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[My Leadership Day post this year introduces a new tool, trudacot, that we have been using to facilitate productive conversations with educators about technology-infused learning and teaching…]
We’ve got a lot of technology floating around our schools and classrooms these days. And while that can and should be a good thing given the digital age in which we now live, we often find that our technology-related efforts aren’t paying off for us as we had hoped. There are many reasons why this is true, but a main one is that we don’t have great ways to think about what’s occurring when we see students and teachers using technology for learning and teaching purposes.
TPACK and SAMR are the two main technology integration frameworks being used right now. While conceptually useful, both of them have their limitations. Neither are very specific when it comes to helping teachers think about what to change to make their technology integration better. The SAMR levels have the additional challenge of apparently meaning very different things to different people (I have witnessed on numerous occasions a particular usage of technology placed in all four SAMR levels by educator audiences). Resources like the TPACK activity types help with some of this, but my colleague, Julie Graber, and I were looking for something different. Failing to find what we wanted, we decided to make our own…
Starting with purpose
Technology integration should be purposeful. That very simple statement is at the heart of the trudacot template. When we use digital technologies for learning and teaching, those uses should be intentional and targeted and not simply ‘tech for tech’s sake.’ My team continually asks the question, ‘Technology for the purpose of what?’ With that in mind, Julie and I set out to create a template of questions that would allow educators to think critically – and purposefully – about their technology integration.
For example, if a class activity was using learning technologies for the purpose(s) of enhancing personalization or enabling greater student agency and choice, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:
- Learning Goals. Who selected what is being learned?
- Learning Activity. Who selected how it is being learned?
- Assessment of Learning. Who selected how students demonstrate their knowledge and skills and how that will be assessed?
- Work Time. During the lesson/unit, who is the primary driver of the work time?
- Technology Usage. Who is the primary user of the technology?
In contrast, if a lesson pulled in digital tools for the purpose(s) of enhancing student communication / connection, and perhaps even facilitating collaboration across locations, we would ask very different questions. The types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:
- Audience. How are students communicating? If with others, with whom? [students in this school / students in another school / adults in this school / adults outside of this school]
- Communication Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate the communication processes? [writing / photos and images / charts and graphs / infographics / audio / video / multimedia / transmedia]
- Collaborators. How are students working? If with others, who is managing collaborative processes (planning, management, monitoring, etc.)
- Collaborative Technologies. Are digital technologies being used to facilitate collaborative processes? If yes, in which ways? [online office suites, email, texting, wikis, blogs, videoconferencing, mindmapping, curation tools, project planning tools, other]
Similarly, if teachers wanted students to use technology for the purpose(s) of enabling them to do more authentic, real world work, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished would be different from those previous and might include:
- Real or Fake. Is student work authentic and reflective of that done by real people outside of school?
- Domain Knowledge. Are students learning discipline-specific and -appropriate content and procedural knowledge? If yes, is student work focused around big, important concepts central to the discipline? [not just minutiae]
- Domain Practices. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate practices and processes?
- Domain Technologies. Are students utilizing discipline-specific and -appropriate tools and technologies?
And if a lesson or unit integrated learning technologies for the purpose(s) of facilitating students’ deeper thinking, creativity, or metacognition, the types of questions that we would ask to see if those purposes were being accomplished might include:
- Deeper Thinking. Do student learning activities and assessments go beyond facts, procedures, and/or previously-provided ways of thinking? [e.g., ‘syntheses’ or ‘analyses’ that actually are just regurgitations]
- Creativity. Do students have the opportunity to design, create, make, or otherwise add value that is unique to them?
- Initiative. Do students have the opportunity to initiate, be entrepreneurial, be self-directed, and/or go beyond given parameters of the learning task or environment?
- Metacognition. Do students have the opportunity to reflect on their planning, thinking, work, and/or progress? If yes, can students identify what they’re learning, not just what they’re doing?
August 15 is the 8th anniversary of my blog. So, once again, I’m inviting everyone who’s interested to help me celebrate by participating in Leadership Day 2014!
Over the past 7 years, we’ve had nearly 500 Leadership Day posts. That’s awesome because, to paraphrase what I said seven years ago,
many of our school leaders (principals, superintendents, central office administrators) need help when it comes to digital technologies. A lot of help, to be honest. As I’ve noted again and again on this blog, most school administrators are still struggling with
- what it means to prepare students for the digital, global world in which we now live;
- how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
- what appropriate technology support structures (e.g., budget, staffing, infrastructure, training) look like or how to implement them;
- how to utilize modern technologies to facilitate communication with internal and external stakeholders;
- the ways in which learning technologies can improve student learning outcomes;
- how to utilize technology systems to make their organizations more efficient and effective;
- and so on…
Administrators’ lack of knowledge is not entirely their fault. Many of them didn’t grow up with computers. Other than basic management or data analysis technologies, many are not using digital tools or online systems on a regular basis. Few have received training from their employers or their university preparation programs on how to use, think about, or be a leader regarding digital technologies.
So let’s help.
How to participate
- On Friday, August 15, 2014, blog about whatever you like related to effective digital leadership in schools: successes, challenges, reflections, needs, wants, resources, ideas, etc. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video or a voice-narrated presentation. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Create an app, game, or simulation. Draw a cartoon. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. If you participated in years past, post a follow-up reflection. Whatever strikes you.
- The official hashtag is #leadershipday14
- TO ENSURE THAT WE CAN FIND YOUR POST, please complete the online submission form (also available below) AFTER you post, including a short teaser that will drive traffic to your post. Everyone then will be able to see your post in the complete list of submissions. If you want to link back to this post or leave a link to yours in the comment area, that’s okay too!
Some prompts to spark your thinking
- What do effective P-12 technology leaders do? What actions and behaviors can you point to that make them effective leaders in the area of technology?
- Do administrators have to be technology-savvy themselves in order to be effective technology leaders in their organizations?
- What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that administrators can take to move their school organizations forward?
- What are some tangible, concrete, realistic steps that can be taken to move administrators themselves forward? Given the unrelenting pressures that they face and their ever-increasing time demands, what are some things that administrators can do to become more knowledgeable and skilled in the area of technology leadership?
- Perhaps using ISTE’s Standards for Administrators (formerly the NETS-A) as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
- What strengths and deficiencies are present in ISTE’s Standards for Administrators?
- What are some of the biggest challenges and barriers to administrators being better technology leaders (and how do we address them)?
- What are some of the lessons that we have learned over the past year(s) regarding technology leadership?
- What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he or she probably isn’t using now)?
- What should busy administrators be reading (or watching) that would help them be better technology leaders? What are some other resources that would help them be better technology leaders?
- How can administrators best structure necessary conversations with internal or external stakeholders regarding technology?
- How should administrators balance enablement with safety, risk with reward, fear with empowerment?
- When it comes to P-12 technology leadership, where do we need new knowledge, understanding, training, or research?
- What are (or might be) some successful models of technology leadership training for school administrators?
- How might preservice preparation programs for administrators better incorporate elements of technology leadership?
- When you think of (in)effective P-12 technology leadership, what comes to mind?
Here are the 491 ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT posts from the past seven years (491!)
- Leadership Day 2007 - Summary (22 posts)
- Leadership Day 2008 - Summary (30 posts)
- Leadership Day 2009 - Summary spreadsheet (104 posts)
- Leadership Day 2010 - Final list, some highlights, summary spreadsheet (114 posts)
- Leadership Day 2011 - Summary spreadsheet (83 posts)
- Leadership Day 2012 - Summary spreadsheet (72 posts)
- Leadership Day 2013 - Summary spreadsheet (66 posts)
A badge for your blog or web site
This year’s badge is themed around harnessing powerful ideas. Click on the image to get the full-size version. Feel free to use it as desired!
I hope you will join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it’s not going to happen.
Alan November said:
Perhaps the weakest area of the typical one-to-one computing plan is the complete absence of leadership development for the administrative team – that is, learning how to manage the transition from a learning ecology where paper is the dominant technology for storing and retrieving information, to a world that is all digital, all the time.
No argument here! See, for example:
- Coming out swinging (my very first blog post)
- Professional development for the leaders
- Iowa – Invest in leadership
- A technology broadside against school leadership preparation programs
- Supporting effective technology integration and implementation [PRE-PRINT]
Justin Schwamm said:
Two decades ago, before the great push for higher standards and more accountability, there was a tacit agreement in most factory-model schools: “Just close my door,” said Ms. X, “and let me teach, and don’t bother me because I’m busy.” “Just keep them busy and quiet,” responded her Powers That Be, “and show up for the Special Training and the Scheduled Meeting, and make sure the Relevant Paperwork is in the file.” Within that tacit agreement lay a great deal of freedom and opportunity … for innovation or for more of the Same Old Same Old. As the Relevant Paperwork was complete and the busy, quiet students weren’t roaming the hallways, teachers and students could be as innovative and creative as they wanted.
But then came higher standards and more accountability … and in themselves, those aren’t bad things. But if you operate from a hierarchical individual point of view about leadership and learning, the only logical pathway to higher standards is to command and control them into existence … and the only way to achieve accountability is to ramp up the inspection and testing. I was intrigued to see an article from EdSurge about how and why Rocketship Education moved away from an experiment they’d tried this year … an experiment that seemed to produce positive results of various kinds. The problem? “The lack of a formal structure made it difficult for Rocketship to replicate and control quality,” especially with younger teachers who “rely on pre-determined schedules and procedures, with clearly defined expectations about their work, in order to focus on building basic teaching skills.”
In other words, the promising innovation didn’t fit the existing institutional structure. If you’ve ever worked in a hierarchical structure, you know how important it is to preserve the structure. It takes a great deal of work by Relevant Powers to make anything else as important as preserving the structure.
David Brooks said:
Some monads withdraw back into the purity of their own subcultures. But others push themselves into the rotting institutions they want to reinvent. If you are looking for people who are going to be creative in the current climate, I’d look for people who are disillusioned with politics even as they go into it; who are disenchanted with contemporary worship, even as they join the church; who are disgusted by finance even as they work in finance. These people believe in the goals of their systems but detest how they function. They contain the anxious contradictions between disillusionment and hope.
in every dialectic, there is a search for creative synthesis. Or, as Albert Einstein put it, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.”
Are you selling a vision of student empowerment? Of kids as autonomous, self-directed learners who are thinking deeply, collaborating to make societal contributions, and using digital technologies to do powerful, meaningful, and authentic work?
Or are you selling a vision of recall and regurgitation? Of kids as passive listeners, masters of basic skills, and completers of worksheets, end-of-chapter review questions, and bubble tests?
Or maybe you’re selling a vision of fear? Of students as untrustworthy, of the Internet as dangerous, and of technology as a nuisance, a distraction, and the cause of numerous social evils?
Or perhaps you’re selling a vision of compliance? Of policy mandates and directives, of educators and schools as helpless victims, of students as voiceless, powerless recipients of “do what we tell you or else” educational systems?
Which vision is more in line with the realities of today and tomorrow? Which vision – future-oriented or nostalgic, progressive or replicative, brave or fearful, innovative or compliant – better meets the needs of kids and society?
Which vision are you selling? (and which one do your kids and community deserve?)
We’ve got to decide if our vision for educational technology is around replication or empowerment. And if it’s about empowerment, then guess what? We’ve got to give up the things that we do that feed replication. We can’t hang on to all of those and get to where we’re trying to go.
What are we going to give up?
Here’s a working hypothesis:
The organizations that most need change agents probably are the least likely to hire them because change agents typically make people with non-change orientations scared or nervous. If the people within were already oriented toward change and innovation, their organizations wouldn’t be the ones in the most need of change agents.
So a change- and innovation-oriented job candidate has a steep uphill battle to get considered and hired. The challenge is how to get people on hiring committees in non-change-oriented institutions to recognize the value of hiring for innovation, not replication…
Got any thoughts on this?