Good technology solves the why - Insights from Brian Gray

Niklas Borgström
Niklas Borgström

In the recent episode “Good Technology Solves the Why,” part of the Digiexam Dialogues: Voices of Innovation series, host John DiMaria sat down with Brian Gray, Technology Systems Administrator at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School in Austin, Texas, and a 2024 Blackbaud Community All-Star. The conversation delved deep into the pivotal role of technology in education, highlighting the importance of aligning tech solutions with the fundamental needs of teachers and students.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcast and YouTube


The Why Behind Educational Technology

Gray emphasized that good technology in education is not just about the tools themselves but about addressing the essential “why” behind teaching and learning challenges. He shared that the right technology should solve specific problems and enhance the educational process, rather than just adding complexity. This philosophy drives the technology decisions at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School, ensuring that any new tool or system implemented genuinely contributes to the school’s educational goals.

Practical Tips for Selecting the Right Tools

  1. Identify the Core Needs: Gray suggests starting by understanding the core needs of the educators and students. What problems are they facing, and how can technology address these issues?

  2. Scalability and Manageability: Evaluate how well a tool can scale to accommodate the entire school if needed. Consider the manageability of the tool in terms of both technical support and user training.

  3. Cost-Benefit Analysis: Conduct a thorough cost-benefit analysis. It’s not just about the upfront cost but also the long-term maintenance and training costs.

  4. User-Friendly Interface: Choose tools that are intuitive and easy to use, minimizing the learning curve for both teachers and students.

Leveraging Community and Collaboration

Gray highlighted the value of community and collaboration in making informed technology decisions. He recommended:

  • Engaging in Professional Networks: Join forums and discussion groups related to educational technology. These platforms can provide firsthand insights and recommendations from other educators and tech administrators.
  • Sharing Experiences: Sharing successes and challenges with peers can lead to discovering innovative solutions and best practices.
  • Learning from Others: By understanding what has worked (or not) for other schools, institutions can make more informed decisions about their technology investments.


Balancing Tradition and Innovation

One key takeaway from the conversation was the importance of balancing traditional educational practices with innovative technologies. Gray shared practical examples:

  • Evolution of Classroom Tools: From the early days of AV carts to modern projectors and laptops, the evolution of classroom tools demonstrates how technology can be integrated to support, rather than disrupt, traditional teaching methods.
  • Focus on Pedagogy: Technology should enhance the pedagogical approach, not dictate it. Effective tech integration allows educators to maintain their teaching style while leveraging new tools to improve student engagement and outcomes.

Strategic Implementation and Change Management

Gray also discussed the challenges of implementing new technologies and the importance of strategic change management:

  • Inclusive Decision-Making: Involve various stakeholders, including teachers, administrators, and IT staff, in the decision-making process to ensure that all perspectives are considered.
  • Phased Rollouts: Implement new technologies in phases to manage the transition smoothly and address any issues that arise during the initial stages.
  • Ongoing Support and Training: Provide continuous training and support to help educators integrate new tools effectively into their teaching practices.

Looking Forward

As educational technology continues to advance, Gray envisions a future where schools can leverage these tools even more effectively to enhance student learning experiences. He believes that by keeping the focus on the “why” and continuously adapting to changing needs, schools can create dynamic and responsive educational environments.


This insightful episode of “Good Technology Solves the Why” offers valuable perspectives on the strategic integration of technology in education. Brian Gray’s expertise and thoughtful approach provide a roadmap for schools looking to harness the power of technology to address real educational challenges and improve outcomes for both teachers and students.