DAILY INSIGHT: Keep those plates spinning

By Diane Doersch, CIO Advisor

I recently posted that I quite possibly have the best job in the world. I am the chief technology & information officer for Green Bay Area Public Schools. While I have only been at the helm a little more than a year, I taught at elementary and middle for 21 years and have now served for five years as a technology director. As somebody who has been in the educational field since 1987, I have seen many ebbs and flows in education, but all my experiences in the classroom and as a leader have helped prepare me for what I do today.

Last weekend, my husband (a computer applications teacher) and I explored Raspberry Pi. For those of you who are thinking that perhaps this is a dessert that needs ice cream on the side, Raspberry Pi is a very simple mini computer that costs about $35. You must load on an operating system and add your own power source, keyboard, and monitor. From that point on, the possibilities are endless. As our district moves to integrate STEM-based education, it is important for our technical team to have an understanding of new items like 3D printers, Makey-Makeys, and Raspberry Pis so we can support them in our classrooms. Our technology integrators can promote them with schools and teachers when they have relevant and practical lessons to accompany them.

Exploring new technologies is just one of the many jobs I do as CTIO. I recently finished our hardware acquisition plan, one of our teams is preparing technology builds at two new schools, our team is working on various stages RFPs for new purchases, and another of our teams is preparing data to go in to our new substitute-calling system and also a new data warehouse. Our central registration team is busy enrolling new families to the school system while our technicians and network managers are upgrading and installing equipment. Sometimes my job reminds me of the plate-spinner act at the circus where I need to make sure that attention is given to each project and team so that they reach their goals and the plates continue to spin. As one item needs another swift spin, I must make sure all other plates are safe so that I can focus on the needed project. Of course, I am always challenged with the question of how processes can be done better as even a novice plate spinner knows that the farther away the poles are from each other the harder it is to keep all tasks in one’s line of sight and duty.

As we move through August, we are in month three of our preparation for the 2014-2015 school year. I think that when you ask anybody in edtech, they will tell you that summer work is the culmination of the whole preceding year’s worth of planning. While exploring Raspberry Pi is very much on my radar right now, so are a gajillion other technology-related items. It’s a huge job and there are many plates to keep in the air. I wish all technology leaders the best as you all work to keep your plates spinning in to the new school year!

Diane W. Doersch is chief technology & information officer at Green Bay Area Public School District in Wisconsin. Follow her on Twitter as @DoerDi.