New Leadership for Innovation and School Transformation

In breaking news from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, Superintendent Robert Logan has left Asheville City Schools to join the department. His new title is Associate Superintendent of Innovation and School Transformation.

This is a new position and leads four divisions: Consolidated Assistance, Instructional Technology, the Office of Charter Schools and Professional Development.

This is important news for media coordinators and instructional technology facilitators!

Instructional Technology, the division headed by Frances Bradburn, is no longer under Technology Services. Technology Services, led by Chief Information Officer and Associate Superintendent Peter Asmar, now includes Business Technologies Services, Student Information and Accountability Systems, and Enterprise Program Management Office.

This organizational realignment makes sense. As responsibilities grow, Instructional Technology seemed an odd partner with the likes of Hardware and Software Helpdesk, NC Wise, LEA Connectivity Project, and Architecture Framework.

Technology Services provides for the infrastructure, the foundation upon which 21st schooling can be built. Instructional Technology, on the other hand, deals with the human factor of how the infrastructure can be capitalized for teaching and learning. That “hard row to hoe” determines true progressive reform.

I am encouraged that NCDPI has the wherewithal to support this initiative. I am concerned, though, about many school systems in NC where one person and a small staff wear all the above hats. I know from experience where their priorities and energies go. Through no fault of their own, their stabs at innovation struggle to gain traction.

I will be watching DPI with keen interest to learn how the complimentary departments will support each other in their new working relationships. . . how they will share a common worldview. Their interests and conversations will have to be cooperative, not competitive.

I do find it interesting that at the school system level Instructional Technology is responsible for technology plans, inventory reports, total cost of ownership reports, grant writing, politics, and e-Rate. Our school system has demonstrated ways that those administration / accountability tasks can be streamlined, minimized or offloaded so instructional technology can truly focus on its newly formalized core business of innovation and school transformation.

For those who do not read Tom Hoffman, check out his recent “My Theory of School Reform,” to get the flavor of an unencumbered progressive school reform ideal inspired by technology. Can Technology Services and Instructional Technology find enough common ground to pursue such an ideal?

In an ironic twist, I wrote a tongue-in-cheek entry in October of 2006 called “Associate Supt of Innovation.” It’s about preparing students for jobs not yet created. Just call me soothsayer . . .

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