Andrea Bennett, Executive Director of CITE, speaks to attendees at the 2022 conference.

Dec 09 2022

CITE 2022: Shared Interests Unite the California K–12 IT Community

Education leaders gathered at CITE 2022 for security tips, motivation and innovative ideas.

After years of increasing cyberattacks and staff shortages, worries about the future and feelings of burnout lately have resonated within the K–12 community. Attendees at the 2022 California IT in Education conference were not strangers to these emotions, but these ed tech leaders celebrated the opportunity to reconnect with their peers following the difficulties of the past few years.

CITE 2022 brought educators, administrators and IT leaders from across the state of California together in Long Beach, where they found support through informative sessions.

Sessions were filled with engaged audiences who posed questions to presenters and panelists. Between presentations, the halls of the Long Beach Convention and Entertainment Center swelled with attendees taking selfies and eagerly conversing. And when the fire alarm went off in the middle of Danielle Feinberg’s Nov. 29 keynote, more than one audience member voiced their disappointment in losing the opportunity to learn from Pixar Animation Studios’ visual effects supervisor. However, after the brief interruption, the session resumed.

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An interest in cybersecurity, leaning on peers for support and forging ahead with new innovations seemed to connect the community that came together at this event.

Cyberattacks Spurred Questions and Attendance in CITE 2022 Sessions

Cybersecurity was a popular topic at CITE 2022, with numerous sessions addressing the topic. These sessions were well attended, indicating that conferencegoers were looking for information on security. Audience members in multiple sessions shared questions with experts.

Speakers shared advice on the cybersecurity challenges facing K–12 education in response. In the “Identifying the Risks and Challenges of Cybersecurity” session Nov. 29, an attendee asked if there was a list of breached districts available to the public that could be used for risk assessment.

MORE FROM CITE: Experts share advice on overcoming cybersecurity challenges.

Another audience member recommended the map on the K12 Security Information eXchange website, which shows districts that have reported cyber incidents since 2016.

In an early session Nov. 30, “A Case for Cybersecurity Operations in Education,” Bob Turner, a field CISO for Fortinet, interacted with the audience. He posed questions and asked for questions in response, at one point highlighting Fortinet’s new professional development program.

Comradery Reigned in the Wake of Burnout and Uncertainty

CITE 2022 attendees, including Alex Martin, IT manager at SIATech charter schools, were excited to reconnect in person. They conversed in the hallways between sessions, showed up early for conference breakfasts and stayed late at evening welcome receptions.

The excitement of being together temporarily overshadowed the recent stress brought on by the pandemic and other challenges. “I have open positions I’ve been trying to get filled,” Martin said. “I’m short-staffed, and that’s what my need is right now.”

In a Nov. 29 cybersecurity session, Director of Technology Services Jon Carrino spoke on the burnout affecting K–12 education. He said that the unusually high pandemic-era expectations for IT professionals have become the new standard, and that burnout’s toll is apparent on his staff at William S. Hart Union High School District in Santa Clarita. His message was that no one can excel at any one task when they’re managing so many, and it resonated with the audience.

Conferencegoers banded with their like-minded peers, finding support in sessions such as the “Every Role Is a Starring Role for Women in Technology” panel, where a mixed-gender audience discussed the challenges facing women in tech.

Attendees Sought Innovative Ed Tech Ideas

With educational technology becoming a permanent fixture in schools, IT leaders flocked to sessions on potential tech innovations for their districts. In a full lab, participants joined a “Hands-on Technical Deep Dive into Google Workspace for Education Plus Features and Tools” to learn more about additional features in the Workspace for Education Plus environment.

RELATED: Learn about the newest features in Google Workspace for Education.

Esports sessions were also popular, with Nov. 29’s “California Esports Roundtable” quickly turning into an audience-led Q&A. Doug Konopelko, national esports manager at CDW Education, quickly transitioned from session host to moderator, fielding questions on console differences, stubborn athletic directors and student data privacy.

Attendees were hungry for information on starting or advancing their own esports programs.

Conferencegoers also joined sessions on automation, asking questions of Joshua Hung in “How IT Helps Education Run Smarter” on how to maximize efficiency for small IT teams with digital workflows. In response, Hung, data support specialist at Palo Alto Unified School District, shared the ways his district has optimized various workflows in human resources and student registration.

Visit this page to find all our CITE 2022 conference coverage, and join the conversation on Twitter when you follow @EdTech_K12 and use the hashtag #CITE2022.

Photography by Rebecca Torchia

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