Education Insights

Education news, trends, and highlights by Anthony Salcito, Vice President, Worldwide Education, Microsoft

CIO Summit Chat with Debbie Karcher, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

CIO Summit Chat with Debbie Karcher, Miami-Dade County Public Schools

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Microsoft's annual U.S. Public Sector CIO Summit always provides a great opportunity to connect with a broad range of education institutions as well as representatives from across the US in state and local government and Federal agencies.  This year's event was no exception and I was incredibly pleased with the feedback and leadership demonstrated by those in attendance.  Despite the mounting economic pressures and uncertainties, those joining us for a few days in Redmond, WA are embracing the mandate to improve learning outcomes with optimism…and a focus that, in many ways, has been sharpened by reduced resources. 

Transform. Innovate. Lead.  It was the core theme for the CIO Summit and an increasingly critical imperative for our schools as we face uncertain economic times and intense global competition.  In many ways, the role of the CIO in education is rapidly evolving to optimize opportunities for innovation, leadership and drive smarter technology decisions with a balance on education outcomes, funding and long-term strategic direction.

During the summit many key themes surfaced...most reflecting the new environment created by the economy...cloud services, virtualization, impact on education analytics on learning outcomes, and 21st learning.   I had an opportunity to sit and chat about many of these topics with Debbie Karcher, CIO for Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS), during the event and wanted to share a short video from our conversation.

Debbie supports an ever-expanding range of solutions across America’s 4th largest school district.  I’ve worked closely with M-DCPS for the last several years, and have always been impressed with their clarity and consensus of vision and the urgency with which they approach their work.  Under Debbie’s leadership, they have been working to modernize and overhaul the district using technology and data to help raise student achievement, establish equity and support students, teachers and staff.

In the video, Debbie shares her lessons learned from the journey to help transform Miami-Dade County Public Schools, as well as some fundamentals on USING DATA that I think reflects a lot of what I see around the country. In some ways the pivot on using education data parallels my argument on 1:1.  On the 1:1 side, we spend far too much energy/time on acquisition of the device and not nearly enough time on bringing holistic reform to the classroom, curriculum, and assessment.  With education analytics, schools spend lots of time building the robust and secure data center and developing rich visualizations of data…not nearly enough time is spent landing the data into everyday rhythm for teachers, students and parents.  Data-driven decision making is powerful when it actually helps make decisions on content, student needs, areas of specialization, etc.  As Debbie notes, overcoming teacher and parent hesitation to actively use the data M-DCPS is providing is not something to be ignored.

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Debbie and the entire team at M-DCPS are doing some heroic work and their models and thinking are good resources for schools going down a similar path.  Districts looking to 1) improve learning outcomes by supporting teachers with resources to quality instruction, 2) encourage routine student use of technology to support learning, and 3) provide parents with tools and data needed to help them more actively engage in the education process…should take a look at the Miami-Dade Public Schools solution, process, and outcomes.

More info on Miami-Dade County Public Schools work:

School website: http://www.dadeschools.net/
Project case study: http://www.microsoft.com/casestudies/casestudy.aspx?casestudyid=4000002944
Video case study:

Comments
  • Much has been incorporated in building technology infrastructure and data availability to drive decision making NOTHING is being done to bring teachers and students into the 21st century with technology. Nothing is being done to open the doors to video innovations and the use of emerging technologies such as blogs, social networking and creative project based learning. All the firewalls in the world are not going to help our teachers and students. Teachers especially are at a loss when students are so ahead of them its embarrassing!

  • There are folks willing to work with the teachers and parents. Sometimes it is like if the School district is nto paying much the volunteer forces doe not get the support for a seminar. I work with technology volunteers dedicated to assisting the teachers and parents and because the teachers are so burdened with so many other responsibilities it is really difficult for them to carve out time.  

    I think it would be a great stimulus activity to help encourage teachers to attain some funds to be allocated to learn the technology and how to use the technology in the class. How to use the LMS to hlep keep you, the student and parents  making bettter and more timely decisions. In the workshops the volunteers or semi-volunteers could assist the teachers to develop lesson plans and the teachers could work in teams doing role playing and critique each other. I would be willing to help with such   workshops.

    The other thing is many of the teachers  never get the chance to view some of the on-line tools or attend meetins  and again are buried in responsibilities. My husband works over 70 hours per week and is a year long teacher. Even if they miss a class they have to work extra to do prepare for a substitute.

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    There are folks willing to work with the teachers and parents. Sometimes it is like if the School District is not paying for an expensive consultant then the volunteer forces do  not get the support for a seminar. The changes are not happening and education is suffering in this economy. I work with technology volunteers dedicated to assisting the teachers and parents and because the teachers are so burdened with so many other responsibilities it is really difficult for them to carve out time to attend meetings.  

    It  would be a great stimulus activity that would help encourage teachers by providing  some funds to be allocated to learn the technology and how to use the technology in the class. How to use the LMS to help keep the teacher, the student and parents making better and more timely decisions. In the workshops the volunteers or semi-volunteers could assist the teachers to develop lesson plans and the teachers could work in teams doing role playing and furnishing critique each other. I would be willing to help with such workshops.  I am doing some now and did these when I taught at NCSU years ago. Let the teachers decide more vs. the state and the districts.

    A key issue is many of the teachers never get the chance to view some of the on-line tools or attend meetings  and again are buried in responsibilities. My husband works over 70 hours per week and is a yearlong teacher. Even if they miss a class they have to work extra to do prepare for a substitute.

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