Windows Into Innovation

Windows Into Innovation

Guest post by Dr. Bob Dillon

Picture of Dr. Bob Dillon

Taking on any new role in education creates a significant learning curve. There is culture to understand. There are purchasing procedures to figure out. There are traditions about how to connect with people through meetings and email. There are partnerships to maintain. There are community demands. There are simple things like the wifi passwords and how to log into systems.

These realities multiply significantly in the role of CTO or Director of Technology. In this role, someone steps into a set of interconnected systems based on a series of decisions over years that result in specific, individual demands from each person in the organization. Add the complexity of the modern educational ecosystem, and it is nearly impossible to keep from the new leader not causing friction in the system during the early stages of taking the role. The most basic of question or email requires the leader to ask what exactly is the problem, how have we fixed it in the past, and why do we do things the way we do them.

Stepping into a new technology leadership role can feel like being placed in the center of a messy ball of yarn at best. It is growing more urgent for technology leaders to have the right partners that can provide the right data about systems and structures in an organization. This includes a sense of what hardware and software is being used in the organization. This includes information about printers and other technology peripherals. This includes which members of the organization have access and permissions to various systems. Gathering this information in a way that makes sense and is actionable takes time and requires new leaders to trust and understand the people that support the organization.

In trying to solve these issues at the School District of University City (MO) where I serve as the Director of Innovative Learning, I’ve turned to partners like Catch On that can provide me with some windows into the technology use throughout the district. They allow schools to have the real-time analytics on usage in a variety of areas. This type of partnership, when coupled with some other windows of transparency, can begin to allow district technology leaders to get the traction that they need early in their tenure which prevents a dip in trust in the technology use and implementation as well as promotes a new understand of the systems-level changes and adjustments that need to be made to optimize the learning ecosystem.

The challenges of being a district technology leader are only going to grow at the same time that budget and technology staffing remain on shaky ground, but having the right partnerships can be key to supporting the success of all students and teachers within a district.

Dr. Bob Dillon recently published his fourth book of transforming teaching and learning, The Space: A Guide for Educators. This playbook helps teachers and leaders rethink how our learning spaces support excellent, modern learning. Connect with Bob on Twitter at @ideaguy42