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

CeCTO was created for that reason.

Certified Educational Chief Technology Officer (CeCTO) serves as model technology certification program in the United States. Offered through a partnership between the N.C. Department of Public Instruction, UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology and MCNC, the program kicked off its fourth year in February 2013 with 23 candidates.

Since 2010, this pioneering program has added 83 CeCTOs and Leaders of the 21st Century in North Carolina schools.

Instruction for CeCTO 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 track supplemented with required collaborative sessions with CeCTO candidates. CeCTOs participate in 240 hours of instruction spanning February to November.

UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology Director Shannon Tufts informed participants on the first day of instruction this year that there is not a lot of theory taught in the course, but practical application of the research.

“The bringing together of the school superintendents and the technology officers has really been one the selling points, and we wish we could replicate that in every program because it’s not often that they get to sit in the same room together and hear the same challenges … it makes this really unique,” she said.

CeCTO gives school administrators the necessary knowledge, skills and confidence to effectively use and manage technology in schools for the 21st century. Training covers topics such as strategic planning, emerging tech trends, risk assessment and management, acquisitions, legal and security issues, financial trends, and much more.

Maurice Ferrell another instructor for the course at UNC School of Government’s Center for Public Technology says the program gives participants a new way to connect with peers while helping them establish the core competencies they need for assessing and addressing some of the critical issues facing school IT leaders today.

“We’re very excited to start our fourth cohort and to continue the efforts of this program,” Ferrell said. “In this cohort we are planning to continue our efforts in improving technology within the State of North Carolina.”

The overall reaction from participants this year and in years past remains positive, and most who complete the program hope to see a refresher course or a continuation of the program in the years to come.

The Class of 2013 is currently underway with graduation set for November.