HELP WANTED – Questions for interviews of ‘technology-savvy’ superintendents

For an upcoming CASTLE research project, we’re going to do interviews of multiple years’ worth of the winners of eSchoolNews’ technology-savvy superintendents awards. We are soliciting input regarding our interview protocol. These superintendent interviews will be done over the telephone, recorded as podcasts, and made available online to the public as a free resource.

What changes / additions / deletions would you suggest to our draft interview protocol? We’ll take a look at anything left in the comments area by Sunday, September 19!

YellowphoneInterview protocol

1. As we get started here, would you confirm verbally that you received the consent form that was sent to you and that you also recognize that this interview will be publicly available on the Internet? [pause] Thank you.

2. Where are you currently a superintendent and how long have you served in that role?

  • eSchoolNews identified you as one of the nation’s most technology-savvy superintendents. Are you still in the district for which you won the award?
  • Would you share with us your previous administrative and teaching experiences?

3. Why do you think you were selected for the eSchoolNews award?

  • Can you describe some of the most important technology initiatives that your district implemented?
  • What do you think was the most important initiative you implemented (and why)?

4. In general, what do you think is the difference between a regular superintendent and a ‘technology-savvy’ superintendent?

  • Are there particular leadership mindsets or behaviors that would help outsiders identify a superintendent as one that was ‘technology-savvy?’

5. How do you ensure that digital technologies are used as tools to enhance learning and not just as ‘technology for the sake of doing technology?’

6. What are some of the challenges to being a ‘technology-savvy’ superintendent? What gets in the way of doing this well? [ask follow-up probes about any/all of the items below as necessary]

  • Staff?
  • Resources?
  • Parents / community members?
  • Time?
  • Professional development / training?
  • Lack of organizational vision?
  • Other?

7. Why do you think most superintendents struggle when it comes to being effective technology leaders?

  • What can be done to help superintendents in this area?

8. Did your superintendent licensure program – or any of your other administrative licensure programs – help prepare you to be an effective technology leader?

  • Did your administrative licensure programs incorporate coverage of technology leadership issues into their curricula?
  • Did your administrative licensure programs help you develop your own personal technology proficiencies?
  • What recommendations do you have for preservice preparation of superintendents and principals when it comes to the technology side of leadership?

9. What kind of learning opportunities do you have to enhance your own development as a technology leader? What, if anything, is being done by each of these entities to help you become a better technology leader?

  • School district
  • State and/or national leadership associations
  • State department of education and/or regional service agencies
  • Universities
  • Other entities

10. What are some ways that you personally use technology?

  • What do these technology tools do for you?
  • How do you keep up with the current trends in education as a whole and, more specifically, the ever-changing world of technology in education and society?
  • What are some must-have technology tools for superintendents?

11. We’ve been focusing on the superintendent side of all of this. What do building-level school leaders need to be doing when it comes to technology implementation and integration in their schools? What role do they play in all of this?

12. What kinds of professional development do you think are most effective when it comes to technology? Let’s start with teachers. What training do they need and how should it be structured?

  • Okay, and now how about for administrators? What training do they need and how should it be structured?
  • Should technology-related training for administrators be different than what is given to teachers? Why or why not?

13. So far we’ve been talking a lot about effective technology leadership. What does ineffective, or bad, technology leadership look like?

14. Here’s our next-to-last question: What advice do you have for school leaders who want to be more ‘technology savvy?’

15. Thanks so much. Is there anything else you want to say on the topic of effective technology leadership? Anything that we should have discussed but didn’t?

Image credit: Do you remember?……Call

8 Responses to “HELP WANTED – Questions for interviews of ‘technology-savvy’ superintendents”

  1. Thanks Scott for this post. I am currently in my doctorate program and we are studying the superintendency. As part of our course requirements we need to interview, shadow, and immerse ourself into the role of the superintendent. These questions give me some food for thought as I’m designing those experiences.

  2. A possible alternative to number 5:

    What evidence do you and your principals routinely monitor and report out on to ensure that technology use makes a difference in experiences of our students?

  3. I keep focusing on question #5 also, it’s sort of the “big money” question, right? We can dedicate resources to technology for our teachers but it comes down to how they’re using those resources. An interview question I always ask teacher candidates is “how have you provided students with the opportunity to learn with passion, innovation and leadership?” They often tell me how they have taught with passion, innovation and leadership but that’s quite different from students using the technology. Please emphasize the importance of question #5!

  4. Another angle to investigate would be that of the board of education. How did the superintendent get buy in from their boards or was this a mandate from them? How has the board continued their support for technology in the district? What expectations do their board have as far as technology’s impact on student achievement?

  5. I share the same concern about q5 with Joel and Kimberly too. Maybe we can add one or two warm-up questions like:

    Do you encounter any “technology for technology’s sake” practice or plan before?

    Is there any method to avoid that?

  6. Best question “What are some ways that you personally use technology?”, it gets to the heart of it…how and why do you use technology and what do you struggle with? If it matters to you, then you use it personally. You lead from where you are and if you aren’t using technology yourself, then you can’t really lead others to use it. You can use technology to achieve goals, but technology won’t be transformative to your practice.

  7. I think on question 4 it would be interesting to see if tech savvy superintendents feel they transformed themselves into that state, or if it just came naturally.

    I think it would be interesting to ask about the reporting relationship between the tech savvy superintendent and the district’s CTO/Tech Director…. is it a directly report?

    For question 5, I’d like to see an answer described in terms of measures and metrics… how do they measure technology integration and how do those measures show continued progress.

  8. I echo the emphasis on question 5 and agree with Greg. It might be interesting to know how they got there–or at least how they preceive they got there.

    Great study!

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