Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Networks: The Secret Sauce

Indiana is fortunate to have a number of strong networks focused on education technology, and each seems uniquely tuned to a particular audience. Education professionals who put a premium on integrating technology into teaching and learning are likely connected to one of these networks via their favorite acronym. (HECC, ICE, #INeLearn) What's yours? I've frequently said that it is because of the sharing that happens in these networks that Indiana repeatedly makes a strong showing in measures such as National Speak Up and the epic-ed map.

Last week a cohesive group of technology leaders strengthened their network by coming together to learn from one another. The Indiana CTO Council is the state affiliate of Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) and primarily consists of Chief Technology Officers and Directors of Technology. If you hold the decision making seat for technology in your district, this is a great group to connect with. At both the state and national level, this organization is focused on professionalizing the field and strengthening the edtech decision-making process.

Their spring conference included a keynote by State Superintendent Ritz, a team award presented to East Noble leaders, and a number of sessions ranging from social media to data analytics. I teamed up with Brad Fischer of Danville to facilitate discussions about what makes 1:1 or BYOD initiatives successful, and Brad's questioning uncovered some of the key ingredients that make up the "secret sauce."

From discussions with these experienced participants, it was clear that knowing why you are implementing technology is the piece of the puzzle you should start with. Also high on the list is establishing a strong team and distributing leadership in a way that allows them each to own the initiative. This goes hand in hand with a culture where everyone is on the same page about goals and expectations. Another piece of the recipe for success is a strategic focus that will indicate what you should do, as well as what you should avoid. And it probably goes without saying that you won't make it far if professional development isn't a part of your plan. That's the recipe we came up with. Drop us a comment and let us know what you think the 'secret sauce' is!

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