METAA & CoSN 2012 CTO Clinic

by Jean Tower

On May 10, 2012 METAA and CoSN held our third annual jointly-hosted CTO Clinic in Massachusetts. The event was a great success – great conversations that I overheard included:

  • people having difficulty choosing between multiple excellent breakout sessions,
  • colleagues from New Hampshire discussing starting a CoSN chapter there,
  • animated follow-up conversations with presenters,
  • powerful demos around all of the sponsor tables, and
  • planning to prep for and sit for the CETL exam.

All great stealth feedback that we can use in our planning for 2013.

William Powers, author of Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age, was the opening keynote speaker. He reminded us all that being hyper-connected 24/7 does not leave us the quiet time to listen to our own voices and to coax our own genius out of ourselves. As educators, it’s important for us to remember to help students discover and listen to their inner voices. 

I learned from Bailey Mitchell that as I prepare for BYOT, I should calculate our bandwidth needs and then to triple that! As the afternoon keynote speaker, Bailey shared the story of Forsyth County’s successes in preparing students for college, career, and life. 

Keith Krueger helped us to understand the skills we need as education technology leaders to reimagine learning that prepares our children for today and tomorrow, not the past. 

Bill Rust had a standing-room-only crowd, learning how to provide “consumers” (students and educators) choice by design rather than default, and he did this in a framework of an entire education ecosystem. 

There were sessions about the CoSN CETL certification, Leading a Flipped Classroom initiative, Implementing Google Apps for Education, Leadership for Mobile Learning, Making the Print to Digital Transition, and Policies and Procedures – Balancing Learning Opportunities and Security. Many of these sessions involved multiple presenters, moderators, and facilitators and I want to thank all of my colleagues who stepped up and shared their time and their expertise. It does “take a village.” 

Below are my remarks, as I welcomed attendees.

Welcome to our School Technology Leadership/CTO Clinic. My name is Jean Tower and I am the president of METAA, the Massachusetts Educational Technology Administrators Association. I am a member of the CoSN board and am excited to share the news with you that I am the chair elect of CoSN. I share this with you because it gives me the opportunity to tell you why. It’s a big commitment, but one I willingly take on. It’s because I’m dedicated to the organization that, for school technology leaders, is our professional home. METAA is the state chapter of CoSN, the Consortium for School Networking. Together, we are hosting this CTO Clinic, whose theme is Ubiquitous Computing.

METAA is your organization – METAA represents technology leaders in schools, known by many titles – Technology Coordinator, Technology Director, CIO, and CTO to name a few. Regardless of your official title, the Massachusetts organization that provides resources and professional development and advocacy targeted to YOU is METAA. And a big part of our ability to do that is our close alliance with CoSN, as a state chapter.

I would like to recognize the many people who helped to realize this vibrant event.

First, we have several invited guests and national colleagues here with us today.

Keith Krueger, the Chief Executive Officer of CoSN

Kevin Wesolowski, Director of Membership & Chapters for CoSN

Bill Rust, Research Director for Gartner

Bailey Mitchell, Chief Technology Officer, Forsyth County Schools in Georgia, and chair of the CoSN board

And, William Powers, author of Hamlet’s BlackBerry: A Practical Philosophy for Building a Good Life in the Digital Age. We’ll be hearing from Bill shortly.

In addition to the invited guests, are the many hard workers who put in countless hours of planning for this conference. Please stand and wave as I mention your name so people can find you during the day to ask you about METAA.

 First, I’d like to thank two METAA board members who served as conference co-chairs with me for the second year in a row – Michael Minihane and Theresa Jay. They are also professional development co-chairs and Mike is the secretary of the board.

Fellow board members who all make contributions to the organization all year long, in many ways, and who all helped to make today possible are:

 Gail Callahan, vice-president

Ted Dubsky, Treasurer

Tom Barnes

Eric Bouvier

Wendy Haskell  

Kathy Martin

Bill Milot

James Panopoulos

Michael Purdy

Annamaria Schrimpf

Kevin Warenda

 Thank you to all of these dedicated colleagues, and to the COSN staff back in Washington who were not able to attend today, but who helped with this event.

Our roles in schools have evolved over the years. I remember the days when we ran every cable, carried the punch-down tool in our pockets, and had to convince people to “try” email. Now, our schools depend on technology and the networks we maintain – to teach and communicate, to schedule our schools, to run the heating and cooling systems, to create our bus routes, to take attendance, and so much more – all systems converge in technology. Technology is the new utility – when people flip the light switch, they don’t wonder if the lights will work today – they depend on them to work.

And in addition to “managing” all that technology – we lead. We lead the way toward change and innovation. As change agents in our schools, one of the things we do is we narrate a story of change – we describe what’s possible.

We are also constantly teaching – providing professional development & just-in-time support, coaching, tutoring, and team-building; cajoling, nudging and advocating. But where do we go to get our professional development? Who do we turn to when we’re getting depleted? We turn to METAA & CoSN, and we turn to each other. We come to events like this to rejuvenate and to build our own skills. Remember the last time you flew somewhere? (Someplace warm and sunny, I hope.) The flight attendant told you that in the event of an emergency you should put your own oxygen mask on before trying to help others, right? Well, today is the professional development equivalent of the oxygen mask. Staying current and informed is a critical aspect of what we do. We need to take care of our own professional development in order to help others and to remain effective. At the end of the day today, we should all leave here a little bit replenished – with some money in the knowledge bank; something stashed away in the leadership bank; and some reserve funds in the strategy bank.

Our banks will be replenished through our keynote speakers who will inspire and motivate; by innovative practitioners who will share their wisdom and expertise; and by sponsors and partners who will update us about the latest products and services. But the CTO Clinic is about more than the presenters. It’s about you – the attendees. I’d like to suggest that you will get the most out of the clinic, if you make sure to take time to network and chat with your colleagues. Sometimes, we remember for years something that a keynote speaker said – but it is often that snippet of conversation in the hall, or the connection you make at lunch, that constitutes that serendipitous take-away that you will use the very next day, back at your office.

Now, I’d like to introduce Keith Krueger, the CEO of CoSN. Keith serves on many Advisory Boards and has a global reputation as a key thought leader. He has organized senior level U.S. delegations to visit Australia, Asia, Europe and South America to examine best practices in technology in education. Please join me in welcoming Keith Krueger to the stage.

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