The Krause Center for Innovation’s Chief Innovation Officer program gives shape to what has been an amorphous, but increasingly necessary, position in forward thinking school districts. Educational institutions are struggling to effectively integrate educational technology in the classroom and often need guidance on how to adopt the new classroom structures and pedagogical practices that such tools can facilitate. The CIO program is a timely response to the broadly acknowledged need to modernize education and it provided me and my fellow cohort members the skills, knowledge, and mindset necessary to become site and district level innovation leaders.

Even though I and most of my cohort came from the education side of EdTech, our instructors emphasized the importance of being able to communicate with “tech” side of EdTech. In my district, like many others, the Information Technology and the Curriculum and Instruction departments often did not communicate well, and this resulted in under/never utilized EdTech resources in the classroom and a lack of shared vision of what a modern classroom should look like. The KCI CIO program envisioned the CIO as someone that bridges this gap to ensure that the hardware, software, and the best instructional practices were implemented in the classroom as a cohesive unit. As someone that has straddled the ITS and Curriculum and Instruction domains for several years, I know it is absolutely essential for a CIO to be able to create and articulate this vision to different stakeholders and departments.

For me, the most rewarding parts of the curriculum were the courses on Networks, Servers, and the various laws and regulations that affect student privacy and data security. Ideally, one of the CIO’s primary duties is to identify and evaluate EdTech hardware and software not just in terms of cost and benefit, but whether or not those tools comply with current state and federal laws, and can function correctly given a district’s/site’s network and server infrastructure. Cautionary tales abound of school districts that invested a lot of money into products that they ultimately couldn’t use owing to insufficient bandwidth or outdated servers. These CIO courses filled in a gap in my knowledge and I have already put them to good use. 

After completing the CIO program, I have a clearer idea of what want to do in my career. I’ve spent the last few months exploring new job opportunities and while researching the current job market, it is clear that schools, districts, and county offices of education, are eager to hire people with a CIO’s skill set. I credit the Krause Center for Innovation’s CIO program for helping me become a vocal and knowledgeable advocate for modernizing education. I highly recommend it to those teachers, instructional coaches, and administrators eager to lead an educational revolution in schools and classrooms!

Matthew Rhyne (@Nada_Land) hails from Lancaster, CA and is a graduate of the Krause Center for Innovation Chief Innovation Officer Program. He is Bionic VP at Esperanza Elementary School, as well as a Google Certified Educator and father of twin boys. In his spare time, Rhyne is an avid bicyclist.

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