By WRAL Tech Wire STEM News

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. – The third year of the Certified educational Chief Technology Officer (CeCTO) program begins this week in Chapel Hill.

CeCTO is offered through a partnership between the N.C. Department of Public Instruction (NCDPI), UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology, and MCNC. The 2012 course begins Tuesday and Wednesday at UNC.

Last year, 21 school technology directors along with three representatives from NCDPI successfully completed the CeCTO program. Since it began in 2010, North Carolina has added a total of 58 CeCTOs throughout the state.

CeCTO is one of the nation’s first technology-centered certification programs for educators and features two components – one for superintendents and one for technology directors.

Superintendents participate in the “Leaders for the 21st Century” program – a 20-hour instructional course supplemented with required collaborative sessions with CeCTO candidates. Technology officers participate in 240 hours of instruction spanning from February through November. This 10-month track helps establish the core competencies IT leaders need in today’s education environment.

The 2012 convening session with both school superintendents and technology directors participating begins Tuesday at 9 a.m. On Wednesday, CeCTO candidates for 2012 will deep dive into course work.

The two days of activities this week will feature panel discussions from previous course graduates, lectures on transformational leadership, the impacts of technology in K-12, understanding the enterprise with a holistic approach to IT investments and much more as well as goal alignments for the course.

The CeCTO program was added in 2010 as a new offering in the nationally-acclaimed Certified Government Chief Information Officers (CGCIO) series, which was pioneered by the UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology. The CGCIO program started in 2005 and was one of the first of its kind in the nation and has successfully graduated more than 400 public sector IT professionals across the country.

Instruction for the CeCTO course covers topics such as strategic technology planning, communications, project management, emerging trends, risk assessment and management, acquisition management, change management, leadership, security, legal issues, and financial trends. UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology Director Shannon Tuft is one of the CeCTO instructors and says the program provides invaluable education and training for superintendents and technology officers.

As the world becomes an increasingly digital society, the expectations of school leaders have evolved. Technology is an integral component of a 21st century education, and requires school leaders to possess the knowledge and skills to ensure they are using technology in the most effective and productive ways possible.

The CeCTO program was created for that reason.

CeCTO goes through November with classes meeting monthly as well as on online.

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