Sometimes the only way to make progress is to leave something behind.
Keith Krueger has a message for school technology directors: It’s time to step up your game.
While innovation has occurred in pockets of American education, Krueger, whose Consortium for School Networking will host its national conference March 11–13 in San Diego, says the strides U.S. schools have made with technology as a tool for learning pale in comparison to those of other nations.
He references the book That Used to Be Us by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman. “The U.S. was always the place for big ideas, for doing things in a bold way, for making big public investments — whether it was our public highway system, land grant investments in universities and colleges during the Civil War, or the GI Bill after World War II,” Krueger says.
By almost any account, big ideas in U.S. schools and elsewhere take root with less frequency these days. “That’s not to say that there is not innovation, but there is not a lot of scalability,” Krueger explains. “If you want to see the really big stuff that’s going on in the world, you go to India, to Brazil, to China.”
Heading in to this year’s conference, Krueger and CoSN have challenged U.S. educators and other stakeholders to reclaim the mantle of innovation that once defined America’s schools.
“This is very much a call to education leaders — to those who are in charge of technology, to policymakers — to say that now is the time,” says Krueger. “If you really want to think about transforming learning, you can’t silo technology into these little buckets.” Today, Krueger says K–12 chief technology officers must be both educator and administrator, capable of leading horizontally across every aspect of an institution to improve teaching and learning.
To move the conversation forward, on Tuesday, CoSN will unveil the results of its first national leadership survey of school chief technology officers. Krueger says the results should help school technology leaders plan for success amid an increasingly rough and, in many ways, underfunded education landscape.
Krueger is optimistic, but not naïve. He knows that stats and big ideas mean little to educators and other stakeholders absent the knowledge and resources to affect change.
Earlier this week, the organization released a new administrator’s guide to mobile learning, a resource for school leaders interested in integrating mobile devices for education, from smartphones to tablets, in the nation’s schools.
The resource, built on a wiki platform to allow users to make suggestions and changes to the document as the conversation about mobile learning in schools evolves over time, covers several areas, from creating a sustainable program that will improve student outcomes to optimizing your school’s technology investment to improving security, and more. The resource leads with an infographic that lays out a step-by-step process for implementing mobile learning in schools.
That process starts where it always has, says Krueger, with effective top-down leadership — if your school hasn’t realized that already, it’s not too late to change.
“Steve Jobs wasn’t trying to create a better record store when he launched iTunes; he was trying to find a better way to deliver music,” explains Krueger. “We need to be about delivering a better learning experience. We need to step back and say, ‘How do we make that more personalized? How do we help kids get to the three Cs: collaboration, critical thinking and creativity?’ This will not happen simply by tweaking the existing system.”
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CoSN CEO Keith Krueger says educators have a “political, moral and economic imperative” to improve the quality of digital inclusion in schools. For more, check out the International Symposium, Monday, March 11 in San Diego (advanced sign up required).