Thirty-four graduate in first course designed specifically for technology officers
Thirty-four local district CTOs, CIOs, and Technology Directors in North Carolina are the first graduates of the new Certified Education Chief Technology Officer (CeCTO) program offered through a partnership between the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, UNC School of Government's Center for Public Technology, and MCNC.
CeCTO is one of the nation's first technology-centered certification programs designed for K-12 Chief Technology Officers and Chief Information Officers whose responsibilities require a broad understanding of management, leadership, and enterprise topics. Joe Freddoso, president and CEO of MCNC, values the effort and investment into the program and said the UNC School of Government put together a compelling curriculum that was nimble enough to take on topics the class wanted to cover during the 10 months of instruction.
The 240-hour course was offered between February and November. Instruction covered enterprise issues, strategic technology planning, communications, project management, emerging trends, risk assessment and management, acquisition management, change management, leadership, security, legal issues, and financial trends. It also featured two key components – one for technology officers and one for superintendents.
Superintendents participated with technology officers to discuss the role of technology and transformational leadership in K-12 education during an instructional session geared specifically to their roles. While technology officers participated in most of the course, it was a requirement that superintendents engage in this session.
Lenoir County Superintendent Terry Cline said CeCTO gave him a chance to see how other school districts in the state are utilizing technology and to share ideas with other superintendents and technology officers on best practices to optimize investments and its use. “It has bettered our district by being able to collaborate with peers and to spend time with our tech director to better understand what his vision is for our district,” he added.
Macon County Superintendant Dan Brigman also highlighted similar benefits of the program mentioned by Cline. “Superintendents have a tendency to get caught up in the day-to-day political demands and operational obligations,” he said. “This program has assisted in terms of subjecting tech directors and superintendents to different ideas that will allocate resources to enhance learning tools to their fullest capability. It was a great opportunity to see the various levels of integration of technology all the way down to the schools.”
The course’s goal was to help establish the core competencies needed for assessing and addressing some of the most critical issues facing IT leaders in school systems today.
Caswell County Schools CIO David Urseche said the program helped him to understand his role better as a leader in the district who must sell a vision to be more efficient and effective with technology infrastructure in order to benefit all students and everyone in the community. Currituck County Tech Director Paul O’Briant agrees and said the program was a good opportunity to take his position to a more professional level and to network with other tech directors in the state since this group rarely gets to meet or be in the same room together. Lastly, Donys-Kaye Merrill of Transylvania County Schools said CeCTO was “absolutely phenomenal” because the program’s model allows participants to be open to new ideas and professional collaboration.
The CeCTO program is a new offering in the nationally-acclaimed Certified Government Chief Information Officers' series, which was pioneered by the UNC School of Government's Center for Public Technology. The CGCIO program started in 2005 and was one of the first of its kind in the nation and has successfully graduated more than 400 public sector IT professionals across the country.
UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology Director Shannon Tufts provided instruction and said the program provides invaluable education and training to help superintendents and technology officers make strategic investments in technologies to enhance students' learning and engagement in their education.
Superintendents and educational technology directors face unique challenges today. As the world becomes an increasingly digital society, the nation’s schools also are entering a new era of accountability. This digital evolution has changed our expectations of school leaders. Technology is an integral component of a 21st century education. This requires district school leaders to possess the knowledge and skills to ensure they are using technology in the most effective and productive ways possible. The CeCTO program was created just for that reason.
When Tufts was asked about doing this course again, she had but one response: Yes!