Tech director gets new position title

The start of the school year brought changes for everyone. For Mickey Chavannes, it included a title change from Director of Technology to Director of Instructional Technology. 

However, this new position title didn’t change his responsibilities.

“What ended up happening is there were questions as to what my role was and it was felt that by adding the instructional technology piece on to it, it would help clarify what I was actually hired to do,” Chavannes said.

The old title implied that he was a tech guy and not much else, but this is not the case.

“The role of a director of technology is no longer the one that is sitting in the server closet, but actually there to help teachers with applications to guide students to do a lot more than just sit behind a desk all day.”

The role of a director of technology is no longer the one that is sitting in the server closet

— Mickey Chavannes, Director of Instructional Technology

Chavannes does do some tech help work with his two department coworkers, Jack Wallner, Network Support Specialist, and James Norris, Instructional Technology Support Specialist. However, he spends much of his time working with teachers to bring technology into their classrooms in meaningful ways.

“My role is really to get into the classrooms, and to work with teachers and talk with teachers on the curriculum and instruction side and the integration of technology into the classroom, how to really do it and tools to use to bring them into more of a creation-type mode.

With the start of the school year moving to an online platform, to say Chavannes has been busy would be an understatement. He was attending to his duties at the help desk, where people come to get tech support.

“The first week of school [was] just help desk tickets. [We] had two hundred help desk tickets in the [first] week. And that is supporting families, supporting students, supporting teachers with just making sure their tools are working.”

As the school year progresses, his role will return a little more towards normalcy, with Chavannes having time to step into classrooms and pass along tech-related ideas. 

“Part of this job is collaboration. I know in the past, what I used to do when I’d pop into a classroom, watch what teachers are doing and I would actually be the person kind of sharing that out with everybody, ‘Hey, did you see what this person did? Maybe you could try this as well. Or, here’s an idea for you; I saw this in another classroom.’ It makes it really cool to see ideas expand that way and how teachers can take that idea and make it even better.”

One thing Chavannes says he does not want to see when students return to traditional classroom learning, is that they revert back to using the same learning methods as before. 

“What I don’t want to see is that we slide back into a paper-and-pencil mode. I know sitting on a device all day isn’t good; it isn’t good for anybody. But a little bit of it, integrating it into what when you’re doing a traditional classroom, there are some huge things that we can truly do with it and the benefits of it outweigh the negatives by a lot.”

But beyond just having technology in the classroom, Chavannes wants to see it used to create things that wouldn’t have been possible without it.

Why do you take notes in a Google Doc? Why aren’t you taking notes in a Google Slides presentation?

— Mickey Chavannes, Director of Instructional Technology

“I talk about … a SAMR model. SAMR is substitution, augmentation, modification, redefinition. And what that essentially says is, ‘Am I just substituting paper and pencil and just typing it? … That’s just direct substitution, one product for another. You’re not doing anything unique with it. As opposed to the R model, redefinition, side, on the other extreme, that says you’re using technology to create something that you normally couldn’t have created without these tools.” 

One example of using this model to facilitate effective technology use is note taking.

“Why do you take notes in a Google Doc? Why aren’t you taking notes in a Google Slides presentation? Because there you can add video, you can add images very easily. You can have a whole research toolbar on the side that you can utilize. You can change the shape of the slideshow so it’s more conducive to your own style and your own learning.”