CTO

K12 Education Information Technology [Graphic] #EduIT

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by Howard Chan @socratech 

There was a time when K12 technology departments were just seen as technical support, district compliance (also known as “control”) and managers of data information. It was the office filled with “geeks” who knew very little about teaching and preferred to speak in bits and bytes. It was often treated as a separate entity responsible for making sure equipment was working properly and data was protected from security breaches. The thought of the technology department making decisions on any academic programs was as far fetch as teachers making decisions on technology infrastructure. How times have changed…

Full Blog Post: Evolving Role of the K12 Technology Department 

When I meet with the wide variety of stakeholders in education, I have always used a version of the following graphic to explain the evolution of technology in education. The team no longer consists of just IT anymore, it includes stakeholders in leadership (academic), teachers, and operations staff. In our world, we translate that to the TAO (Teachers, Admin, Operations).

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Evolving Role of the K12 Technology Department

by Howard Chan @socratech 

There was a time when K12 technology departments were just seen as technical support, district compliance (also known as “control”) and managers of data information. It was the office filled with “geeks” who knew very little about teaching and preferred to speak in bits and bytes. It was often treated as a separate entity responsible for making sure equipment was working properly and data was protected from security breaches. The thought of the technology department making decisions on any academic programs was as far fetch as teachers making decisions on technology infrastructure. How times have changed…

In recent years, those ideas above have quickly merged into what I call Education Information Technology, the concept of blending technology with education to support next generation schools and classrooms. The thought of separate entities are quickly becoming the old model, where nowadays, decisions have to be collaboratively made between academics and technologists. Technology decision makers have a crucial role in evolving the educational model for our schools and districts. With the proliferation of online tools, makerspaces, data dashboards and interactive technologies in the classroom, technology decision makers are dealing with far more implications than firewalls and routers. Not only are network infrastructure considerations critical to support the classrooms, but the instructional tools that teachers are using are leaning towards the technology pendulum at exponential rates.

The tech architecture now has multiple layers to design and evaluate, and requires a more comprehensive systems perspective from our technologists. Technologists are now asked to understand how instructional technologies such as learning management systems, social media sites, 3D printers, and video cameras are integrating with information data systems and network infrastructure. Technologists are now asked to balance a fair acceptable use policy to answer security and safety concerns, while providing teachers and students open access to the Internet and social networks. Technologists are now asked to filter student data points and design integrated systems to provide teachers dashboards of information. Technologists are now asked to evaluate digital tools and online curriculum to make decisions on blended learning models. Technologists are now asked to understand parent, student and teacher needs for end-user devices to support 21st century learning. Technologists are now asked to facilitate professional development and develop a culture around 21st century learning. It almost naturally brings up the question…

Do our technology decision makers need an education background to support the next generation school? From my experience, I have seen some amazing teachers handle all services in the technology department, and I have also seen amazing IT folks with compassion and understanding of educator needs. No matter what spectrum the tech decision makers come from, the head of technology need a new set of skills and framework to tackle the rapidly evolving 21st century learning environment.

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 8.32.02 PMCoSN has established a framework called Essential Skills of the K12 CTO, which provides a comprehensive list of skills the next generation technologists need to be a “viable” decision maker for schools. I was very happy to see a framework parallel to what I have been thinking these past few years and excited to learn more about the program. The framework breaks down into 10 specific skill areas in the three domains of Leadership and Vision, Understanding the Educational Environment, and Managing Technology & Support Resources. Within each category, there are subcategories that CTO and technology decision makers will need to be a successful and critical member of the district/school community. While I am envious that I didn’t come up with this framework, I am excited that my ideas matched with a credible organization’s idea of a successful technologist.