For now, DeSantis spends much of his time on the road, visiting classrooms to see if there is other technology that can help teachers during the pandemic and beyond. When the pandemic is over, his priority will be to find appropriate tools to help teachers create digital content, especially more video content.
“We struggle with visual media, and we need to catch up,” he says. “The kids are entering a world where they will increasingly be in front of or behind a camera. We need to start getting them ready for that world.”
DISCOVER: The Logitech C270 HD webcam provides a clear picture for K–12 instruction.
Focusing on the Progress Made Amid the Crisis
Steven Hopper cites his years in the classroom as a special education teacher as giving him a broader perspective for his new job as technology director for the Ames Community School District in Iowa, a role he took on last July. ACSD has eight schools and more than 4,900 students.
“I see things in ones and zeros, but I can also see things in letters and shapes and colors — it helps me contextualize issues,” says Hopper, who has also had stints as a school administrator, technology curriculum coordinator and instructional technology consultant.
ACSD was a one-to-one district before the pandemic, with laptops issued to high school students and Google Chromebooks to those in lower grades. The district also purchased 300 hotspots and distributed them to families with limited or no connectivity. ACSD is holding in-person classes for K–5 students and using a hybrid model for the middle school and high school; 30 to 40 percent of Ames families have chosen to continue learning remotely.
Responding to the pandemic wasn’t easy, but the crisis did produce progress, says Hopper. “I have seen more happen in the past year to further the integration of technology into education than in the last 15 years,” he says. “I’ve seen teachers embrace remote learning who never would have before. I’ve seen courses taught online that no one thought possible. In those ways, the pandemic has moved learning technology forward.”
DIVE DEEPER: Is virtual learning here to stay?
Now ACSD is planning a permanent remote campus, providing an option for remote learning or a blended model with some in-person classes, says Hopper.
“The pandemic has taught us to see problems as a way to innovate,” he says. “I want us to use that model to solve problems and use technology for more student-centered solutions.”
Setting a Gold Standard for Technology Skills
Managing IT, understanding the educational use of technology and demonstrating leadership skills are the three competencies that make for a successful K–12 technology leader, says Krueger.
CoSN has devised a 10-point framework to parse those skills in more detail. In an effort to elevate and standardize school technology expertise, the organization has created a national certification program, the Certified Education Technology Leader. CETL is the first aspirational school technology certification in the world, says Krueger, open only to those with at least four years of educational technology leadership experience.
“It’s not an entry-level certification,” says Krueger. “It’s meant to be a gold standard.”
Read more about the evolving role of IT in remote education at edtechmag.com/k12/RemoteIT.