30 K–12 IT Influencers Worth a Follow in 2020
There’s no denying that 2020 has been a challenging year for teachers, administrators, students and their families. The coronavirus pandemic threw several curveballs at our nation’s schools and education systems, pushing many educators to teach and work together remotely for the first time.
Despite the hardships this year has brought on, educators were quick to adapt. They worked tirelessly to continue learning for millions of children online without forgoing authentic relationships and community. They embraced the power of technology and learned to use digital tools — from collaboration platforms to the cloud — in ways that support inclusive, innovative and secure learning experiences for their students.
But it’s clear that there’s still a lot for educators to learn, especially as they likely will rely heavily on technology beyond this school year. To stay agile in a rapidly evolving world, schools and districts will need to be on top of the latest ed tech trends and offerings, even more than they were before the pandemic.
To help, EdTech has compiled a list of influencers who are using social and digital media to inform, engage and even entertain those in the education space. Below are 30 of the savviest K–12 IT leaders, bloggers, podcasters and social media personalities you should be following right now. If you're on the list, spread the news and don't forget to grab our influencer images for your social media pages or websites.
Adam Juarez is a technology integration coach for grades six to 12 at Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District in California. He leads teachers in implementing technology in their lessons through one-on-one coaching, demonstrations and professional development. Through his website, podcast and Twitter account, Juarez shares step-by-step advice on using various tools, from Zoom to Google apps.
Adam Phyall is the director of technology and media services at Newton County School System in Covington, Ga. He is also a former high school science teacher. On his social media accounts, website and podcast, Phyall shares tech-focused presentation slides and other insights and tips on educational technology.
Andrew Arevalo is a fourth grade teacher and esports director for McCabe Union Elementary School District in El Centro, Calif. Arevalo, also known by the handle “Gameboydrew,” discusses topics of blended learning, the power of play and human-centered design on his website and his Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Amelia Vance oversees the Student Privacy Compass website (formerly FERPA|Sherpa) and reviews applicants to the Student Privacy Pledge. She advises policymakers, academics, companies, school districts and states on child and student privacy law and best practices — information she also shares on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Ari Flewelling is a K–12 education strategist for CDW•G. She specializes in pedagogy-first technology integration to enhance practice and student achievement. Throughout her work, she ensures technology is implemented equitably to provide all students access and opportunity.
Carla Jefferson co-hosts a podcast about educational technology in the Darlington County (S.C.) School District, where she is an instructional technology coordinator. She also is the director of the Darlington County Virtual Academy.
Christopher Bugaj is an inclusive design facilitator, an author and a founding member of the assistive technology team for Loudoun County (Va.) Public Schools. He co-hosts the Talking With Tech podcast, which focuses on augmentative and alternative communication. On social media, Bugaj shares information and advice about making educational experiences accessible to all students. He and his wife have also teamed up to create Night Light Stories, a podcast of original stories for children.
David Chan is the instructional technology director at Evanston Township High School in Illinois and the project lead of his district’s one-to-one digital learning initiative. He’s also a Google for Education certified innovator and trainer and regularly presents at educational technology conferences. Follow him on Twitter to stay in the know on all the latest ed tech trends — especially for Google’s products.
Superintendent David Miyashiro led Cajon Valley Union School District’s seamless transition to the digital age. His Twitter account and the California district’s YouTube channel show examples of educators using educational technology in creative ways.
Desiree Alexander, an award-winning educator with multiple degrees, is the founder and CEO of Educator Alexander Consulting. She’s also the North Louisiana regional director for the Associated Professional Educators of Louisiana. Through her blog, social media and YouTube channel, Alexander shares ed tech tips to empower educators.
Esther Park is a high school teacher of English for Speakers of Other Languages who is passionate about integrating technology to provide equitable access to quality instruction for all learners. Through her social media accounts and YouTube channel, she shares instructional resources and tech tutorials to empower educators and students to become global citizens.
Gregory Bagby is the coordinator of instructional technology for Hamilton County (Tenn.) Schools and a professional learning specialist for the Northwest Council for Computer Education. Bagby, a former principal, discusses educational technology on social media accounts and co-moderates #EdTechChat and #TnEdChat on Twitter.
Jake Miller is a technology integration specialist for Orange City School District in Ohio. His podcast focuses on how educators can use technology to meet their goals, address learning standards and solve problems in the classroom. He also posts helpful how-to videos on his YouTube channel.
Jason Osborne is the chief innovation officer for Ector County (Texas) Independent School District. On his social media, Osborne shares his passion for providing novel opportunities for students and teachers through STEM methodology, research and engaging postsecondary partnerships. In 2013, President Obama honored Osborne as a White House Champion of Change for his dedication to increasing public engagement in science and science literacy.
Jennifer Williams is a professor at Saint Leo University in Florida, co-founder of TeachSDGs and Take Action Global and the president of ISTE’s Education Leaders Professional Learning Network. As an educator and author of the ISTE book, Teach Boldly: Using Edtech for Social Good, she champions teachers to use educational technology for the benefit of people and the planet. Connect with her on social media to get a daily dose of ed tech inspiration.
A rising star in STEM education and advocacy, Justin Shaifer is a popular-science communicator with a talent for understanding and inspiring Generation Z students. He founded Fascinate, a nonprofit that partners with organizations such as Microsoft and Google to get under-represented students excited about STEM careers. He’s also known for The Magic Cool Bus and his TEDx talk, “How to Speak Generation Z,” and he is the host of EscapeLab, a live science show on Twitch. He also creates animated YouTube videos that demystify STEM concepts for urban students.
After working as an educator for over 20 years, Ken Shelton is now a professional keynote speaker and educational technology strategist. Through his social media and The Liberated Educator podcast, Shelton engages educators in learning about digital equity, anti-bias/anti-racism, multimedia literacy, instructional design and more.
Kristina Ishmael is an educator, learner, advocate and agent of change. Currently, she is the director of primary and secondary education at the nonprofit Open Education Global. Through her work and social media accounts, Kristina shares best practices for creating inclusive and representative digital learning resources.
Kyle Pace is the instructional technology director at Lee’s Summit R-7 School District in Missouri. He is also the founder of EdCamp KC, an “unconference” for educators.
With his blog and Twitter account, veteran educator Matt Hiefield spotlights issues related to digital equity and homework, and the solutions to consider.
Matthew Lynch, a writer, activist and former university dean, uses his online publication, The Tech Edvocate, to share the latest ed tech news in the P–20 education sector. He also has a podcast called The Edvocate, which is dedicated to conversations about equity, reform and innovation in education.
Melissa Lim is a technology integration specialist for Portland Public Schools in Oregon. She works collaboratively with her school community — in both leadership and classroom settings — to support professional learning and the integration of technology and curriculum in her district. She’s also the co-founder of EdcampPDX and co-organizes events such as EdTech Women Portland. She shares tips for how educators can reimagine education with technology through her social media and website.
When she’s not working as a technology specialist for Ladue School District in St. Louis, Mo., Patricia Brown, aka Ms. EdTechie, helps educators create meaningful tech interactions and address the digital divide by sharing practical techniques through her blog, social media and speaking engagements.
Randy Ziegenfuss is superintendent of the Salisbury Township School District in Pennsylvania. In his blog posts and podcasts, Ziegenfuss explores how to shift the K–12 school system to be more learner centered, learner friendly and responsive to today’s ever-changing, technology-rich world.
Shawn Beard, known to his followers as The Techy Coach, is executive director of curriculum at Sand Springs Public Schools in Oklahoma. Through his website and social media accounts, Beard shares tech tips and best practices learned over the years as a teacher, administrator and Google certified trainer.
Sarah-Jane Thomas is a regional tech coordinator at Prince George’s County Public Schools and affiliate faculty at Loyola University in Maryland. She is the founder of EduMatch, a project that empowers educators to make global connections across common areas of interest. She also is a co-author of the ISTE book series on digital equity strategies, Closing the Gap.
Sheldon Eakins, director of special education at Shoshone-Bannock School District in Fort Hall, Idaho, has a passion for helping educators accomplish equitable practices in their schools. He’s the founder of the Leading Equity Center and host of the Leading Equity Podcast, which features interviews and stories from voices of equity in education today. Listeners can learn strategies to ensure all students have access to what they need to be successful — including technology.
Sonal Patel is a digital learning innovation coordinator for San Bernardino County (Calif.) Superintendent of Schools. She provides professional learning opportunities to increase teacher capacity in blended learning pedagogy and supports teachers and administrators in several areas, such as digital citizenship and using Google and Microsoft tools for education. She uses her blog and social media to share innovative ed tech tips and collaborate with other professionals in her field.
Sophia Mendoza is director of the Instructional Technology Initiative for the Los Angeles Unified School District, the nation’s second-largest school district. Through this role, she oversees the implementation of computer science education and digital citizenship programs across LAUSD’s 1,300 schools. Her work has been recognized by the Center for Digital Education, the Learning Counsel and other educational organizations, including as CoSN and ISTE. Follow her to learn more about how to expand instructional technology opportunities for all students.
Vernon Wright is an entrepreneur, speaker, life coach and consultant. He has more than 15 years of experience in education working in large, urban school districts, and has worked as a teacher, teacher leader, campus leadership team member and in district-level support. He uses a combination of insight, storytelling, experience and humor to reach audiences around the world through social media and the Global EdTech Academy sponsored by Microsoft EDU and CUE.