What do we know about effective school tech leadership?

Effective school technology implementation and use does not occur if there is not effective leadership in place to make it happen. It takes a lot of resources, coordination, vision, and passion to bring technology into an organization to make a positive impact on learning and teaching. The school leader is the key player in these areas.

Successful school technology leadership looks like general effective school leadership, with several factors found in transformational leadership practices also being important in technology leadership (Yee, 2000). A key factor was a leader’s focus on student learning when planning for technology use in schools (McKenzie, 2001; Yee, 2000). Harper (2006) added to this by showing that involving students in technology planning and implementation can increase their engagement, which has a positive effect on their learning and achievement.

Professional development and responsive technical support were both identified by McKenzie (2001) and Yee (2000) as essential elements in the use of technology in schools. Harper (2006) suggested that students can play important roles in both of these areas as many students have very good tech skills and can give teachers ideas on how to use technology for instruction and learning. Students can also be a great option for providing technical support to school staff members (Harper, 2006). Using students in these roles also helps satisfy the need for school leaders to be creative and thoughtful resource seekers and suppliers, a factor mentioned by both McKenzie (2001) and Yee (2000).

Yee (2000) explained the importance of effective professional development for staff, and McKenzie (2001) describes some key PD features for making it beneficial for adult learners. In my experience, professional development for school staff ignores the important aspects of reaching adult learners. Many PD sessions involve too much “sit and get,” but adults need to be able to learn while actually implementing the newly learned skills (McKenzie, 2001). Our school staff should have the opportunity to learn “by doing and exploring…by trying” (McKenzie, 2001, p. 6). Utilizing in-house tech coaches who can quickly answer questions and provide support is also an effective approach to making sure the PD has an impact on student learning (McKenzie, 2001).

Once you have all of your plans underway, it is important to make sure staff members are actually following through on these well-thought out plans (McKenzie, 2001; Yee, 2000). Leaders need to monitor use of technology by their staff members, and then appropriately react if they see actions (or inactions) that don’t align with the vision. Use of technology should be a part of teacher growth plans and goals, and effective technology use (by students and teachers) should be evident when leaders observe what is happening in their schools (McKenzie, 2001).

Harper, D. (2006). Vision to action: Adding student leadership to your technology plan [white paper]. Olympia, WA: Generation Yes.

McKenzie, J, (2001). How teachers learn technology best. Retrieved from http://staffdevelop.org/howteacherslearn.html

Yee, D. (2000). Images of school principals’ information and communications technology leadership. Journal of Information Technology for Teacher Education,9(3), 287-302. Doi: 10.1080/14759390000200097

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