(ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Virginia) – The Center for Digital Education, a national organization whose mission is to “nurture a community of thought leaders who are rethinking education with technology as the catalyst,” has named Ira Socol as one of its 30 top technologists, transformers and trailblazers.
Socol, who was appointed as the Interim Executive Director for Technologies and Innovation for Albemarle County Public Schools in July, was selected as part of a national group that the Center described as “moving the needle in K-12 and higher education thanks to their commitment to ensuring today’s students are armed with the necessary tools for learning.”
The Center said its honorees are “dedicated to transforming education at the local, state and national levels in ways that have a positive impact on student success.”
“This is well-deserved,” said Dr. Matthew Haas, the school division’s deputy superintendent. “Ira’s influence is felt in every one of our nearly 900 classrooms. He has, for example, been instrumental in the introduction and expansion of our one-to-one program, which provides all students in grades 3 through 12 with a dedicated computer. His leadership of our Ed Tech team provides teachers across our division with the opportunity to explore new technologies in learning labs and benefit from workshops with master teacher peers,” Dr. Haas added.
On a broad scale, Dr. Haas noted, Socol has been a leader of the Learning Space Innovation program, which is re-making the design of buildings and classrooms across the school division to facilitate contemporary learning. Such improvements include multiage program space development; cross-curricular team spaces; and the repurposing of school libraries into learning commons, including digital music studios, 3D printers, maker spaces, computer simulation and design stations, and creative writing centers.
“It is an honor to be selected for this recognition,” said Socol, “but the credit is earned by our entire divisional team, beginning with our superintendent, Dr. Pamela Moran. Our building principals, teachers and staff are the hands-on professionals who have enthusiastically championed the goal of putting students at the center of the learning process.”
Throughout his career in education, Socol has been an influential advocate for the need to radically change the four technologies of school—time, the division of students and content, spaces, and information and communication tools.
“The research shows,” Socol continued, “that learning increases when the environment supports student choice and comfort. That means adequate lighting in a classroom, variety in seating options, collaborative work spaces, and technology resources that broaden and equalize student access to information and services.”
In its introduction of its Class of 2017, the Center for Digital Education noted that, “bold decision-makers are the most valuable assets in education today.” It described its list of leaders from schools, colleges, universities, and other educational organizations as “visionaries.” A 2017 class listing is available at: http://www.centerdigitaled.com/top30/
Socol joined the division in 2010. Prior to coming to Albemarle County Public Schools, he taught at Michigan State and Grand Valley State universities and at the Pratt Institute. He also was a consultant for assistive technology for the Michigan Department of Energy, Labor and Economic Growth. His private sector experience includes service as a technology consultant and a design coordinator, and prior to that, he was a New York City police officer.
Socol received his Bachelor of Arts from Grand Valley State University and was in the Michigan State University (MSU) Doctoral Program. He holds certifications in Assistive Technology from the University of California at Northridge and in Employment Training from MSU.