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A Seat at the Table

Where does IT sit in your district?

This article originally appeared in T.H.E. Journal's December 2013 digital edition.

Therese Mageau
Therese Mageau

I have overseen the editorial direction of T.H.E. Journal and its higher ed counterpart, Campus Technology, for the past three years. In that time, I've seen no more significant change than the one taking place right now in higher education.

When I started, the concern of the college/university CIO was, "Are we ever going to get a seat at the strategy table?" IT was seen too often by higher ed administrations as an operational unit. Clearly, IT is operational. But visionary IT leaders knew that technology had to be integrated into the strategic planning of any institution that wanted to thrive in the 21st century.

Well, all it took was a few MOOCs to scare those administrators into the arms of their CIOs, crying, "Help us stay in business!" In less than three years, higher ed CIOs moved from the data center to the board room.

I'm not seeing the same move in K-12. Partly that's because there is no MOOC corollary threatening the very existence of K-12, which (unlike higher education) is not optional. That isn't to say that online learning is not putting serious pressure on K12 schools--but not enough, so far, to shake some districts out of their 20th (19th?) century view of the world.

I recently moderated a session at the Association of School Business Officials and asked the panelists, "Is IT strategic or operational in your district?" One of them said, emphatically, "It's operational," and proudly talked about moving technology out from under curriculum and instruction and into operations.

I'm sure that district is smoothly run. But I wouldn't bet much on their vision of education. This month we interview five technology-leading superintendents. I'll bet each one will say their IT leader sits at the strategy table. Where does IT sit in your district?

On a closing note, this is my last issue as editorial director. I'm filled with gratitude for what I've learned from our readers and my editors. It's been an honor to serve all of you. Stay in touch.

About the Author

Therese Mageau is the former editorial director of THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].