Scott McLeod over at Dangerously ! Irrelevant is celebrating the 7th anniversary of his blog today and inviting educators to share views on effective school technology leadership on what he calls Leadership Day 2013.
In lots of way I have been fortunate in my district with technology–our administrators employ a person to provide tech support to troubleshoot problems, send me to trainings if I ask to go, and trust me to figure out what is best for my students. But I would say that those conditions are not enough to ensure participation of teachers who feel less confident with digital literacy and need more direction and support to implement robust technology use in their classrooms.
But instead of saying just how to support these teachers, in this post I will talk about the pieces of technology leadership that I feel are most often overlooked. They are two very different but very important aspects of digital literacy:
- Consideration of the impact of technology on student learning
- Leadership by example by being a user of digital tools
Consideration of the Impact of Technology on Student Learning
There seems to be lots of attention to hardware decisions in education–Macs or PCs, tablets or chrome books, smart boards, document cameras… The list goes on. And there’s lots of attention to software and applications and how technology supports teachers–ease of grading, presentation tools, record keeping… What is missing for me are meaningful conversations about the ways technology and digital literacy impact student learning. Instead of asking each other what apps to use on classroom iPads, I think we need to ask how digital tools support student learning. How can students transform information in ways that make it relevant and meaningful–and accessible in novel situations? Instead of deciding between Evernote and Notability, we need to have conversations about how and why students will use this type of application–and it probably doesn’t matter which you choose if you have reasons that support student learning.
Leadership by Example by Being a User of Digital Tools
What I notice from my own Professional Learning Network (PLN) on Twitter is that educators who are thinking about the ways digital tools impact student learning are also actively using digital tools for their own learning. They are blogging about their professional learning, tweeting articles and links about research and thinking about digital tools, they are experimenting with new ways to represent their own learning with video, digital photography, infographics, and other digital tools, and they are actively learning with and from other educators trying similar tools. I do see a few administrators and district leaders joining in this effort–and it seems that those who do have a bigger impact on the implementation of technology in their districts. The more district leaders use digital tools themselves, the better positioned they are to understand the benefits and challenges of them–and the potential implementation possibilities for use with students.
Our students will be using digital tools–they are pervasive in our lives. Our question as educators is how do we use these tools to support our students’ learning…and help our students (and ourselves) see and use these technologies in ways that make us all more thoughtful, efficient, and productive? Leadership is essential to successful implementation. I hope my suggestions give some food for thought for those in leadership positions for the implementation of technology in education.