Image credit: Ed Tech Magazine
eSchool News shared what a panel of CTOs and educators at ISTE 2016, one of the biggest education conferences in the country, determined how technologies are changing the role of these Chief Technology Officers in school districts:
“Blended learning means flexible learning that caters to learning styles of students,” said Kevin Honeycutt, a technology integration specialist at ESSDACK. “Schools that try to do right by all students, instead of teaching one way, have never left this game. If you’re willing to be flexible to the point of contortionism on behalf of what students need, you’re in that game.”
Open Educational Resources
“The biggest challenge is that too many people still define curriculum by their texts – they buy a curriculum,” said Andrew Chlup, director of application programming and support in Alaska’s Anchorage School District. “Every one of those is a closed ecosystem by default. You’re not allowed to modify or share. Either a district itself starts to promote the Creative Commons, or you start tapping into the amazing resources out there, and it gives people the opportunity to grab it and let you personalize it.”
IT Management and Instructional Leadership
“It’s very difficult to be the expert in everything,” said Susan Bearden, director of IT at Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy in Florida, “I made friends and found mentors, and I learned from them. For CTOs, find that person in the district who is willing to bring you up to speed in the areas where you’re not strong. That struggle between traditional IT operations and the needs of the school–there’s always a tension there. Sometimes you go against traditional IT best practices to help teachers and students. The role of IT has changed tremendously and we need to be cognizant of that.”
Focus on Instructional Goals
“Stop doing Level 1 tech support,” Honeycutt said. “No more learned helplessness. Empower people to [troubleshoot their own IT problems] and take some small stuff off your plate.”
Hiring can make all the difference, too. “It’s important as IT leaders that we recognize what our strengths are, go out and hire people who are good at things we aren’t, and that we’re not intimidated by that,” Bearden said. “It makes your job easier. I don’t think you have to be experts if you have people you can delegate being an expert to, I think of my role as being supportive of these initiatives. I’m not necessarily driving a particular initiative.”
What Is Needed From an IT Director?
“I don’t think the CTO has to have all the answers,” said David Malone, executive director of technology and innovation for the San Francisco Unified School District. “If you make this model where IT has all the answers, you won’t move forward. Let’s decide together, instead of one person trying to steer the ship.”
“Communication between the academic and the technology sides of the house is so critical,” Bearden said. “Anything we can do to improve communication and break down silos needs to be a really important focus for both sides.”
Learn more about ISTE here and come visit GroupLink at ISTE 2017 in San Antonio, Texas.