Last October, Barak Obama promised that if he were elected, he would create a new cabinet-level position. Saying that the United States has not done nearly enough to tap into technology and its potential for creating new jobs, Obama proposed creating the position of Chief Technology Officer (CTO). Now, six months later, this promise has come to fruition. During his weekly address on April 18, President Obama announced that Aneesh Chopra will be the nation’s first CTO.
Currently serving as Secretary of Technology for the state of Virginia, Chopra’s new position comes with three goals that support the new administration’s top priorities. First, he is charged with promoting use of technology to support job creation. Second, Chopra is to explore ways technology use can be leveraged to reduce health care costs. Finally, he is to focus on use of technology to increase national security.
The business world sees this as a welcome step toward updating and expanding a national infrastructure that recently has received little attention. This sector also views this appointment as a commitment to returning the U.S. to a leadership role in technology-related advances worldwide. But what do educators think about this new position and the impact Mr. Chopra might have on bringing schools into the Digital Age?
Whether it happens in K-12 grades, post-secondary programs, or on-the-job training courses, every one of the three goals listed above must include an education component in order to be successfully implemented. How will education leaders take advantage of this fact to leverage resources and launch innovative programs designed to help the new CTO meet his goals? What related conversations are taking place in your school, district, or region? Share your ideas here.
We love to give political leaders nicknames. Here in California we have the Governator. Soon to arrive in Washington is the Technologizer. I’m sure when Barack Obama ran for President, he anticipated some nicknames, but likely not this one.
I am excited that we will welcome into the White House a real technology-savvy leader! And from one BlackBerry user to another, I’m thrilled that he has one, uses it, and actually ran a Presidential campaign with it. My elation has less to do with the product than with the technology itself. Connectivity of this sort is really linked to change. Not only does the nation as a whole need to embrace change, each of us does as well. Maybe our President-Elect’s leadership will be the impetus to get others to be more connected. (Perhaps he’ll even become the first president to serve as a celebrity spokesperson. He could make commercials for the “BlackBerry® solution” and donate the proceeds to public education! Oops, sorry. I digress.)
As I tout the need to embrace change, I do have a confession to make. Until two years ago, I had no idea what in the world a wiki or a podcast was. There are many other programs, gadgets, gizmos, and platforms about which I am equally clueless. As a Gen-Xer, it’s hard to admit this. Many people seem to assume that by birthright, I know and can explain it all. While I have my trusted TICAL cadre members around to assist when I can’t access our latest online collaboration tool, I wonder what others do when they get stuck with technology? After all, I’ve yet to hear someone at a dinner party proclaim, “What the heck is a wiki?”
When I began to plan an ACSA retreat this summer, I requested members provide suggested topics for professional development. Many responded with “technology.” They had the same admission that I did: so much is changing and at such rapid speed that its hard to keep up with it all. Where do you start? I was so thankful to get these suggestions, particularly from other Gen-Xers who I would have thought knew it all.
It helps to know that we have high level leaders in the country who “get it” because I think there will be hope for those of us who are expected to know it but just don’t. Obama’s campaign carried a message of “Yes We Can.” Here’s hoping he can also proclaim, “Yes I Can” and continue using his BlackBerry or any new other gadget that may come along during his years in the White House. It certainly would make those dinner party conversations much more lively.