School CIO Priorities for 2015
For school CIOs the list of priorities is long and ever-growing. With so many pressing issues, CIOs need to focus on some “big fish” that are critical for everything we consider essential to a digital learning environment.
Here’s my high-level view of school CIOs priorities for the New Year:
Infrastructure – There is no substitute for speed. You can “shape” and manage bandwidth usage, but if the pipes aren’t big enough and the network electronics are sub-par, you won’t have the speed students and teachers need. Networks also have to be reliable. They need to be engineered properly and managed expertly. If your school IT staff does not have the expertise, take advantage of the services of your technology vendor partners.
Access - You need to have a strategy and plan in place for ensuring that students, teachers and staff have access to the devices, content, apps and data they need when they need it. Whether it is 1-to-1, BYOD or other strategies, you must consider your goals and whether the strategy will work for your school and community. Also, leverage cloud services wherever you can.
Devices – Having the right device, not just any device, is critical. To suggest that any device will do is a dangerous approach that will lead to missed education opportunities and wasted budget. Students engage in a wide range of activities and tasks throughout the school year. The ideal device for mobile collaboration may not be the ideal device for online assessment. You need to choose the best device for the most demanding and important tasks so that you are positioning your students for success. In my analyst reports Choosing the Right Device for Digital Learning and Don’t Just Refresh, Re-Think Your Device Choice I describe the issues that schools need to consider.
Data – Teachers have always used “data,” but with technology we have the ability to generate, collect, store and analyze data both in volume and frequency like never before. “Learning analytics” is an important new category of applications that CIOs need to become familiar with. Learning analytics will be of interest to a wide variety of district stakeholders and they will be looking to the CIO for guidance. Proceed with caution though because this issue can be fraught with data privacy concerns. In recent months I’ve published two analyst reports addressing this issue; Making Sense of Student Data Privacy and Data Security: The First Step to Protect Student Privacy.
Even though we find our simple mobile apps useful, we still turn to more powerful, robust applications for much of our work. Traditional enterprise applications such as LMS, SIS and ERP (i.e., financial and human resource) are evolving into platforms into which other applications, content and functionalities can be integrated. Productivity platforms such as Microsoft 365 and Google Apps for Education are widely used. Data analytics and “intelligence” are being built into some platforms; for example, a learning platform that can make recommendations to teachers about content, learn apps and more. Increasingly, these platforms are provided via cloud services, which can have a lot of advantages.
Yes, CIOs have a long list of issues to deal with, but by focusing on a few key areas, you can cover a lot of ground and have a significant impact.
*NOTE: The four analyst reports I referred to in the post can all be found at www.k12blueprint.com.
Bob Moore has enjoyed a career of 26 years in education technology. His work has included more than two decades as a CIO in K12 schools and several years as lead strategist for a multi-billion dollar global ed-tech business, as well many years of active leadership in organizations such as CoSN. In 2012 Bob founded RJM Strategies LLC and works with schools and ed-tech business clients as a strategist, advisor and subject matter expert. His life’s work is grounded in his tenacious commitment to vision, innovation, integrity and practicality. Follow Bob on Twitter @BobMEdTech. See Bob's Profile and Connect on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/in/bob-moore-675ba4