Jerry Bradford has worn various hats at the Washington County Career Center since starting as a part-time instructor in 1995.
After serving as customized training coordinator for more than 10 years, in 2012 he took on the role of chief information officer. He's tasked with providing the latest technology to students and making sure the instructors know how to not only use that technology but make the most of it.
Question: How did you get started at the Career Center?
Answer: I was actually doing an internship at Eramet at the time. This lady (teaching classes for the Career Center there) kept popping her head out and asking questions. ... She said, 'You seem to have a knack for this; would you be interested in teaching some classes for me?' ... She just kept finding more stuff for me to teach, and I kept saying yes, yes, yes.
Q: What are your duties as chief information officer?
A: One of my roles, along with overseeing ... the secondary and adult education programs technology-wise, is to work to make sure I implement technology in the classroom whenever possible. I work with the teachers, trying to meet their needs and show them cool and exciting ways to do new things. ... Students expect technology in the classroom. So we just want to make sure our teachers are ready to deliver it.
Family: Wife, Stacy; daughters, Shallyn, 10, and Morgan, 7.
Occupation: Chief information officer, Washington County Career Center.
Experience: Started as part-time instructor in 1995; worked as PC technician and in customized training; customized training coordinator from 2002 to 2012.
Q: You run a program called "Tech Tuesdays." What is that?
A: Tech Tuesdays here at the career center is a way we train staff on new technology. It could be Windows 8, which we've introduced across campus. We introduced Office 13. ... The teachers are actually leading the discussion now. Each week I'm having a new teacher show the rest of the group what they're doing in their classroom with technology and how they're being successful.
Q: What are some ways newer technology is being integrated into the classrooms?
A: We have an English teacher using Edmodo, which is kind of like a Facebook site for schools. ... They can set up tests, quizzes, lesson plans, discussion forums, and it's all using an interface that's very familiar because it looks and acts ... like Facebook. His kids are loving that.
We have a math teacher who's using Microsoft Lynk. ... So think like MSN Messenger but for the business. One of the features he uses with that is the ability to share desktops across the classroom. So if (at) any point a student wants to write on his whiteboard, they can do that from their laptop. ... And it gives students a method to communicate to the teacher that isn't necessarily being shouted across the classroom. ... Now they can instant message the teacher, and he can go directly to them.
We're going to be (doing) a session next week on an English teacher who uses her WordPress blog for writing assignments. ... In both of these examples, Edmodo and WordPress, students can't forget their homework ... because it's in the cloud.
Q: What technological advances are on the horizon for the career center?
A: Two of the big buzzwords in technology in schools right now are "bring your own device" and "one-to-one computing" (one device for every student). As part of that we'll be improving the infrastructure at the school this summer so we can handle whatever wireless or wired resources may be necessary. We're evaluating a wide range of Chromebooks, tablets. We have them in teachers' hands right now so they can evaluate ... what works, what doesn't, apps, usage. The worst thing we could do is just buy a piece of technology and just throw it in the classroom. ... It'd be the same thing as if we put a piano at every desk. ... You might have one student that figures out how to play it themselves, but everybody else is going to need training.
When you look at technology, typically the kids know how to do it. You have much more training for the staff.
Evan Bevins conducted this interview.