Chicago area tech director prepares for cloud-based digital learning intiatives

Keith Bockwoldt, like many technology directors at large U.S. school districts, has his sights set on the cloud.

The director of technology services at suburban Chicago’s Township High School District 214, the second largest high school district in Illinois, has already developed an internal cloud for his 32-person IT Team, dating back to 2012.

But he envisions a number of benefits for the district’s nearly 12,000 students and 1,675 faculty, as well as his IT staff, by moving to the cloud.

By going off-premises to the cloud, Bockwoldt is hoping to “offload some workloads” of his staff, he told EdScoop in recent interview.

Working smarter, rather than harder, will be crucial for Bockwoldt and his staff as schools continue to transition toward digital instruction.

Bockwoldt acknowledges that a cloud transition isn’t an immediate necessity, and that they can renew their current five-year-old internal cloud for a few more years. However, certain factors such as cost and security require a review now in preparation for a permanent cloud transition.

Fortunately for Bockwoldt and his team, he has a set of guidelines, recently released by the Consortium of School Networking (CoSN) that “have served as a great primer” for early consideration of what it would mean to make the switch, he said.

View more of EdScoop’s interviews with innovative school CIOs.

Operationally, Bockwoldt says he has also been focused on supporting his district’s digital learning initiative and developing a technology plan for the future. The digital learning initiative, along with a one-to-one program that is “embedded in mobile learning technology,” has allowed students and teachers to introduce new methods of learning into the classroom at their own pace.

Bockwoldt has witnessed the results firsthand. “The teachers are adapting to the change and embracing it. When I walk into classrooms, I see the way that kids are learning and connecting to the world.”

The digital initiative also means an influx of new devices into the district, however, and educating students and teachers on cybersecurity will be imperative to the continued health of the district’s network, he said.

Having served on the CoSN committee’s for cybersecurity, Bockwoldt always has an eye on cybersecurity and privacy.

“We have a team that meets once a month, and we talk about cybersecurity in the district – things we need to raise awareness on, things we need to take care of in our environment and… the privacy piece too.” Bockholdt said.

Bockwoldt anticipates major changes in pedagogy and traditional school systems with the advancement of digital learning. Consequently, it’s important to keep asking, “What technologies are out there that are going to support this change?”

Ryan Johnston contributed to this report.