Technology for New Administrators

A primer for Lora and Paul’s initial administrator course, updated for Fall 2022. (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 2022, 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 May 2022? It’s going to be outdated soon.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.

Today’s starter questions, via the cohort:

      1. How do we help our students understand the both the power and the dangers of technology, especially social media?
        1. Teens and social media use: What’s the impact? (Mayo Clinic)
        2. Common Sense Education (Common Sense Media)
      2. What are baseline tech skills we should expect from our students, and from our staff?
        1. This depends on the role, of course, but in general I look for similar skills to life B.T. (Before Technology): clarity of thinking and writing, good decision-making ability, excellent curiosity, openess to learning new things.
        2. You probably wanted a different list. 🙂
          1. What Tech Tools Should Be Required Knowledge for Teachers? (Edutopia)
          2. ISTE Standards for Students (ISTE)
        3. How much technology is too much?
          1. It depends.
          2. Let’s talk.
        4. What are some ideas/systems that could help us make communication across a school or district more effective and transparent?
          1. People process: comms kit, media kit, expectations and consistency
          2. Language access
          3. Technology tools: standards, templates, accessibility
        5. What do you wish a brand-new administrator knew about instructional and information technology?
          1. What we talk about this fall will be different in spring.
          2. Collaborate and find friends.
        6. When and how do you re-evaluate decisions-devices, LMS’s, etc.?
          1. Roughly every three years.
          2. Factor people into this equation always.
        7. What is your view of smartphones in the classroom?
          1. Emerging.
          2. Let’s talk.
        8. What is some new tech that we should have? 🙂
        9. How do we better communicate with parents about best practices in tech use for our students-and ourselves?
          1. Your vision is key.
          2. Language access.
          3. Mobility.
          4. Bite-sized content.

    Part One: Introduction

    Spring 2022 Starter Questions

        1. What are the biggest focal areas coming out of the pandemic in terms of our students and their use of technology?
          1. Education technology post-COVID-19: A missed opportunity? (Brookings Institute)

            Specifically, we found that ed-tech interventions are most effective when they play to one or more of its comparative advantages: (1) scaling up quality instruction; (2) facilitating personalized instruction; (3) expanding opportunities for practice; and (4) increasing learner engagement (making it more fun to learn!).

          2. How To Use Educational Technology Humanely Post-Pandemic (Forbes)

            A model like this could have students work 2-3 days per week with personalized learning software and then spend the other 2-3 days in school discussing, doing projects, playing sports, putting on plays, and doing all of the other things that must be done in person.

          3. Education after the pandemic (AEI)

            Successful schools are inevitably the product of the relationships between adults and students. When technology ignores that, it’s bound to disappoint. But when it’s designed to offer more coaching, free up time for meaningful teacher-student interaction, or offer students more personalized feedback, technology can make a significant, positive difference.

          4. The Intersection of Technology and Educational Equity—Before, During, and After the Pandemic (AIR)

            We need to implement technology in a way that honors the fact that we’re still learning about it. We also need to conduct the work in a way that allows us to track our progress. As we invest in technology programs, we should conduct experimental or descriptive studies, so we can understand how that investment is paying off for students. Technology actually facilitates evaluation, because it’s much easier to track student use and outcomes than print curricula. But we shouldn’t assume we know what works.

        2. What are the RED FLAGS you need to watch out for in terms of your students and their families and technology?
          1. Security
          2. Access (not just to hardware and internet connections)
          3. Mobility
        3. What are your concerns about how tech systems might fail?
          1. Misinformation and disinformation
          2. Security and vulnerability
          3. Missed opportunities
        4. What is the promise that you see in terms of your students and their families and technology?
          1. Connections
          2. Access to services that now include counselors, voting, civic engagament, and telemedicine
          3. Learning via video
        5. What do administrators need to know about apps like Safe Oregon? Are there other similar tools we need to know about?
          1. Safe Oregon is a multi-platform student safety tip line. It allows for anonymous reporting of threats like bullying (in person or online), safety threats, fighting, drugs, alcohol, weapons, talk of suicide, depression, or people who want to hurt themselves or others, abuse, or sexual assault
          2. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 24/7 confidential support for people in distress , 800-273-TALK (8255)
          3. YouthLine, Confidential teen-to-teen crisis helpline, Call 877-968-8491 or text teen2teen to 839863
          4. Trevor Project, 24/7 crisis and suicide intervention for LGBTQ youth, Call 866-488-7386 or text START to 678678
        6. In several of our districts, students’ cell phone use feels out of control. What are your thoughts about this, and how might schools address appropriate cell phone use?I hear this and get it. And will pause for a moment to ask about the last meeting or training with adults, also. 🙂
          1. Creating a culture around the appropriate time and place for devices is important, and can be done, but it also feels like rolling a boulder uphill right now.
          2. It’s gotten more complicated in the past five years as parents often expect immediate access to the children and have depended on student cell phones for information during safety events and emergency situations.
          3. Edutopia started a Twitter conversation about the issue last weekend. Two perspectives that stood out to me in point, counterpoint fashion are just below this green block.
        7. What are your thoughts about the use of YouTube in the classroom? This is the easiest for me to answer today. It’s invaluable. Which means we may need to figure some things out about it.
        8. We are curious about tips for keeping up with the latest trends in educational technology.
          1. Social media and conference sessions are my go-to.
          2. Melissa Lim (@actionhero), at Portland Public Schools, does an excellent job of sharing education and technology news updates (and some important Harry Styles fan updates, too!).
          3. Edutopia and Common Sense Education are also great general resources.

    On Twitter, Edutopia asked, “In your opinion, should student cellphones be banned from classrooms?” (May 15, 2022)

    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?

      *Want to see one of the first education technology resources?
      Radio, The Assistant Teacher, by Ben H. Darrow, 1932 


    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 be a prolific poster to get value from social media, be it Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, or the community that catapults to the top of the list 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.

    Guadalupe Guerrero

    Guadalupe is the superintendent of Portland Public Schools and excellent champion his district via social media.

    Dr. A. Katrise Lee-Perera

    Katrise is a former Oregon administrator who is now the superintendent of Lancaster Independent Schools in Lancaster, Texas. She’s an excellent model for Twitter as school to community connection.

    Steve Cook

    Steve is the superintendent of Bend-LaPine Schools. He uses Twitter to amplify the stories of the district and partners in Central Oregon.

    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.

    Gustavo Balderas

    Gustavo is currently the superintendent of Edmonds School District, and will be coming back to Oregon to lead the Beaverton School District in 2022-23. He celebrates his local district and also engages in broader education conversations via Twitter.

    Jamie Richardson

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

    Heidi Sipe

    Heidi is the superintendent of Umatilla School District. She uses Twitter to tell the story of her district, highlight issues in education, and celebrate her fellow K-12 leaders.

    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.

    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.

    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 the latest State of K12 Cybersecurity report.)

    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