In Their Own Words: Utah's Ed Tech Leaders Share Thoughts on CETL

The Southwest Educational Development Center (SEDC), an educational service center located in Cedar City, Utah, received a grant from the Utah State Office of Education to help educational technology professionals in Utah earn the coveted CoSN Certified Educational Technology Leader (CETL) credential.

The grant funds covered the cost of the CoSN CETL online coursework and 40 exams for state leaders - 20 in the first year’s cohort and 20 in the second. The intent is to help Utah build its capacity to lead annually, by having the most recent Utah CETL cohort mentor a new cohort as they prepare together for the CETL certification exam.

As Utah is finishing up the first year, we currently have 11 leaders with their CETL credentials. The second year cohort is currently working and studying together bi-weekly using interactive video conferencing, the CoSN coursework, and other online tools; they plan to take the exam this summer. Utah hopes to have at least 30 educational technology professionals in the state with their CETL credential by the time school starts in the fall of 2016.  

Feedback about the CETL experience from Utah’s first year cohort: 

“The best part of the CETL certification for me was participation in our study groups and the discussion that was spawned by the CETL materials and the shared experiences of the participants. We were able to discuss each of the sections and how it related to our current assignments and the challenges and successes we were having in those areas. It really was a great community experience.”

— Tim Smith, Cache School District’s Chief Information Officer

“The best part of completing the CETL certification has been the collaboration, instruction, and discussions with my Utah colleagues. There are so many different ideas and tools (hardware and software) used to provide specific services to staff, students, and patrons; frequent conversation among technology leaders helps in determining the most sustainable methods to enact. 

Regular, focused instruction and collaboration on new and old topics, I feel, makes me a better leader. I would hope that as the CoSN CETL program grows, traditional educational administrators/executives and more importantly, the Utah State Office of Education, would look upon this certification for technology leaders comparable to an administrative endorsement. The CETL program has been an endeavor that has helped state the obvious - Utah has superb technology leaders.”

— Jim Langston, Tooele School District’s Information Technology Director

“My BEST experience was simply walking into the room the day of testing, and seeing who was there. It was a group I was honored to be a part of - these were some of the BEST people in education in the state.

The second best was the use of the IVC/Adobe Connect statewide monthly discussion sessions with the group. Having a cohort of peers who found time in their busy schedules to study/prep for the test was a morale boost each time we got together.

The last experience was personal. I was concerned about the three study sessions I missed, so I made personal audio recordings of the CoSN referenced materials and listened to them on my commute and on weekends. On my third time going through them, one morning walking by the river...things just sort of jelled in my mind. And I had this moment of clarity where I saw a different lens I needed to use when we were talking big picture issues in district admin meetings. It was pretty cool.

And it would not have happened if I hadn’t struggled through the CETL certification with those fine people.”

— Cody Spendlove, Alpine School District’s Educational Technology Director

“Some state legislators have wondered about the technology staff qualifications in public education around the state. The CETL certification, with its excellent framework and its rigorous certification process, provides a resounding and certified answer of "very qualified." 

I've worked at the state level in ed tech for two decades. The discussions I’ve participated in with both Utah cohort groups this past year around the CETL skills, responsibilities, and knowledge have been inspiring.”

— Kathleen Webb, Principal of the Utah Electronic High School

“CETL certifications came at a critical time in Utah, as our state legislators continue to wrestle with how to best fund the infrastructure needs for one-to-one as a state. CETLs have added support and credibility to the excellent group of technologists in districts around the state and the CETL framework has enhanced our conversations about best practices when implementing one-to-one.

CETL certification has been affirming and empowering for all who have participated in seeking this distinction. With this credential in hand, technology directors, CTOs, and CIOs around the state have reasserted their places at the table in discussing the role of technology in education.”

— Dave Long, Logan School District’s Director for Technology

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