Here’s How Innovators Stay Innovative

Bob Nilsson Director, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 26 Jun 2018


Bloggers and social media play important role for education IT leaders

 If you have time for only three innovative sources of educational tech news, these are the three:

We asked the most innovative CIOs and IT managers in education how they learn about the very latest technology breakthroughs for their industry. They all said how important it is to track new developments; half claim it is critical that they do so. The channels and methods they use are remarkably consistent. Here’s how they do it.

As in many industries, education CIOs learn from each other about what’s coming and what works. They keep tight networks, meeting at conferences, user groups, and through social media to compare notes on emerging technologies. Personal contact is supplemented with a refined set of high-value blogs and newsletters. Meanwhile, the role of traditional trade publications and industry analysts has continued to diminish.

How education IT managers learn about new bleeding-edge technologies?


Conferences Are The #1 Source For New Educational Technology

Education industry conferences certainly provide a good forum to both see the latest tech and compare notes with peers. For that reason, they stand well above all other avenues for learning about breaking technology trends. It is no surprise that Educause and ISTE are the two most frequently cited conferences; with many managers attending both. Next come the regional EdTech conferences, including OETC, AIMS, LACUE, KYSTE, TCEA, CETPA, AzTEA, FETC, Brainstorm, EduTECH, VSTE, AETC, Techspo, MACUL. Higher education IT managers also called out broadly-targeted technology conferences, including VMworld, Interop, and Supercomputing as important to keeping up with technology trends.

CES, the giant consumer electronics show attended by 170,000 people each year, has become the event for unveiling innovation on a grand scale. According to the survey, it’s an important source for education IT managers as more of them are now drawing from the consumer technology world to equip their campuses. The survey found that 54% of IT managers evaluate emerging consumer technology for use in their schools.

Blogs and Social Media

Blogs were ranked as the second most important channel for staying on top of technology.  Many respondents more generally called out social media as their means to stay informed. Twitter (technically a micro-blogging platform) was the most-often mentioned “other” medium.

These blogs received the most mentions and recommendations.

Top Education Technology Twitter Accounts

Richard Byrne@rmbyrne
Alice Keeler @alicekeeler
Marcie Hebert@mrsmhebert 
Leslie Fisher@lesliefisher
Kasey Bell@ShakeUpLearning
Alice Keeler@alicekeeler
Stephen Foskett@SFoskett
Robin Harris@StorageMojo
Kathy Schrock@kathyschrock


User Groups

User groups are regionally-organized around a particular industry and function, and tend to exchange information through online forums. Many user groups regularly meet in person. Participation in user groups ranked as the third most used means to keep up with emerging technology.

The major national edtech organizations ISTE and Educause have special interest groups (SIGs) that fall into this category. These are some of the other user groups cited by IT managers:


Monthly, weekly or daily updates delivered by email can be a way to stay abreast of technology developments. The first one listed below is specifically for the education industry. The others cut across industries, but cover technology that often can be applied within education.


Education Industry Trade Publications

Traditional trade publications have all but faded away as a source of breaking industry news. To stay relevant, they have spawned blogs by their leading analysts and also send out regular news emails. Print versions have been relegated to conference hand-outs, briefly scanned then tossed into the trash to reduce travel weight. These are the publications called out, presumably for their blogs and newsletters

K-12: Tech &Learning, THE Journal, District Administrator, eSchool News.

Higher Education IT Trade Publications: Campus Technology, eCampus News, Eduwire,

These publications provide education coverage outside of IT: Edutopia, Edsurge, edWeb

These online publications covering innovation were frequently cited by CIOs and IT managers in the survey:

Also mentioned, were these technology-oriented publications that do not focus specifically on the education industry: Maximum PC, PC World, KMWorld, EWeek, InformationWeek, InfoWorld, ZDNET, and Network World.

Industry Analysts

Although analysts as a group are not a primary source of emerging innovative technology among education IT CIOs and managers, the one most often mentioned by name is Gartner.

Other Channels

Proving that email is indeed not dead yet, a number of IT managers specifically mentioned it in the “other” category. This would appear to overlap with newsletters, which are often delivered by email and were ranked as the fourth most-used channel for bleeding-edge technology information.

The following were also mentioned as “other” sources.

  • Podcasts (mentioned several times)
  • Word of mouth
  • Other users, peers, friends and colleagues, networking
  • Webinars
  • Web sites
  • Consultants
  • Magazines and newspapers


Top Three Ways To Stay On Top Of Broad Technology Breakthroughs

Looking for the best ways to stay at the forefront of technology? Here are the top three sources of breaking technology news not specifically targeting the education industry, as recommended by CIOs and IT managers in education:



Profile of an Education IT Manager and Innovator

How important is it that you stay on top of emerging leading/ bleeding edge technology related to your industry?

Critical to our organization and to my success

How do you learn about new bleeding-edge technologies?

Conferences: Educause, ISTE, CETPA
User Groups: SIGCSE, ACUTA
Newsletters or blogs: Future Trends in Technology and Education, Extreme Networks Higher Ed Digest, TechCrunch, engadget,

What types of hands-on evaluations of new, unproven technologies do you use? (Check all that apply)

IT staff-only trials, sandbox testing, and pilots

How many evaluation projects do you typically run at the same time?

4 or more

When do you typically begin to evaluate new technologies?


Do you ever consider or evaluate consumer technology for possible use within your organization?


How do you keep your technology plan aligned with the strategic priorities of the greater organization?

We’ll try out any tech, but we only share ideas with administrators and teachers if we see a connection to greater strategic priorities.

Briefly describe the most recent leading-edge technology you evaluated, studied or reported on.

Science teacher and I are evaluating the Perfect Video app. Also looking into Double Robotics

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