Classroom Technology Q&A

Why Superintendents Must See Themselves as Ed-Tech Leaders

By Alyson Klein — February 13, 2023 2 min read
Adult male teaching a lecture from desktop PC at computer lab.
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

The role of technology in getting students ready for what comes after high school was a big focus of David Schuler’s work as superintendent of Illinois’ High School District 214, the second largest high school district in the state.

Schuler will now get his biggest opportunity yet to shape how district leaders use tech to reimagine teaching, learning, and workforce development when he steps into the role of executive director of AASA, the School Superintendent’s Association. Schuler replaces Dan Domenech, who led the organization for more than a decade.

Schuler is taking over the organization at a time when school districts poured billions in federal COVID relief cash towards purchasing devices and improving internet connectivity. Teachers are more familiar with technology than ever, but many are also feeling serious tech fatigue.

Education Week recently had a conversation with Schuler on Zoom in which he talked about how technology has changed the job of the superintendent and what kind of support district leaders need to tackle the challenges ahead.

This conversation was edited for brevity and clarity.

David Schuler

How did your role as superintendent evolve because of technological advances?

The role of the superintendent has changed significantly over the course of the past two decades as a result of technological change. From the use of email to devices for all students to the cost of technology hardware and software to the creation of student information systems and learning management systems to cybersecurity, superintendents today must be much more attuned to issues involving technology than ever before.

What are the three biggest ed-tech challenges for district leaders?

I think cybersecurity is a major concern for all superintendents as is the digital access gap. I know I lose sleep over both as so much of our student, personnel, and financial information is online and students not being able to access the internet at home creates a significant inequity for our students and their families. Finally, I think it is imperative to use technology to transform teaching and learning in our nation’s classrooms, not just doing the same thing we’ve always done with the use of technology.

How important is it for district leaders to stay abreast of tech advances, such as artificial intelligence? And how can they keep up with those changes when they already have an awful lot on their plates?

Our nation’s superintendents do have a lot on their plates. That being said, it is critical that we all stay abreast regarding changes in technology. As we prepare our students to enter the workforce upon graduation, we must prepare them to be successful in the technological world in which we live. I am amazed at how superintendents are always looking for additional resources and supports in regards to staying current on the latest developments with technology and I definitely view that as part of our AASA mission.

Not all superintendents see themselves as tech leaders. Is that attitude changing?

It is definitely changing. Even ten years ago, most superintendents, including myself, empowered their CTO with resolving most technology questions and issues. That is not the case today. There are so many concerns related to cybersecurity, data privacy, and digital equity. I don’t know a superintendent who isn’t completely tuned in to the importance technology plays in our school systems.


This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Budget & Finance Webinar
Innovative Funding Models: A Deep Dive into Public-Private Partnerships
Discover how innovative funding models drive educational projects forward. Join us for insights into effective PPP implementation.
Content provided by Follett Learning
Budget & Finance Webinar Staffing Schools After ESSER: What School and District Leaders Need to Know
Join our newsroom for insights on investing in critical student support positions as pandemic funds expire.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Student Achievement Webinar
How can districts build sustainable tutoring models before the money runs out?
District leaders, low on funds, must decide: broad support for all or deep interventions for few? Let's discuss maximizing tutoring resources.
Content provided by Varsity Tutors for Schools

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Classroom Technology Video How Pedagogy Can Catch Up to Artificial Intelligence
Educators need to start considering how AI's capabilities should change what students learn, experts say.
1 min read
052224 EW LeadSym 406 BS
Chris Ferenzi for Education Week
Classroom Technology From Our Research Center The AI Classroom Hype Is All Wrong, Some Educators Say
Amid all the encouragement to try the technology, there are plenty of educators who don’t plan to start.
1 min read
Illustration of a large, sinking iceberg forming the letters "AI" as a business professional stands on the tip of the iceberg that remains above water with his hands on his hips and looking out into the large sea.
Classroom Technology What Worries District Tech Leaders Most About AI? (It’s Not About Teaching)
A new report from the Consortium for School Networking explores district tech leaders' top priorities and challenges.
3 min read
Motherboard image with large "AI" letters with an animated magnifying glass pans in from the left.
Classroom Technology From Our Research Center How Educators Are Using AI to Do Their Jobs
Educators are slowly experimenting with AI tools in a variety of ways, according to EdWeek Research Center survey data.
2 min read
Tight crop of a white computer keyboard with a cyan blue button labeled "AI"