Moving at the Speed of Creativity by Wesley Fryer

Empowering 21st Century Superintendents to Achieve a Culture of Transformation through Technology

These are my notes from the “Empowering 21st Century Superintendents to Achieve a Culture of Transformation through Technology” session at CoSN 2009 in Austin, Texas, on March 12, 2009. MY COMMENTS ARE IN ALL CAPS. UNFORTUNATELY I GOT TO THIS SESSION LATE SO THESE NOTES ARE VERY INCOMPLETE. THESE COMMENTS ARE A COMBINATION OF IDEAS SHARED BY THE PANELISTS, WHO INCLUDED:

Johnny Veselka, Executive Director, Texas Association of School Administrators
David Plymale, Superintendent, Waelder ISD, TX
Jerry Vaughn, Superintendent, Floydada ISD, TX
Steve Waddell,Superintendent, Birdsville ISD, TX
Joan Kowal, CoSN Project Director: Empowering 21st Century Superintendents
Lillian Kellogg, Vice President, Educational Networks of America

Empowering 21st Century Superintendents initiative:

Frequently cited document in this session (PDF): Creating a New Vision for Public Education in Texas (from TASA’s website)

Technology is required for systems level transformation. Not just “change.” Technology is a reason and a means by which we can and should change our schools. We are going to face irrelevance if we do not seek transformation of learning in our schools. (Reference Christiansen book)

Visioning institute is about teachers becoming coaches and facilitators
– we need systems change
– this is where the world of work is: collaboration, use of technology
– how can we change our systems of learning to match the skills students will need in the future

We unblocked YouTube 2 years ago
– we have now unblocked facebook
– we need to make these learning tools available for students, and stop pretending they don’t exist

Like a GPS, we are willing to recalculate

Five Leadership Themes
– strengthen district leadership and communications
– raise the bar with 21st century skills
– transform pedagogy with compelling learning environments
– support professional development and communities of practice
– create balanced assessments

Heard Ian Jukes recently discuss the importance of technological fluency by students, use of

Quotation: to be viable schools must adapt to this new environment

on the topic of social networking, our kids are doing multiple things all at once
– I have a son who is a gamer, listening to music, texting at the same time


What is the alignment of skills between those emphasized in schools and those wanted in the workforce
– especially with collaboration

just “teaching how to use the tool” is very different than “using technology to get the job done”
– we need to make sure students are using the resources that are there to accomplish tasks / specific things (not just tools)
– emphasis on soft skills are so important: willingness to serve and help others, collaboration to help others
– good digital citizenship
– how to interact and learn virtually
– imagination high on that list from the Business Roundtable

Challenges we face as an industry, as school districts
– curriculum development: we all have curriculums, but have we embedded the use of technology for our teachers so it facilitates how, where and when the technology is used
– used with all types of lesson delivery


we need to equip 21st century classrooms with 21st century technologies
– a number of sites out there we are blocking: there are a lot of rich materials out there students can use, and we need to focus on good digital citizenship

How many of you ban cell phones?
– we are keeping the power of that information away from our students
– we have to look at our policies and procedures, we’ve got to open more avenues of learning for our students

As we move to digital textbooks and content, we should

I think we need to put more power in the hands of kids, and then learn how to harness and facilitate it
– we need to enhance

We need to help our teachers and students differentiate between good and bad information

A 7 year adoption cycle for textbooks is ridiculous
– we’re not talking just CDs and DVDs, everything is going web-based
– we need materials that can be constantly updated

South Africa has gone to wikis primarily as textbooks, so they can always be updated

Key question: Are students in charge of their learning and should they be in charge?
– comment from one of my teachers: “You’ve got to get out of their way. They will learn if you will get out of their way. If our students are powering down when they get to our campuses

From Jerry Vaughn:
Our district has come to realize we have lost the cell phone battle
– next year we will not fight it
– night school at our high school (Floydada ISD) has become something kids ask for and want (they want our connectivity)
– we are low SES, and 27 of 28 students in our night school had cell phones with unlimited text messaging
– we are looking at replacing response systems with cell phones and websites which use text messaging

From Johnny Veselka:
Our districts need flexibility to use state funding and state support to purchase electronic materials and resources when desired
– we have a very old textbook adoption process that may not change soon
– current projected textbook allotment in Texas for the next biennium (2 years) is $900 million to $1 billion

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