Top 3 Lessons for K-12 IT Staff From ISTE20

Updated: Dec 11, 2020

Recapping notable sessions - our continued coverage of #ISTE20.


Coalescing Educational Technology and IT Departments to Maximize Innovation in K-12

By Dr. Jennifer Burks (Associate Superintendent), Ken Wall (IT Director), and Lana Nguyen (Ed Tech Director) of Poway Unified School District

Before Poway USD took a strategic approach towards unifying Education Technology and IT:

  • Schools made site-based tech decisions with minimal district oversight

  • The IT department felt isolated from the rest of the district

  • Teachers only had 1:1 professional development training on using technology in classrooms instead of a formal training process

This resulted in:

  • Confused parents/staff

  • School staff and teachers didn’t want to learn new technology and techniques

  • Dollars were spent on technology that were not used in the classroom

  • Because of separation of the tech side, tech staff didn’t hear about these issues

A few years ago, Poway USD established an official Education Technology Department and implemented these strategies:


Where PUSD is now:

  • New structure with Associate Superintendent overseeing Ed Tech and IT departments

  • IT is closer to needs of the classroom

  • Ed Tech Department especially helpful right now because supporting teachers through pandemic schooling

On a related note, schools may find it helpful to share PUSD's Chromebook Responsibility video with their students! An example of blending pop culture and learning at its best.



The Modern Tech Team: Every Member as Tech Support, Coach, IT, Infrastructure

By Bill Selak (Director of Technology) and Emily Hendricks (Associate Director of Technology) at Hillbrook School


Hillbrook IT stresses that IT should focus "on the people that we support instead of purely the devices that they’re using for education.” Bill brings up the topic of agency for teachers and students to "own their learning." In order for IT to support these goals for a small school like Hillbrook, Bill and Emily use three methods:


1. Consolidate IT tickets to streamline response to IT issues (Hillbrook uses Zendesk)

2. Offer an online resource to teach staff and students how to fix simple iPad IT issues.


3. Offer professional development resources for teachers and substitute teachers to onboard quickly and "own their learning" of how to use education technology in the classroom.



Island State, District Solutions (Hawaii)

By Brook Conner (Assistant Superintendent and CIO) and Hilary Apana-McKee (Instructional Technology Director) of the Hawaii State Department of Education


Hawaii has a single school district that covers all its islands and serves 170,000+ students. Due to the scale of Hawaii's public schools, they require an enterprise approach to solve the problems of various school environments. Schools range from small, economically-disadvantaged, and rural to large, affluent, and urban.


To address #DistanceLearning, Hawaii established the Ohana Help Desk to provide tech support to parents in the top 6 languages spoken in the state. ("Ohana" means family.)


To address #equity and meet the needs of families that don’t have internet, Hawaii included two approaches in their plan.

  1. Send home WiFi hotspots

  2. Send fleets of Mobile Learning Vans to provide WiFi for places without cellular service since WiFi hotspots don't work there. See video below:

The Deledao team certainly learned a lot from these ISTE talks and if you did too, please share with your fellow educators.


For K-12 IT folks interested in using real-time #ArtificialIntelligence to help reduce IT headaches regarding web filtering and monitoring student mental health, head on over to our virtual booth at #ISTE20!


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