Technology for New Administrators

A primer for Lora and Paul’s initial administrator course, fall 2018. (Session led by Rachel Wente-Chaney.)

Part One: Introduction

On your path to education leadership, you’ll encounter technology on a daily basis. I don’t believe you need to become more techie to lead well in this space—I’m in the camp that believes technology should be becoming more human. Those of us who “get technology” understand it’s merely a system for getting something done. When we say the word technology today, we usually mean hardware and software. Centuries ago, it was the printing press, then slates and charcoal pencils (Abraham Lincoln’s childhood), then mimeographs, then overhead projectors. All of these technologies have helped us consume and share information in education. Time continues to roll on and systems evolve quickly….

You will be asked for your vision on how to use technology in support of your staff and students. You need to budget for it. Depending on your role, you may also need to troubleshoot it. You will want to understand the modern technology systems well enough to use them effectively for your own work and learning. And, in my perfect world, you’ll have ideas about things you want to do to expand student learning that technology will be able to support.

In our time together, I want to start with an introduction to technology in our classrooms. The past decade has brought big changes in how we think about and use technology for learning. We’ll talk about the changes and why, in 2018, we’re not going to start our convo with computer labs and doc cameras and which software to buy. (Hint: we’re going to start with things you want to do and then identify support for figuring out the details.)

I want to end with a list of resources and connections. This conversation we’re having in September 2018? It’s going to be outdated soon. As you begin leading vision and planning in the coming years, I hope you’ll be referring back to our conversations and a list of who to reach out to when you have that first set of no-right-answer questions you feel unprepared to answer.

Part Two: Tech in the Classroom

To set the stage for our discussion, watch Michael Wesch‘s video (on the right). This is an oldie-but-goodie viral video that dates waaaayyyy back to 2007. I believe it illustrates the acceleration point for technology in education for our generation. I think this video does the best job of showing the jump we made. Things to think about:

  • Yahoo and Blogger and Flickr were featured (and were the big dogs of the Internet, circa 2007 and Web 2.0). Who are the big dogs now?
  • How do the big dogs affect education, if at all? What are the positive aspects? Negative?
  • Reflect on your personal comfort level with technology. Are you excited about technology challenges you’ll face as an administrator or do they make you want to turn off the internet and keep phones off campus?

With form separated from content, users did not need to know complicated code to upload content to the web. —Michael Wesch

Part Three: Who to Know Online

There are incredible administrators who share and connect online. They tell their stories and stories of their schools, communities, and students. They share resources, opinions, challenges, solutions, and empathy. They sometimes share trash talk about Ducks v Beavers.

You don’t have to become Donald Trump on Twitter (not a political remark; he’s prolific on social media and a good, timely reference) to get value from social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, or the community that catapults to the top next week. Don’t be afraid to lurk online and learn. I’ve added some good follows to get you started. 


The Connected Principals hashtag was started and is led by a small group of school administrators that wants to share best practices in education. The contributors have different experiences in education but all have the same goal: what is best for students. (Pro tip: Following a #hashtag is following a topic or group, while following an @account is following and connecting with a person.)


The #EduColor movement challenges me daily to be a better listener, a better advocate, and a better ally. I confront my my own biases and inaction multiple times a day. And I make changes. I’m thankful to have entered this space and work alongside these strong, smart, thoughtful voices.

Jason Markey

Jason is the principal at Leyden High School, in the west suburbs of Chicago. He’s one of the most engaged and engaging principals in the use of technology and social tools for connecting his community, supporting student learning, and getting his own work done.

Jason started #leydenpride and shares the curating and posting responsibility with a growing group of students, teachers, parents, and community members.

Dr. Rachael George

Rachael is the principal of Sandy Grade School in Sandy, Oregon. She is an administrator to follow for both her celebration of her school community and the curriculum, policy, and leadership posts she shares and retweets.

Jamie Richardson

Jamie is the principal at LaCreole Middle School, in the Dallas, Oregon. He’s also chief cheerleader for his #lacreolerocks school.

Kevin Bacon

Kevin is the 3 to PhD® Collaboration Director at Concordia University and former principal of Boise-Eliot/Humboldt School in Portland, Oregon. He’s not as prolific on social media as the others, but is a great example of someone who challenged himself one summer to start finding ways to celebrate his students and school community.

Tim Lauer

Tim is the Director of Digital Learning and Technology Integration (Ed Tech) at Evergreen Public Schools in Vancouver, Washington. He is the model most of us emulate in our social media life. He shares good content; celebrates diversity, equity, and achievement in schools across our region; and, he’s a Cubs fan.

Kourtney Ferrua

Kourtney is the principal of Wascher Elementary School in Lafayette, Oregon. She’s on the list for her commitment to joy, curriculum, improved student outcomes, and the human center of education.

Part Four: Access, Mobility, and Security

This is when we take our introduction and our resources and tackle what I think is important for you to know right now. We’ll have generous time for group discussion.


Access is simply having the tools you need to do your job. In education technology, this means access to devices, the internet, digital curriculum, learning management systems, digital accessories, and professional development.

Make friends with your district technology leadership and your local user support. They’ll help you prepare budgets and advocate for appropriate funding. They’ll fix inevitable technology issues.


Mobile web traffic officially surpassed desktop traffic in fall 2017. We see these same patterns in our regional traffic patterns on tools like Synergy’s ParentVUE and StudentVUE and our district websites.

Cellphones (or not) in the classroom is the issue of the year, as reliance on (and distraction by) increase for students and teachers both.



Your district technology staff are spending increasing time on security. The information security landscape is a challenge in 2018, with threats increasing rapidly. (You can hear a bit about the incremental nature of student information breaches in this December 2015 Marketplace Tech snippet and read the latest September 2018 FBI Alert.)

Some information security measures are based on hardware and software systems. As important? Human measures. Here are two easy illustrations: my favorite tech cartoon about human nature **and** an eye-catching phishing flyer.

Thanks for the great conversation today. Don’t hesitate to reach out if I can help you with technology questions in the coming years.

Rachel Wente-Chaney   |   Chief Information Officer, High Desert ESD   |   |   541-693-5636   |   @rwentechaney