Michael Hanson: How he’s taken his district from worst to first in ed tech

When Michael Hanson became superintendent of California’s Fresno Unified School District in 2005, the district was on the verge of a state takeover, and an audit revealed it was the worst in the state in terms of ed-tech use.

Under Hanson’s leadership, Fresno used the results of the audit as a guide for rebuilding its staffing and infrastructure. Using eRate discounts “wisely and systematically,” he said, has allowed the district to deliver a fiber-optic network to its more than 100 buildings.

For guiding a turnaround that has seen Fresno progress from worst in the state to a leader in ed-tech use, Hanson was recognized as a 2012 winner of the Tech-Savvy Superintendent Awards from eSchool Media. He recently sat down with eSchool News Editor Dennis Pierce to discuss his district’s experience and the keys to its success.

Being tech-savvy “is now a requirement of the job” for today’s superintendents, Hanson said, adding that the concept has different meanings for different people.

“I would define a tech-savvy superintendent as doing my job,” he said. “I think my staff would define it as me having information before they do. From a student’s perspective, being tech savvy is simply trying to create opportunities for them. For teachers and principals, it’s putting tools in their hands to [help them] do their jobs in an increasingly difficult set of circumstances. From a parent’s perspective, it means getting access to student information more quickly.”

Watch the full interview with Hanson here:

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