Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Keeps School CTOs Up At Night?

Notes from SxSWedu 2014 Session

Title: What Keeps School CTOs Up At Night

·       Sheryl Abshire, CTO, Calcasieu Parish Public Schools, Lake Charles, LA
·       Donna Williamson, Technology Director, Mountain Brook City Board of Education,  Birmingham, AL
·        Michael Jamerson, Director of Technology, Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp, Columbus, IN
·         Keith Kreuger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

Hear from leading school district CIO/CTOs about the key issues that are shaping the use of technology in the classroom. Learn about key trends—allowing students to bring their own devices to preparing for online tests to bridging learning inside the classroom to the home, and more—that are driving the need for broadband and wireless in education. The session will be of interest to practitioners and policy makers, as well as entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions for pressing needs.
CTO’s top three priorities include:
·         Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
·         Assessment Readiness
·         Broadband Access

After listening to the panelists, it was clear that all worry about internet access. CoSN reported that a majority of school aren’t network ready and that 99% of districts will need additional internet bandwidth and connectivity in the next 3 months. Jamerson stated, "It costs about $2000 per classroom to provide internet access capacity."

In addition, access outside of school is a concern. The panelists reported that less than 50% of families have high speed internet access at home.

I think Donna Williamson said it best when she stated that what keeps her up at night is “The rate in which everything is changing and the ability to keep up with it.” She mentioned everything from data security, cyberbullying, online curriculum to internet access. In regards to data security, developing policies and procedures and communicating those to parents is a challenge.  Protecting student data starts with educating teachers on how to protect data the right way. It doesn't mean limiting access.

How can a CTO balance all the resources while keeping the data secure?

Abshire stated, “Our role (as a CTO) is to say yes and figure out how we can do it. It’s better to say yes and, rather than yes but.”

Keith Kreuger, CEO of CoSN, gave an overview of items to be on the lookout for, which include:
·         Cloud Computing
·         Mobile Learning
·         Open Content
·         Learning Analytics
·         3D Printing

COSN has created a new resource that defines the specifications for a district network that can keep up with current and future instructional and learning requirements. The Smart Education Networks by Design (SEND) Guidelines and Checklist are free for download and are located at http://www.cosn.org/focus-areas/it-management/send-smart-education-networks-design. For example, the guidelines recommend four major steps when planning a personalized learning environment, a 1-1 computing environment or a bring-your-own-device program:
1.    Build a scalable network.
2.    Work with the curriculum team to take advantage of curriculum that can be used on computing devices.
3.    Train teachers and administrators at least six months before giving students devices.
4.    Talk with parents, the school board, local government agencies, businesses and elected officials who could assist schools.

In addition, CoSN is creating a Becoming Assessment Ready: Raising the Bar toolkit, which contains steps that schools and districts can take to ensure that their IT is ready to handle online assessments. The toolkit is located online at http://www.cosn.org/focus-areas/it-management/becoming-assessment-ready.


On the horizon is a toolkit about privacy, especially in the cloud computing environment. Data offers the potential to personalize learning, inform instruction and offer real-time feedback to students and teachers, but to reach that potential, educators must understand the legal, as well as the expectations of parents and the community that data is protected from inappropriate usage. 

Ultimately, it is clear that as more computing devices land on campuses, CTOs are trying to keep their networks up to speed so they can handle the increased load.

If you are a technology leader, what keeps you up at night?


Bridging the Digital Divide: BYOD Equity

Notes from SxSWedu 2014 Session

Title: Bridging the Digital Divide: BYOD Equity (#BYODEquity)


·         Sandy Kendall, Georgetown ISD, @EdTechSandyK

·         Jessica Herring, Benton Middle School, @JessicaRae929

·         Tim Clark, Forsyth County Schools, @BYOTNetwork

·         Michael Mills, University of Central Arkansas, @AquiAmigo

Many school districts are encouraging BYOD as a way to address the growing need for technology tools that transform learning experiences, especially for those students who do not have access to personal technology resources. This panel will discuss the implications of the digital divide and will also share specific experiences of how personal technology devices have improved educational equity through proactive district policies, engaging classroom instruction, and community resources.

The session opened with Sandy Kendall explaining the difference between Equality and Equity. Equality is where every student gets the same tool whether they need it or not. Equity is where only the students that need a device get them. The image below is a fantastic visual of the difference.

Dr. Tim Clark shared how his district moved away from an Acceptable Use Policy to Responsible Use Guidelines, which contain 5 guidelines that rely on TRUST. He stated that the Forsyth Digital Equity Task Force, composed of educators, administrators, and community stakeholders was key for gaining support. With BYOD, Tim mentioned that
teachers need to focus on asking great questions, and then have students develop products based on those questions. Rigorous instruction is needed.

Michael Mills shared that BYOD is about a change in teachers’ mentality and administrators’ mentality. He stated, “
It (BYOD) is more than devices and bandwidth, it comes down to teachers and administrators mindset and will." In addition, he mentioned that teachers need to trust their students and many teachers simply don’t.

Jessica Herring shared how she piloted BYOD in her classroom. She mentioned that Engagement Equity is needed, which includes first leveraging the novelty of BYOD and then the utility of BYOD. Establishing equitable and trusting relationships is important. Central Office Administrators and Principals alike, must trust their teachers as well. When asked about classroom management, Jessica stated,”A big part of BYOD classroom management is setting routines for students.”

Sandy Kendall mentioned that more professional development and more opportunities to learn would help teachers with BYOD.BYOD is paradigm shift: A campus support person, that can model and co-plan with teachers, is key to success. Teachers need someone on campus support them though the process. Georgetown ISD’s BYOD resources can be found at http://www.georgetownisd.org/byod. They were adapted from East Central ISD’s BYOT resources.

Overall, I was very impressed with the session and the panelists. They are truly remarkable educators and it was great to hear the perspectives on BYOD from all of them.