The EdTech Leadership cycle is complex. So much of what a school or district needs depends on where they are in the journey of converting Teacher Technology (Type I) to Student Technology (Type II). {Check out the difference between Type I and Type II technology: Using Technology How?} Where a district is on that journey dictates the type of leader they need; do they need a technician or an educator?

A technician as leader is a logical first choice when networks are being built. The technician lays out networks thinking of equality as sameness. Each school should have the same access.

An educator as leader is needed once the infrastructure is established and the art of educating requires some translation to the digital tools available. There are two phases that an EdTech leader continually cycles through: envisioning and drilling down to details.

EdTech Leadership Vision: User Experience on the Network

How do you want your teachers to sign in to where with what credentials?

Detail: Predictable, Secure Credentials
Simple (short) usernames with passwords forced to reset for both teachers and students at predictable intervals. Teachers should not have access, or be able to easily guess student passwords. Students should never be asked to share their password with an adult.

Detail: Communicate the Exceptions
How do you communicate to your users when any portion of the network is down? A status page is an optimal and transparent way to disseminate network status. With one check, a user can determine if the app they are using, or the network is out. This may mean not having to broadcast via email to large portions of the organization technical failures, who did not even know anything was wrong. The strategy also lessens calls to levels of knowledge keepers in the organization, who may be busy trying to restore an outage.

How are educators in the classroom able to identify an Internet resource as appropriate? A simple override of high stakes credentials might reverse the random experience of many classroom educators known as Firewall Fatigue. If teachers could enter their district username and password to temporarily “white list” a site for review this would help with classroom instruction flow, be a way for the IT people behind adaptive firewalls to protect yet serve classrooms, and still hold teachers accountable for the content shown in their classroom.

Detail: Easy Support
Any adult should be able to easily report any problem at any time. An online, transparent reporting system is essential. Responses need to be monitored and responded to quickly and respectfully. All calls for help are important as they signify potential interruption of instruction.

EdTech Leadership Vision: Access to Softwares

Detail: Point of Access
There should be one clear path to access. Whether a single place to sign on with credentials or a Symbaloo-like page from which to start, there is value in teachers and students following one path. Future instruction and troubleshooting benefit from this familiarity.

Detail: Ease of Access
Softwares should have Single Sign On (SSO) capabilities as possible, meaning the teacher or student credentials pass from the point of entering school credentials to the next software the teacher/students opens. Interoperability standards expect softwares to communicate with each other.
Single Sign On and Interoperability should be evaluated and/or negotiated in advance of software purchases.

Detail: Direct URLs
Even with an awesome single point of access and single sign on, it would be wise to keep the direct URLs ( and the password conventions) available to share in case of any outages around that single point of access.

Detail: Educator-reviewed Renewals
Usage data is widely available for educational softwares. Teams of users can be assembled to evaluate actual versus intended usage.

EdTech Leadership Vision: Devices

Detail: Student Devices
Whether your students bring or are assigned devices, an edtech leader decides the level of access to assign to home versus school. A good policy is to make families stakeholders in the care of student devices. Consider an insurance offer or a contract for care/repair of devices sent home.
Many schools have allowed students to bring their own devices (BYOD) frequently the less financially abundant homes send cell phones – cell phones are a point of access, but necessarily a productivity device – over laptops. While the cost of purchasing and servicing devices is avoided initially with BYOD, that cost is transferred to the classroom with various devices to support, content not surfacing on different devices as expected. The classroom teacher is less practiced in supporting these technological issues too. If cell phones are the preferred device for some students and not others, the digital divide is perpetuated.

The duration of access is also something schools can control. If you assign devices with Internet access from home (per device or by parking your busses near students) versus only providing access at school you are both opening up new frontiers to students.
Detail: Teacher Devices
Teacher devices are provided by their schools. And these machines need to be robust enough to run software and work with various projection equipment.
The refresh cycle needs to be predictable and lean heavily on teacher input for features.

Similar/Same Functionality should be expected between teacher machines. Same Operating Systems, versions of popular programs, and same or similar models as possible will make teacher work flow simplier.


The technician leader is needed to get to the point where the educator leader can thrive. the change from technician to educator is crucial to support classrooms fully. These guiding visions and the necessary details can be sustained by an educator who already has the benefit of a robust infrastructure. It is not enough to be in charge, but how are you complementing the classroom instruction, how do you make it easier to do that job? If one cannot drill down to each supporting detail, then one cannot enact the vision. It is sustained attention to the details of supporting class-level instruction which makes the difference.

What makes a good EdTech leader?
Timing dictates if your leader is technical or educationally minded. Once you pass a certain milestone it has to be an educator.
Really, it is a lot more leader and a lot less technology.