Skills to Look for in Your School’s Director of Technology
Your school’s director of technology should be a skilled individual who can improve and manage your school’s technology use in the classroom and the network infrastructure as a whole. When considering candidates for the job, be sure you know what skills to look for in a technology director. The right skill set can make a significant difference in how well an individual can do the job.
What to Expect from an Effective Director of Technology
To help you understand what skills are necessary for your director of technology to have, it’s helpful to first understand what their roles and responsibilities will be in your school district. You should have clear expectations of what you need from this individual so you require the right skills.
While the specific duties and responsibilities of this position will likely vary depending on your school district’s needs, you can generally expect the director of technology to oversee your district’s technology infrastructure. From planning and purchasing to installations and maintenance, the director may handle the tasks themself or delegate to their team of trained personnel. They ensure educational technology is updated and operating properly and seek new solutions and ways to improve the district’s use of technology.
An effective director of technology will also direct the implementation of new hardware and software to ensure their success district-wide.
Why Is Finding a Skilled Director of Technology Important?
With such a strong dependence on technology in the wake of virtual learning, a skilled director of technology is more important now than ever before. Educational organizations have had to overcome numerous technology barriers on both the learning and teaching ends of education and skilled technology directors are at the center of helping to overcome those challenges. Your director of technology is responsible for ensuring your network systems are efficient — something that’s crucial as students and faculty alike access the network from various locations.
Technology is continuing to provide innovative ways to improve the education system. With the right skills, your technology director will lead your district to groundbreaking new learning and teaching opportunities. An individual who understands the educational environment will be able to provide and manage resources to overcome challenges your district may face.
To effectively use technology in educational settings, you need strong leadership from your director of technology. Your teachers and faculty will be able to provide a more effective learning environment and your students will learn stronger technological fluency to prepare them to become future leaders.
What to Look for in Your School’s Director of Technology
To ensure you’re finding the best candidate for the job, you should seek some specific skills for the director of technology position. In addition to fixing or installing the technology, your tech director should also have strategic skills that enable them to integrate helpful technology to benefit teachers and students: a desire to continue learning, listening and communication skills, problem-solving skills, curiosity, tenacity, leadership skills, collaborative, understanding the educational environment, knowledge of regulations and requirements, and instructional coaching.
Desire to Continue Learning
Technology is a continuously changing industry. As tech updates and evolves, so should your technology director’s knowledge. Someone who has a desire to continue learning about new technology and is willing to set aside preconceived ideas about tech solutions in educational settings will be the most beneficial candidate. You need someone who will seek out new technology and integrations to improve all aspects of a school and the district as a whole.
An ideal tech director is willing to continue their education and learn from others. Staying up-to-date with the tech industry is crucial to ensuring your schools use the most efficient solutions. In addition to learning more about tech solutions and infrastructure, this individual should be willing to learn more about education and how their role can affect the advancement of education in your district.
Listening and Communication Skills
Communication skills are vital for most job positions and you should expect nothing less of your technology director. Technology directors are responsible for communicating the implementation of new resources to teachers and faculty. This may include writing, speaking and presenting. The ideal candidate will be able to effectively communicate across various channels.
Part of communicating includes the ability to share their knowledge in an understandable format. The director of technology should be patient when communicating with veteran faculty members who may feel challenged with new technology and processes.
Another essential aspect of communication is listening. Your tech director needs to listen to faculty and staff to understand their needs and provide practical solutions. If others have suggestions or input, the ideal tech director will listen to that input and consider it when making decisions.
A tech director’s problem-solving skills are two-fold. In one aspect, they should be able to solve operational problems when it comes to software and hardware. For example, they should be able to troubleshoot and take action when the network crashes or help a teacher connect to a projector after their failed attempts.
The other half of problem-solving in this position includes working with teachers, staff and students to understand what works in the classroom and what doesn’t, then applying expertise and industry knowledge to make improvements and provide useful solutions. The technology director should assess the solutions to determine who might benefit from additional changes and where those changes can be made to ensure everyone is successful.
A curious technology director is open to better solutions and new possibilities. They’re willing to try new things to provide effective solutions for your district. Curiosity will drive them to explore different possibilities from anywhere, including outside the educational setting. For example, they may come across tools or solutions that work in other industries and their curiosity will lead them to consider how those technologies could be applied in education. A curious tech director will provide creative solutions and positive outcomes.
Finding a technology director who is tenacious will be extremely beneficial for your students and faculty. Presenting a case for implementing progressive technology in schools can be challenging when districts have limited budgets and are unable to provide adequate training to accompany new technology. Even in tough situations like these, the ideal tech director will take a stand and be willing to push for technological advancements and upgrades in schools.
They’ll make a strong case for investing in potential technological solutions, moving past the traditional way of doing things and how it can affect student achievement and improve teaching capabilities. Look for someone willing to take risks for student outcomes and motivate others to do the same.
Since your technology director is the leader of technologies in your district, it only makes sense that they should have leadership skills. As a leader, this individual should be able to develop a strategic vision and plan for district-wide technology. They should have a plan for what they want to accomplish, where they want to make improvements and how they intend to make that happen.
With inevitable changes to be made, a candidate for this position should display the ability to lead students, teachers and administrators through those changes and rally people to support and carry out the improvement plan.
Part of finding new technological solutions and being able to support and work with others is the ability to collaborate. Collaboration within your school district is essential, as the tech director will likely be leading multiple schools. This creates the need for effective collaboration and teamwork to ensure everyone is on the same page and working together towards the same goals.
In addition to a network within your district, your technology director should have a network of professional relationships outside of the education setting. Collaborating with others in the tech industry gives your director opportunities to find new solutions and people to learn from. An expanded network also means they have more resources to reference for help with new implementations.
Understands the Educational Environment
Technology directors hold roles in any industry that uses and grows with technology, which is nearly every industry today. Like we said earlier, technological knowledge is important for the role, but your ideal candidate will also understand the educational environment and their role within it. For example, someone with knowledge of the technology used in schools and how technology affects teaching and learning can perform the job much more effectively than someone without that understanding.
As schools continue to use remote and hybrid education models, the need for a technology director who understands how to meet teachers’ and students’ needs is essential. Any IT professional can make operations remote, but it takes a special understanding of the educational setting to help students and teachers operate smoothly under these conditions.
Additionally, a strong understanding of technology use in schools enables a tech director to develop innovative teaching and learning methods using new technologies. With an understanding of how students and teachers use various technologies and what the general operations are within a school, the ideal technology director can seek out solutions that will improve educational functions.
Knowledge of Regulations and Requirements
In addition to knowledge of educational settings, an ideal technology director will have knowledge of local, state and federal regulations and requirements as they apply to school systems. For example, the Federal Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA) requires libraries to implement computer filtering software to prevent kids from viewing harmful material like obscenity and pornography. Many states also require internet blocking or filtering in state-funded schools.
Knowledge of these types of laws and regulations ensures the technology director keeps your schools compliant. They’ll also be able to update your current policies to be more effective. For example, students may be issued devices to use for school, so you’ll need a policy stating the level of privacy they have and when administrators are allowed to view content under student accounts. The director of technology can help with monitoring and writing policies.
It’s common for there to be gaps between the IT staff and the teachers and students in the classroom. This can be especially true when implementing new technology. For example, teachers may find it challenging to get a program up and running, so they call IT to fix it for them. The technology director should work to bridge the gap between the classroom and IT. One way of doing this is through instructional coaching.
Tech directors can use instructional coaching as a method for supporting and teaching faculty how to use new technology more effectively. Whether it’s an introduction to new technologies or a workshop for learning new ways to use existing technology in the classroom, teachers will benefit from having assistance from someone who genuinely works to support them.
Other Qualifications to Look for
Skills like the ones listed above ensure that a candidate can perform in the position and has the potential to add something new. In addition to skills like these, your director of technology should be qualified in terms of education, proper training and experience. Here are some specifics to look for to ensure you have the best person for the job:
- Education: A director of technology typically needs a bachelor’s degree in information technology, programming, computer science or a closely related field. Because the director is considered a senior position, you may want to look for an individual with a master’s degree. Depending on the size of your school district, you may want someone who can handle more management responsibilities.
- Training: Training typically comes from formal education courses and job experience. For example, as an individual works entry-level jobs and advances their career, they’ll receive training for various positions they hold that they can then apply to senior-level positions like the director of technology in a school district. On-the-job experience is essential because it shows that the individual was able to apply and build their skills in live situations.
- Certifications: Certifications make a candidate more desirable in the job market. They show that an individual focuses on learning more and bettering themself in the tech industry. They’re also a way for candidates to gain new IT skills. For example, the Computing Technology Industry Association (CompTIA) offers multiple certifications that prepare individuals for things like troubleshooting, technical problems, network security and configuring mobile devices. Be sure to consider what certifications your director of technology has.
While finding the perfect technology director is difficult, especially with such high demand, consider which of these skills and qualifications are absolutely essential to your school district. Even if a candidate is lacking one or two of the skills listed here, see if they’re willing to build them with you.
Implement Technology Solutions With PowerGistics
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