Disclaimer: I am not proclaiming to be the expert on K-12 CIOs, nor providing the Golden Answer on how to do the job effectively. I am sharing my experiences and my opinions on what makes a Good K-12 CIO.
What makes a Good K-12 CIO? Technical background and knowledge? Having been a teacher or administrator? Having a business background?
I believe a K-12 CIO must have a good understanding of technology, be able to communicate effectively and implement projects from both a technical and instructional standpoint. The CIO must understand the technology that makes a project successful. He/she must see the "big picture" and how that investment plays a role in the classroom - particularly with student learning. The CIO must also be able to communicate the expectations, steps and results of that proejct with his/her customers. (The customers are faculty, staff, students, community, leadership and board members.)
I believe an effective K-12 CIO is one who surrounds him/herself with good people. Just like any good leader - you are only as successful as those around you. A CIO must have a quality technical team, one that is capable of implementing new projects, maintain existing equipment and understand how that equipment plays a role in the classroom. The CIO must also have the backing of the instructional team. Without the buy in at the instructional level, it will be very difficult to implement successful projects. Finally, a good CIO must have buy in from the top. His/her superintendent and board members, must see the value in projects, understand (from the CIOs communication) how those projects have a positive impact on student learning and the need to invest dollars into the various projects.
So to answer my initial questions. I believe it is important for a K-12 CIO to have some technical knowledge/background. This is essential to communicate and make good technical decisions/purchases. I believe it is equally important that the K-12 CIO have either a background or an excellent understanding of education. This does not mean they must have been a teacher or principal, but rather understand the education process and what the real objectives are in the classroom. Finally, the CIO must have a good business savvy to them. They have to be able to communicate effectively at multiple levels, to budget, plan, have a vision, all while ensuring their existing projects and equipment are satisfactory to their customers. They must be champions of technology in the schools to all stakeholders - the community, leadership, faculty/staff and students.
JDS | CIO