Technology (Education) Has Changed and so must You

Jeff Mozdzierz, Director of Technology - Field Services at Oakland Schools
Jeff Mozdzierz, Director of Technology - Field Services at Oakland Schools

Jeff Mozdzierz, Director of Technology - Field Services at Oakland Schools

In K-12 education, many feel that not much has changed in the last 100 years. Students still attend school for nine months in Carnegie units from 7 am to 3 pm, two weeks off during the winter or New Year break. However, much has changed when we look inside of those exterior walls. 

Today’s educational technology resembles many of our fortune 500 counterparts with a few exceptions. We often don’t have the same staffing levels, and we aren’t focused on profit centers and business metric, but instead, we focus on instruction and learning metrics. We maintain payroll, HR, and student information systems. We worry  about hacking and cybersecurity (often from inside: 13-year-olds with YouTube and too much free time). So, we roll out new applications and systems yearly and manage fleets of 1000’s of devices, user accounts, remote workers and learners, and so much more. Just like the business world we look to the cloud, SAS, mobility and so much more that has changed in education.

  Our titles should change from CTO, CIO, Director of Technology to CFOA or Chief Future Opportunity Ambassador​  

To be successful in the educational technology environment today, leadership must evolve to reflect our changing world. We are trying to prepare students for their future. Technology, today, has evolved beyond the cables, hardware, and software. Today’s technology leaders need to understand the changing instructional space and models: distance learning, dual enrollment, project learning, eSports team, flexible learning spaces, bring your own device (BYOD) and Minecraft, Fortnite, and Alexa as learning tools. Why? Educators are great at taking a product and redefining a products intended use and transforming it into a student learning tool. As CIOs, we have to take the ‘YES’ and approach to help districts understand the pros and cons to using these new tools with minors.

How would you keep up with it all? It helps to read what your teachers and principals read, attend conferences and workshops they attend, learn to speak their speak and walk their walk. Do building walkthroughs with the district and building leadership. Have your teams observe what actually happens in a classroom? How do students and staff interact with the tools and technology? Do your policies and environment support or hinder how your customers use the tools?

When you head to the nearest Starbucks, do you ever just sit and look around at how the people are working and learning?  Try it one day! What do you see? Tele-workers, conference calls, and people on mobile devices eating up the free wifi. This is the future that  our schools are working to prepare our students for. Communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking are the way we work today. Have you built your environment to support this? It is more than just wifi.

For today’s education CIO to be successful, we need to look to the future and help our leadership prepare for it, while helping our teams to design and support environments for it. You need to be a multi-lingual (education, technology, business, security, facilities, human resources, food services) futurist who can translate trends and hot ideas into student learning opportunities.

Our titles should change from CTO, CIO, Director of Technology to CFOA or Chief Future Opportunity Ambassador. Taking the ‘YES’ and approach may help your educational teams understand today’s complex world of data security, privacy, and networks to better support student learning opportunities. 

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