The district technology leader must understand the business of education, apply technical knowledge, be aware and ready to implement emerging technologies, and be the district-level leader a district needs. The district technology leader can be and should be a significant strategic educational leader rather than just the chief technician.
Technology has the capabilities of changing education and personalizing it for each student. Currently most schools hold down technology’s strong attributes by implementing it for existing practices, like showing overheads or teaching word processing. They call it a “tool” or speak of integrating technology.
This vocabulary indicates that districts should treat it differently from typical school practices. Interesting how schools never describe books, curriculum materials, busses or even lunch as a “tools.” The term integration suggests that hardware and software do not belong in classrooms and that we must commit some special action to make them part of learning. I suggest that schools that have these mental constructs could be better spending their taxpayers money.
Education technology focuses on results, on student learning, and on accomplishments. It’s not about the latest gadgets or software. How can we help students learn, work together, and join the “new normal?”
The digital district, that is on the horizon, provides a myriad of learning opportunities for students through the Internet. Cloud computing removes the technology upgrade cycle from the district’s work basket. The digital district will focus on a strong infrastructure for students to use their personal devices. This includes wireless and wired access, along with locations for students to charge their batteries. Additionally, digital content is becoming available through open education resources initiatives, from low-cost consortium memberships to that purchased from content providers.
While the anvil of NCLB hangs over all school districts, the long-promoted promises of technology can make a difference in the development of all students.