It seems just a few years ago that the role of IT in districts was
- Purchase and maintain equipment
- Say no to teacher requests
The CoSN conference last week made clear that IT or Tech is specifically responsible for
- Privacy and security
- Infrastructure and the network
- Device selection
- Implementation and configuration
- Administrative systems
- Tech training and support
- Maintenance of content and systems tools that facilitate teaching and learning
But because tech has become so embedded in all aspects of schools and districts, the CTO/CIO is seen as an integral part of the leadership team that guides district and school vision and then plans and implements. This more expansive role is new, and probably why so many leaders for all aspects of schools and districts attended.
Tom Vander Ark and Lydia Dobyns pointed out what makes this all so complicated in the graphic below:
Ann McMullan’s panel, What Superintendents Want From Their Tech Leaders, noted that
- We want the tech director to have been in the classroom and to have empathy for teachers
- We want them to change the conversation from what tool do you want to what do you want to accomplish and what are the different ways to achieve that
- Tech needs to help us ensure that we align the resources needed for implementation and support with our hardware and software initiatives
- We love when Tech puts procedures in place to make sure we were using what we bought, and if not, that we stop buying it and move on to something more useful
It was also fascinating that there were four sessions on Mindfulness and Happiness, including the concluding keynote.
Shannon Pitcher-Boyea instructed us in mindful communication (and not just from IT Directors) and how constructive communication requires 5 gates:
- Are the words we are about to speak true?
- Are they necessary?
- Will it be beneficial
- Are they kind?
- Is this the right time?
And Neal Pasricha’s closing keynote explored 5 practices, any of which can make your life happier when done daily:
- Nature walks
- Doing things that help others
- Expressing gratitude
- Keeping a Journal
Who would have expected tips like those from an IT conference?
At CoSN, IT leaders learned how to be more expansive in helping the district advance learning effectively and efficiently, communicate in a way that gives dignity to all, and live happily ever after.
One more note. If you're interested in discussing some of the important issues facing schools and districts, take a look at the upcoming (free) discussions on Edchat Interactive.