Evolution of Chief Technology Officer Roles Panel Discussion

Event News
Troy Starr, Learning Counsel Writer

On February 27th, 2018, Learning Counsel held a Digital Transition Discussion in Orange County, CA. During the event, education professionals engaged in a day of collaboration, professional development, market briefings, networking and workshop activities. A panel discussion was held by Dr. David Kafitz and here are some highlights:

The panelist speakers were:

  • Michael Magboo, CTO, Buena Park School District
  • Tony Burris, CTO, Compton USD

Dr. Kafitz kicked off the discussion asking, “Can you share how your role has changed and how you see it continuing to change to support the digital transition schools are undergoing?”

Burris shared that he has worked in a few districts as the Chief Technology Officer (CTO). In a previous district he was not included in purchasing decisions for technologies and was often only notified when technical problems occurred. In his current district he is involved in purchasing decisions and can offer his expertise when making decisions to employ new applications. Burris said, “The difference for me has been having the seat at the table. Being able to talk one-on-one with the superintendent, the deputy superintendent, the principals and finding out what it is that they want to deliver and how they want to deliver it in the schools.”

Magboo agreed with Burris that the big change he has seen has been the inclusion of CTOs in the decision-making process. He stated, “The change is we become much more than just the IT guy, the switch guy, the router guy, to become all purpose, knowing about both sides of the house, including the MO side, and the EdTech side and the education side.” He also noted, “The biggest thing I see in the CTO realm is the education side being discussed more and more prominently. Having a CTO at the cabinet level, discussing with the cabinet, or at least the extended cabinet as need be, brings up educational topics.” He went on to note that before CTOs inclusion in these kinds of decision making processes there was often a disconnect in objectives coming from the higher-ups and what was realistically feasible. The inclusion of CTOs in these decision-making conversations has greatly streamlined and improved these lines of communications and overall strategy of digital tool implementation.

Kafitz went on to ask, “Just how pervasively is technology these days invading every aspect of the school district?”

Magboo noted that it has become so prevalent that in some cases he has even seen computer labs going away as so many students are equipped with digital tools via 1-to-1 initiatives. Now that students have the devices with them at school as well as at home he is seeing that sometimes he will be asked by a school board to provide filtering at home. Magboo is now working in new areas such as monitoring, filtering, legal aspects of at-home-use, policy making, data, and analytics. He noted that this varies between districts. In smaller districts like his, these developing responsibilities usually come down to himself and his department. In larger districts, often new employees are hired to focus on these different areas. Burris agreed saying, “In school districts in general, whether you’re a teacher or in technology, we’re constantly being asked to do more with less.”

Kafitz then asked, “Technology is impacting how we are restructuring the classroom. Are you involved in this redesign in your schools?”

Burris shared that in his previous district he was involved in a program called ‘Classrooms of Tomorrow’ which involved a total redesign of classrooms to employ mobile furniture and interactive boards. In his current district he is involved in the discussion and planning process for classroom redesign. Magboo added that in his district they are involved in a program called ‘Classrooms Without Limits’ which helped them modernize classrooms and implement a 1-to-1 initiative.

Both Burris and Magboo shared how their roles have been developing and how they have been involved implementing innovative developments within their districts. In Magboo’s words, “We are a school that’s innovating to prepare our students for jobs that don’t even exist yet.”


If you would like to attend an event, which is free to educators, check out our Events Schedule. Also, join the conversation online by creating a profile on KnowStory.com, an educational social site, focused on facilitating developments and collaborations in the education community.  On KnowStory you can join or create a Learning Group focused on the topic(s) you would like to discuss. Check back in for more updates from the front lines of the Digital Transition!