NEWS & TRENDS: 7 Changing Responsibilities of the School CIO

Doug Johnson, director of technology in Burnsville-Eagan-Savage (MN) School District, oversees technology for 9,000 students and 1,200 staff members in 17 buildings. His department supports 7,000 student devices and 2,000 devices in labs and on staff desks. He sees the following major shifts in the tech leader role:

  1. A move from internal maintenance, support, and resources to outsourcing.
  2. Working inter-departmentally with curriculum, staff development, public relations, assessment, and strategic planning leaders.
  3. Providing reliable access to school network resources that are available to individual devices in a safe environment, both in and out of school. 
  4. Understanding the “why,” not just the “how,” of new technology in education.
  5. Aggressively addressing data security and privacy issues in schools.
  6. Resolving data systems integration challenges.
  7. Balancing the needs of the “district office” and the classroom.

Johnson believes that perspective and empathy are increasingly critical qualities for effective CIOs, perhaps even more important than hard technology skills or knowledge. The new role of the school CIO is to make sure there’s a realistic balance between the security concerns of the technology department and the goals of the educational program and individual user.