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DAILY INSIGHT: Time for a title change?

Mar 21

Written by:
3/21/2012 3:16 PM  RssIcon

By Carl Hooker, CIO Advisor
 
I recently attended various conferences in different parts of the country. During these events, I’ve discovered that being director of instructional technology means a lot of different things to people but mostly they focus on the last word in that title: technology. I get asked all sorts of questions about switches, ports, access points, bandwidth, throughput, and—my favorite—“What does your backend look like?” 

As flattering as that last comment may seem, I realized quickly it had nothing to do with my posterior. The problem with having technology in my title means that I get questions from both sides of the fence. In some districts, this may be the intended job description for someone in my position, although often they are called CTO. In my case, I want to really focus on the “instructional” word in that title which is not only overlooked, but often left out when I’m introduced. “This is Carl; he’s our tech director.” Imagine my surprise, or better yet, imagine the surprise of our actual technology services director! 

All of these recent events have inspired me to begin the search for a new title. I want it to have some realm in the digital world. It needs to focus on innovation, learning, and instructional design. Alan November suggests all people in my job change our titles to director of learning design. I think he’s on the right track.
 
Seguin ISD in Texas recently hired a director of digital learning. I think we’re getting warmer. Some forward-thinking companies have actually created a chief innovation officer (CINO) who “originates new ideas but also recognizes innovative ideas generated by other people.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chief_innovation_officer)

I love that idea, but think my superiors may decide that requires a pay raise (not a bad idea either) but is not very practical in education. So, taking bits and pieces from all of those, I’ve finally reached a conclusion. All directors of instructional technology should now be referred to as director of innovation and digital learning. While the title may be a tad longer, it takes the focus off technology and really puts it smack dab in the middle of both innovation and learning. With that title we can finally put the focus in the proper place: from our backend to the front of our minds.
 
Carl Hooker is director of instructional technology (soon-to-be-renamed) at Eanes ISD in Texas.
 
This blog is cross posted at Hooked on Innovation

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4 comment(s) so far...


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Re: DAILY INSIGHT: Time for a title change?

I love your post. I went through a similar thought process last year and with much thought, research and consultation, I settled on Director of Curricular Technology. Trying hard to emphasize the curricular aspect of what I do and less on the tech.

After reading your post, I am wondering if I need a third title change in as many years.

Thanks for the thoughtful post!

By Tony Tepedino on   3/22/2012 6:56 PM
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Re: DAILY INSIGHT: Time for a title change?

Not only are titles often inaccurate, misleading or irrelevant, but the actual functions of people with the same titles (technology coordinator, IT Manager, Director of Technology, etc.) are often remarkably different. For progressive school districts with a clear focus on technology as an integral component of day-to-day learning, the moniker "director of digital learning" makes some sense. However, some districts still see people in these positions more or less as technical people, one that has little to do with what happens in classrooms other than issues concerning connectivity and the operation and maintenance of computers. District size is relevant too - if a district is large enough to have dedicated technical people and a person that can effectively bridge the gap between IT operations and curriculum, instruction and learning, that's great. Of course, the critical piece is leadership - if the people that do the hiring and make critical strategic and budget decisions don't "get it," the "tech person" will be just that.

By Jeff Johnson on   3/27/2012 2:47 PM
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Re: DAILY INSIGHT: Time for a title change?

i love this. My thnking exactly.

By Trina Springer on   4/9/2012 9:32 AM
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Re: DAILY INSIGHT: Time for a title change?

My title is Director of Educational Technology. However, I am in a tiny district, so my duties include both sides of the fence; this is not uncommon in small districts. Many of my small-district colleagues conduct professional development, troubleshoot desktop issues, as well as maintain servers, switches, routers and distance education video codecs. In my case, this is due to physical isolation (170 miles to the nearest large city). About 25% of my time is allocated to my second position as CTE director.

In the long run, I have found that my title does not determine the scope of my job, and that an accurate title would be impossible to create.

By Guy Durrant on   4/9/2012 11:16 AM

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