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Education Technology Leadership: Managing IT Concerns Through a Learning Lens

Thursday, September 21, 2017 -- Sean McDonough

District and school technology administrators are asked to wear a lot of hats. These are complex roles, and as technology continues to play a more and more integral role in education, tech admins’ roles not only become increasingly nuanced but also increasingly central. As a tech admin, on any given day, you may be asked to troubleshoot classroom hardware or software issues, evaluate a student data privacy concern, implement a new online program for instruction or student management, or weigh in on a purchasing decision for new mobile devices. In fact, in the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) 2017 K-12 IT Leadership Survey, technology administrators’ top 10 priorities included concerns as diverse as broadband and network capacity, student data privacy and security, wireless access, and mobile learning. It’s clear that technology leaders are juggling many different moving parts and regularly being asked to bridge the (wide) gap between curriculum concerns and IT concerns.

I sympathize—I’ve worked as an technology leader for over 20 years at the school, district, regional, and state department of education levels in Pennsylvania.  I’ve watched mobile devices become indispensable and online programs (along with all of the data they collect) become a daily part of classroom instruction. Since transitioning into my role as Education Technology Consultant here at Edmentum, I’ve had the opportunity to work with technology administrators around the country grappling with similar challenges.

These are complex issues, and there are no well-formulated, thoroughly vetted processes for overcoming them. After all, the only constant when it comes to technology is change. However, it is clear that the days of technology being a nice add-on, a cool concept to think about integrating in the classroom, are gone. Technology is ubiquitous—in careers and day-to-day life—and the question is no longer if but how your school or district is making use of it.

With that in mind, the role of school and district technology administrators isn’t likely to get easier anytime soon, but it is, without a doubt, going to become more important. So, what can individuals in these roles do to juggle multiple expectations and balance the needs of all the stakeholders they’re working with—including other administrators, classroom instructors, school board members, parents, and most importantly, students? In the coming weeks, we’re going to be taking a deep dive into technology implementation best practices from the point of view of technology administrators.

We’ll start with a look at your most common and pressing questions, then move on to the technology features that matter, bridging the divide between your team and the classroom, and finally, the in-the-weeds specifics of how Edmentum’s online programs have been designed with your concerns top of mind. Stay tuned to “geek out” with us about edtech, or get a head start now by taking a look at this blog post on Edtech Evaluation and the 5 Qualities to Look for in a Provider!