District hires new chief technology officer

The Laguna Beach Unified School District has hired Mike Morrison as its new chief technology officer to replace Sean Colt, who resigned earlier this year.

Morrison, who starts March 10, will oversee information technology needs for the district, including instructional uses.

"He has the technical skills, was a teacher and understands the instructional implications of education technology," said Leisa Winston, director of human resources at the district. "He has a great vision for where technology and education is going."

Candidates went through a series of interviews, including one by a panel of parents, teachers and school administrators. The district approved Morrison as the new chief technology officer earlier this month.

Morrison, who has eight years of teaching experience, spent the last 17 years as the chief technology officer at Saddleback Valley Unified School District.

Morrison's familiarity with California's new student assessment system, referred to as the California Assessment of Student Performance and Progress, which took effect Jan. 1, was another reason for his hire, Winston said.

"This year is the pilot year for the program and is the first year that assessments are online," Winston said. "We want to enable our staff and have the planning pieces done, but also make sure our students will have adequate keyboarding systems."

This year will essentially be a practice year to give the district time to work out the logistics for the real thing in 2015, Morrison said.

The pilot assessment window varies by district but will start next month and last until June, Winston said.

The biggest challenge for Morrison will be making sure students have one-to-one computer access to technology, he said.

Another challenge will be enhancing curriculum with technology. The approach, he said, will be to look at specific grade levels and subjects and identify what fits best with those levels.

The Common Core State Standards — a slate of new learning requirements — call for leadership skills in its technology standards, Morrison said.

"Part of my vision is to focus on creating global leaders," he said. "I believe our students need to have experiences collaborating with distant peers in other countries. I will endeavor to prepare LBUSD students to succeed in tomorrow's world by engaging our students in real challenges and problems."

Morrison, who will start at an annual salary of $152,331, comes from a family of educators, including his wife, parents, brother and father-in-law.

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