Technology Leaders to Watch

By Ann Lee Flynn

Recently, eWeek took a look at Google's “10 Oddest, Most Intriguing Works in Progress.” Investments in robotics research, driverless cars, intelligent contact lenses, and balloons that float over sparsely developed areas to provide Internet connectivity are but a few of the projects that likely will become a reality in the lives of today’s students.

Far-fetched investments like those Google is making serve as a reminder that we are preparing students for careers not yet imagined. With crystal balls in short supply, how are school leaders expected to design educational systems that meet the needs of the next generation’s workforce? A good start to answer that question is keeping an eye on the innovations championed by the National School Boards Association’s “20 to Watch” educators.

Since 2006, NSBA has solicited nominations each year across the ranks of teachers, administrators, board members, technology specialists, university faculty, and consultants who are driving technology innovation through their roles as emerging leaders in the K-12 community. Their curious nature, their ability to inspire colleagues, and their passion for looking at how technology can positively impact the learning environment are the key criteria used by the review team comprised of previous “20 to Watch” honorees.

There is a growing realization that skills identified by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills as the “4 C’s” (critical thinking, collaboration, communication and creativity) will be even more important than acquiring a solid foundation in reading and math in this less well-defined future.

Our “20 to Watch” are putting their heads together in dozens of schools around the nation to explore how technology resources can effectively enhance traditional content, enable students to develop expertise in the 4 C’s, and in some places, even offer entirely new delivery models.

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