14 school year, our 1:1 iPad project at the 7th and 8th grades is an example of learning work.
  • This year the use of Moodle, after two years of piloting in classrooms around the district, is becoming implementation work. The tech integration specialists work with librarians at monthly meetings to make sure the librarians have the skills and understandings needed to teach and support the teachers in their buildings who are starting to use Moodle. I anticipate this area of work will be considered "implementation" for at least another year.
  • Finally, the librarians support all standard work in their buildings. The use of GoogleApps for Education, Smartboard use, and online gradebooks/progress reports are all now standard work in our district. Librarians may offer classes in these areas after school or online, but primarily their PD efforts are one-on-one with teachers who are new to the district, want a refresher, or would like to learn some advanced uses. 

Is it really that clear cut and does everyone actually stay in their own sandbox? Not always, of course, but these general outlines of responsibility help tremendously.  

I've been dealing with and writing about tech "range wars" for a long time. Let's keep working toward a true truce - even partnerships - in all areas of technology use in schools. 

Let me know how your district divides technology responsibilities between integrationists and librarians. Thanks!

* Our professional staff are also just plain great people who put kids and teachers before ego, are open communicators, and genuinely support each other. 

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Reader Comments (7)

I'm curious if your media specialists spend parts of their days as prep-time providers or if they have flexible schedules? Thanks.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

In grades 7-12, the librarians are all flexibly scheduled. In the elementary grades, the librarians have fixed schedules but get an extra daily prep for tech stuff, including working 1:1 with teachers. Works for us.

January 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

What's the approximate amount of time the elementary media people are providing prep time? And, how are the 2 integration people in your district assigned/located?

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

OK, I calculate it like this: How fixed is fixed?

In Mankato Elementary Schools:
2250 contractual minutes teachers must be in buildings each week.
With an average of five 50 minute classes, LMSs meet with children 1250 minutes in fixed schedule each week.
Leaving 1000 minutes per week - 200 minutes per day (3 hours, 20 minutes) non contact time.
Policies and support staff allow individuals and groups to use the library when classes are being held.
Non-scheduled time is “grown” through needs.

The two tech integration specialists are housed in the district tech office (but are rarely there). They work in buildings and with individuals as needed.

We are a district of about 7500 students.

January 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Very helpful. One more question (hopefully this is it!) your Integration people "specialize" that is--does one have an elementary and one a secondary focus? Or some other type of areas that they work in primarily? Subject area etc?

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

One specialist is the online course (Moodle) specialist and the other has responsibility for our require PD for teachers when they get new computers, but they work collaboratively on most projects. No division by grades, geographic boundaries, etc.


January 27, 2014 | Registered CommenterDoug Johnson

Doug, this is a very beneficial article as my district is starting to take on and define these roles. Thank you for sharing this helpful insight!

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterKitty

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