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Social CIO Series: Susan M. Bearden, Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

“By far, the most important thing I have learned through social media is the value of crowdsourcing.”

“By far, the most important thing I have learned through social media is the value of crowdsourcing.”

Name: Susan M. Bearden
Title: Director of Information Technology
Organization: Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

1. Tell us a bit about your organization and what it is trying to accomplish.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy is an independent, college preparatory school in Melbourne, FL serving students in PreSchool-12th grade. We have 2 campuses and 871 students.

2. Tell us a bit about you and how you view your role as CIO.

At the operations level, my team’s job is to provide outstanding technology service and support to internal and external stakeholders. We are very customer service-oriented; my philosophy is that it is our job is to help everyone else in the organization do their jobs better. However, the CIO role goes far beyond that.

“I really like the phrase “Chief Innovation Officer” because that’s the lens through which I view my position.”

It’s my job to leverage the innovative use of technology to enhance learning outcomes, improve business processes, and drive student enrollment.

3. What were the key reasons you started to drive social into your organization?

Ultimately, it comes down to the needs of our students. We live in a global economy that demands innovative employees skilled in the 4 C’s: Critical Thinking/Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity. Our students must be able to collaborate with others via digital platforms, be they working with individuals in a neighboring town, across the country, or around the world. In order for our teachers to be able to teach these skills, they themselves must first know how to use the digital/social tools that make this type of collaboration possible.

4. How did the arrival of social interplay with your organization's culture?

Some individuals took to social media right away; others were (and are) more resistant. That’s to be expected. Organizational culture change is a gradual process.

5. How did you mitigate the change management aspects of introducing social?

Change is difficult, especially for those who are not comfortable with technology in general and social media in particular. To set up an organization for success, it is critical for leaders to model the skills and behaviors they expect employees to adopt. In addition, it’s important to realize that there will be bumps along the way and that’s OK! Instead of fearing the bumps, view them as valuable learning opportunities.

6. What do you see as your biggest social "win" so far, inside your organization?

My biggest “win” has been seeing teachers leverage the power of social media to improve their professional practice. It’s incredibly rewarding to hear of an inspiring lesson or collaborative learning opportunity that came about as a result of collaboration via social media.

7. What is your advice to traditional CIO's that are leery of "going social"? Any important lessons learned you would like to share?

Social media is here to stay; it’s not a fad. CIO’s need to understand the technologies that impact their organization, and that includes social media. Those who don’t are doomed to irrelevancy.

“If you don’t understand how to use a specific technology, you can’t possibly understand how to leverage, manage, or support it.”

It’s perfectly OK to start off by “lurking” in various social media channels – viewing the conversations without initially being an active participant. Lurking is learning. As you learn how people are using various social media platforms, you will become more comfortable with jumping in.

8. What question did you want to answer that we failed to ask?

Yes, "What is the most important thing you have learned through social media?"

By far, the most important thing I have learned through social media is the value of crowdsourcing.

As David Weinberger said, ”The smartest person in the room is the room.” Social media enables you to leverage the intellect of a really large room. That can be incredibly powerful, especially when there are smart people in the room!

About Jostle's CIO Series

At Jostle we recognize the importance of leadership in making social collaboration work inside of organizations. In fact, we are so passionate about it that we sought out some of the top social CIO’s in North America to participate in a Jostle Blog series that focuses on the challenges and successes of applying social tools. We are happy to share these success stories with you and we hope it inspires the social champion in all of you. If you know a Social CIO you feel should be included in this series, please contact us at CIO@jostle.me. There is no requirement that they be using the Jostle People Engagement® platform.

Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy

Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy is a private, coed, episcopal, traditional school in Melbourne, FL serving students in grades PK through 12. We have a strong tradition of providing an exceptional academic education founded in Christian values. Our reputation within the community speaks for itself. We are proud of our engaged and successful students, our professional faculty and staff, and our involved parents. For more information, visit http://www.htacademy.org/home

Kelly Batke

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