Technology Applications: Maintenance and Support


Installed technology needs ongoing maintenance and support, or it will not remain functional for long. As technology has become embedded in the school setting, schools and districts have had to come up with systems to support it, and have had to create support roles and find people to fill them. This chapter provides rules and guidelines for assessing the systems that support technology use.

It is a challenge to assess the status of maintenance and support mechanisms and people because the alternatives are so varied. In the early stages of implementation of technology in schools, the need for maintenance is often unanticipated. Volunteers are pressed into service, or teachers with an interest in technology are assigned support roles in addition to their other obligations. Such systems and roles are difficult to sustain. It is a hallmark of the institutionalization of technology that more formal systems for maintenance and support have been established.

Current trends in support for technology systems include the establishment of more formal technology support structures, often using helpdesk software to track requests for support and responses; at the other extreme of the spectrum, trends include the incorporation of students in middle and secondary school as sources of technical help and outsourcing to nonschool persons or entities, either on a volunteer or more formal contract basis. It is worth emphasizing that in the latter situation, as with any situation in which work products depend on persons not under the control of the organization, proper documentation is an essential requirement and should be made an explicit part of any outsourcing contract or agreement.

Much of the information that a school or district needs to assess the status of maintenance and support systems can be extracted from a database on inventory and maintenance of hardware and software. Indicators are provided below for measuring both maintenance and support of technology resources in school administrative and instructional settings and for assessing the roles of personnel providing that support to teachers, students, and administrative staff.