School districts have a new resource to help them define effective leadership in education technology: The Consortium for School Networking (CoSN) has released an updated version of its "Framework of Essential Skills" for K-12 chief technology officers (CTOs).

Unveiled during a Dec. 1 webinar, version 2.0 of the skills framework refreshes the version developed by CoSN’s CTO Council in 2001 to "reflect the current needs and priorities of 21st-century educators," said CoSN chief executive Keith Krueger. The updated framework aims to help answer the question: What must district technology leaders know to be successful?

"Though many education leadership positions are defined by a set of competencies and necessary skills, the concept of education technology leadership is relatively new in many school districts. We undertook this effort to empower CTOs and other educators with the information they need to provide visionary … district technology leadership," Krueger said.

Drawing from sources such as the Baldridge Education Criteria for Performance Excellence, Microsoft’s Professional Leadership Competency Wheel, and the work of Gartner Inc., the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), and many others, the revised framework consists of four groupings of essential skill areas: Leadership and Vision, Understanding the Educational Environment, Managing Technology and Support Resources, and Core Values and Skills.

Here’s a sampling of the many skills listed under each set.

Leadership and Vision

1. Leadership and Vision: CTOs must actively participate with members of the superintendent’s cabinet to create a vision for how technology will support the district’s strategic and operational goals. They also must establish and lead advisory committees that inform and support meaningful and effective uses of technology in support of the district’s strategic goals.

2. Strategic Planning: CTOs must work with key system leaders, people networks (such as math teachers), and departments to identify steps needed to meet strategic goals. They must work with these groups to identify budget and funding mechanisms.

3. Ethics and Policies: CTOs must model and assure adherence to state and federal laws, as well as demonstrate high standards of integrity and professional conduct with consideration for fairness and honesty.

Understanding the Education Environment

1. Instructional Focus and Professional Development: CTOs must plan for and coordinate ongoing, purposeful professional development and must identify and promote how technology can support educational best practices through communication and collaboration with the district instructional leadership.

2. Team Building and Staffing: CTOs must create cross-functional teams for appropriate aspects of the district’s technology program and support cross-functional teams for all aspects of the district’s technology program.

3. Stakeholder focus: CTOs must build buy-in for the vision for the district’s technology program and build relationships with stakeholders.

Managing Technology and Support Resources

1. Information Technology: CTOs must plan all tasks related to technical systems, network infrastructure, and desktop/notebook computer management, as well as implement all tasks related to these groups.

2. Communication Systems: CTOs must direct and coordinate use of eMail, district web sites, web tools, voice-mail systems, and other forms of communication. They must have working knowledge of various communication tools and techniques.

3. Business: CTOs must use their knowledge of funding sources available to the district and appropriately leverage them to meet district and programmatic goals, while also developing and managing budgets, both annually and long-range.

4. Data: CTOs must establish systems and tools for gathering, warehousing, mining, integrating, and reporting data in usable and meaningful ways. They also must maintain these systems.

As for the essential skill set of Core Values and Skills, CoSN has defined five characteristics a CTO should exhibit. The CTO should be a communicator, exhibit courage, be flexible and adaptable, be results-oriented, and be innovative.

CoSN says many people might compare its framework with ISTE’s National Education Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A), which CoSN participated in developing when they originally were conceived. However, while the NETS-A are intended for principals and superintendents, CoSN’s framework focuses on district CTOs and other technology leaders.

"Another way to think about this is that many of the competencies in the framework will support and allow ISTE NETS … to be carried out," the organization explains.

"While the core skills outlined in the framework were largely developed for and by CTOs, all 21st-century educators in leadership positions should take time to review the core competencies and their components," said L.C. (Buster) Evans, superintendent of Georgia’s Forsyth County Schools, during the webinar. "We live in a digital age, and it’s necessary for our students to be technology-literate–which makes CoSN’s new blueprint for successful district technology leadership all the more important."

Links:

Framework of Essential Skills for the K-12 CTO (v2.0)

Consortium for School Networking

ISTE NETS

Note to readers:

Don’t forget to visit the Anytime, Anywhere Professional Development resource center. When teachers are confident in the curriculum they teach, students will become more engaged in lessons and will learn more. Go to: Anytime, Anywhere Professional Development