Part of the challenge of working in education technology is that technology managers and educators don’t always speak the same language. CTOs also tend to have diverse backgrounds. Some are former teachers who at some point in their careers demonstrated a proclivity for tech and made the leap from the classroom to the technology department. Others come from an IT background and often began their careers in the corporate world.
“When you come from either side you end up with a deficit,” said Pete Just, CTO, Metropolitan School District of Wayne Township. Just was part of a two man panel at CoSN 2015 called “Putting the Ed In My Tech.” Just and Mike Jamerson, director of technology at Bartholomew Consolidated School Corporation, explored this idea in a 55 minute panel session that covered topics spanning the current state of education, K-12 culture and the role of the district tech leader.
One way to solve the knowledge skills gap is to consider a CETL ( Chief Education technology Leader) certification. In other industries it’s common to receive some sort of certification to demonstrate mastery, but that hasn’t been the standard in education technology. As technology shifted from “nice to have,” to integral to the classroom, the job of the district technology leader changed. That’s part of the reason CoSN promotes the CETL certification. Going through the course signals to K-12 leaders that you, as a technology professional, have the skills to define and carry out a vision for 21st century learning in your respective school district.
“There was nothing like that in technology. The waters rose and we all kind of became chiefs of something or coordinators of something or directors of something,” said Just.
The changes the education industry has undergone have altered the role of district technology leaders. They are now more important than ever in shaping the future and the goals of any K-12 district and as such need to be included in key decisions. To be successful at his or her job, a technology leader really needs to serve in a cabinet level position—although that isn’t the case in many districts, which leads to tragic and avoidable mistakes.