May 12 2008

Predicting the Future

Six new CoSN monographs tackle IT issues.

In the next five years, it’s virtually certain that the amount of technology in your school will increase. The changes might range from a greater reliance on Web 2.0 tools to starting a one-to-one program — or they might land somewhere in between.

Despite expanding technology demands, many schools will face this surge with the same number of IT workers. How can an IT administrator manage new tools and new technologies without new staff?

This is just one of the big questions answered in the most recent Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) Compendium. The 2008 publication is a collection of six monographs that explore timely issues in K–12 education today.

The dilemma posed above is addressed in The District CTO in Year 2012. This monograph includes recent articles on the evolving role of school CIOs and CTOs (chief technology officers), leadership tips for district CTOs, and an examination of the benefits and pitfalls of technology centralization.

“In a time-pressured world, it’s critical to not only look at what’s on your desk, but to look around the curve at the big issues that [district CTOs] need to care about,” says Keith Krueger, CoSN’s CEO.

Other monographs include: Meeting the Needs of the Long Tail Learner; Measuring 21st-Century Skills; Gaining the Competitive Edge: Empowering the 21st-Century Superintendent; Creative Commons and Open Content: What K–12 Schools Need to Know; and Small School Districts: Challenges and Opportunities.

Getting back to a CTO’s future job demands, CoSN finds that a number of experts say tomorrow’s school technology leaders will face fewer technical demands but will need more business or leadership skills. The monograph also discusses the balance a CTO must keep between centralizing and controlling technology within their schools, and the pressure to decentralize and “democratize” school technology.

Krueger adds that 21st-century skills are a key part of several of the group’s reports. “This is a major trend. … [For schools] to simply succeed on high-stakes tests is important, but not sufficient.”

The skills that students need in these global times include collaboration, critical thinking and creativity, he adds.

Krueger, who has traveled to Singapore and Finland recently to study these countries’ education systems, says, “I don’t think any country has figured out [how best to educate today’s students] totally, but we’re having a very narrow conversation [in the United States]. We better start paying attention to what the big picture is.”