I’m remixing some old and new thoughts for my participation in Scott Mcleod’s #leadershipday14.
I’ll start with my vision for what Technology leadership should be…
Effective school technology implementation does not occur if there is not effective leadership in place to make it happen. As Doc Mcleod himself said, “If the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.”
It takes vision, passion, resources, and coordination to bring technology (or any new tool) into an organization to make a positive impact on learning and teaching. The school leader is the key player in these areas. Leithwood and Riehl (2003) highlight the importance of school leadership by noting that it is second only to instruction from teachers when it comes to impacting student learning. Leaders set a vision, share the vision, outline expectations, make goals, and then monitor performance toward that vision (Leithwood & Riehl, 2003).
The school leader must have a solid understanding of best instructional practices and pay attention to the effects they have on student learning. The use of technology can be considered a best instructional practice, but tech use can’t be “business as usual with computers” (Bosco, 2003; p. 15). Flanagan and Jacobson (2003) share that, “Merely installing computers and networks in schools is insufficient for educational reform” (p. 125). We need to move past the focus on acquisition of resources, and put work into using those resources to have an impact on learning (Bosco, 2003).
This type of instructional shift is where leadership really matters. It’s not enough to own and install the shiny gadgets. We also have to know how to use them to impact student learning.
Professional development is essential for schools to move beyond the mere presence of computers, to effectively using them as a powerful teaching and learning tool. Flanagan and Jacobsen (2003) show how student technology use progresses from productivity, to foundational knowledge, to the desired level of using technology for communication, problem solving, and decision making. Staff members will need to make these progressions themselves before they will be able to help students do the same. Professional development is the means to make this happen. Not only should school leaders make staff development available, they can also help these changes occur by modeling appropriate use of technology themselves (Anderson & Dexter, 2005).
If we continue to add modern technological devices to outdated and ineffective educational practices, we will find ourselves stuck between two worlds that only hinder the growth of our students.
Anderson, R.E. & Dexter, S. (2005, February). School technology leadership: An empirical investigation of prevalence and effect. Educational Administration Quarterly, 41, (1), 49-82.
Bosco, J. (2003, February). Toward a balanced appraisal of educational technology in U.S. schools and a recognition of seven leadership challenges. Paper presented at the Annual K-12 School Networking Conference of the Consortium for School Networking, Arlington, VA.
Flanagan, L. & Jacobsen, M. (2003). Technology leadership for the twenty-first century principal. Journal of Educational Administration, 41(2), 124-142.
Leithwood, K.A. & Riehl, C. (2003, January). What We Know about Successful School Leadership. Retrieved from http://www.dcbsimpson.com/randd-leithwood-successful-leadership.pdf