School & District Management

Broader Role Outlined for District Ed-Tech Leaders

Teaching and Learning Innovations Emphasized
By Kathleen Kennedy Manzo — December 01, 2009 2 min read
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Includes updates and/or revisions.

Reflecting the expanding responsibilities of technology directors and heightened demand for schools to build students’ 21st-century skills, the Consortium for School Networking has updated its framework detailing how chief technology officers, or CTOs, can become educational leaders in their districts.

The revised “Framework of Essential Skills of the K-12 Chief Technology Officer,” released last week, comes as education leaders are increasingly looking to digital tools to improve teaching and learning. The new document by the Washington-based consortium, known as CoSN, outlines recommendations for professional development for chief technology officers and could eventually provide the basis for certification for those in the field, consortium officials write in the introduction to the framework.

“In most school districts, technology is not evaluated from an enterprise perspective in terms of improving and innovating learning,” the document states. “CoSN believes we must equip district technology leaders to create compelling learning environments and empower them with the range of skills and abilities needed to position them as educational leaders—not just technology leaders—that provide the vision for the role technology can play in innovation.”

An updated blueprint for district technology directors aims to increase their effectiveness as educational leaders.


Source: Consortium for School Networking

CoSN developed its initial framework in 2001. The latest update was developed by a task force and a certification committee to reflect the evolving role of technology experts in school districts, according to Keith R. Krueger, CoSN’s CEO.

“As the role of technology in education has progressed from a supplemental component of the educational environment to an essential, critical element, so too have the responsibilities of district-level technology leaders changed,” the new framework states. “These leaders are now responsible for technology that is increasingly complex, greater in number and scope, and ever more integrated into the daily instructional and administrative routines of today’s school districts.”

Necessary Skills

The document highlights four sets of skills deemed necessary for effective ed-tech leaders. The four categories are leadership and vision, which includes strategic planning and policy development; understanding of the educational environment, including the district’s instructional focus and professional-development needs; management of technology and support resources, which addresses the business side of educational technology and the use of data; and core values and skills, which include being flexible and adaptable, results-oriented, and innovative.

The document can be used to help make the case to administrators for viewing technology directors as part of school districts’ academic leadership, said Bailey F. Mitchell, the chief of technology and information for the 32,000-student Forsyth County, Ga., district and a co-chair of the framework task force.

“I’ve used the framework as a way to open up discussions with my superintendent about the role I could play in his work to reach district goals,” he said. “It’s a great way to segue into conversation about what your role should be or could be, as opposed to what are often the perceptions of technology directors as being more operational and not necessarily being strategic.”

A version of this article appeared in the December 09, 2009 edition of Education Week as Framework Outlines Broader District Role for Ed-Tech Leaders


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