Computer geeks have been on the front lines of online learning since March, when school and college districts across urban and rural California closed to avoid the COVID-19 pandemic. Tech staff are the essential employees who are turning digital classrooms from a pipedream into a working educational system.
By Arti O’Connor, President, Gilroy Federation of
Diana Torres, a paraeducator in the Gilroy Unified School
District, has been instrumental in establishing the STEAM lab and
program at Las Animas Elementary School. I met her several months
ago and was extremely impressed when she showed me the lab — with
a 3-D printer — that she uses to teach students about that form
The Joint Legislative Audit Committee recently approved a motion
by state Sen. Richard Pan, D-Sacramento, to review community
college districts’ long-term strategic plans to upgrade
instructional technology and training. The audit will include a
large college district, a medium-sized one, and a small one as a
cross-section of the state’s 72 districts.
Suleman Ishaque, chair of CFT’s Educational Technology Committee
— who works for the Los Angeles Community College District —
expects the auditor to find that districts have few, if any,
plans for ongoing training, even for employees in charge of
campus information technology networks.
Greg Whaling isn’t the tech geek down the hall that everyone
calls when the wifi goes south. Instead, the Data Communications
Specialist is a guardian of a college computer network,
protecting it against attacks by hackers and misuse by those on
His duties at Pierce College in the San Fernando Valley include
monitoring calls, emails, internet traffic, and surveillance
video from the employer’s information systems. If it happens on
campus, Whaling likely knows about it.
UC Riverside librarian Carla Arbagey says, “Technology is
like air to me.” It is essential in the library, where she
integrates systems and tracks information on more than 3.4
million items. She is the winner of the 2014 Technology New
Leader Award from the California Library Association, and a
self-described “type-A personality” who likes things to be tidy,
organized, and efficient.