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Question: What do you consider to be the primary role of the CTO in today’s K-12 landscape?

“Specifically, how can this technology help me do my work better?” For me, the central role of any technologist is to find an answer to that question. When you’re a CTO, the issue isn’t just finding out how technology can improve teaching, learning and leading, but actually, how to impact the work of the organization as a whole. So the straight answer is:

The primary role of the CTO in today’s K-12 landscape is to find ways that improve the work of the organization and unleash the power of its members to do more with technology. “Do more” can mean teaching, learning, leading, communicating, collaborating, whatever.

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Depending on one’s background prior to taking the top leadership position, it’s easy to give into the temptation of working from strength. With my background in instructional technology, I’m tempted to want to jump in and “take over” from my own team members. That desire isn’t because the solutions and work they are doing falls short of my vision, but because I just know that my solutions and efforts would yield different results. 

Of course, that’s just self-deluded “baloney!” The solutions any of us have as a CTO coming into a position are based on solutions that have worked in the past. If you’re lucky, you’ll find a solution from your experience that works well, but that’s not what K-12 public schools need now.

This is also true for those of us who have technical backgrounds. We just know that a technical solution will work better than what’s in place. Unfortunately, we may sometimes be right about that for both technical and instructional solutions. However, the role of the CTO isn’t to be right about what works or doesn’t work based on his/her own experiences.

Rather, the job of the CTO is more about managing for results, finding ways that others can build successful experiences developing solutions that work in the now for the organization. It’s also about building bridges and relationships. 

The primary role of the CTO remains that of relationship-builder, encourager, manager, and, “leadership nurturer.” My proudest accomplishments are often not what *I* did, but what the team or individuals managed to accomplish in spite of my efforts. It is, I find, a bit of a contradictory role.


Note: This is the first of my ruminations on What keeps CTOs up late at night? and a series of questions I swiped from Dr. Kari Rhame Murphy’s panel at #TCEA15 State Conference. Yes, I admit, I have something to say and decided to contribute my thoughts in this way.



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Everything posted on Miguel Guhlin’s blogs/wikis are his personal opinion and do not necessarily represent the views of his employer(s) or its clients. Read Full Disclosure

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