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 don’t know
- what it means to prepare students for the 21st century;
- how to recognize, evaluate, and facilitate effective technology usage by students and teachers;
- what appropriate technology support structures (budget, staffing, infrastructure) 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. Most of them didn’t grow up with these technologies. Many are not using digital tools 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 them out.
In response to that post, on July 4, 2007 – American Independence Day – a number of you helped me celebrate independent (and hopefully innovative) thinking and leadership by blogging about effective school technology leadership:
A year later our leaders still need help, of course. So I am putting out a new call for people to participate in Leadership Day 2008.
On July 4, 2008, blog about whatever you like related to effective school technology leadership: successes, challenges, reflections, needs. Write a letter to the administrators in your area. Post a top ten list. Make a podcast or a video. Highlight a local success or challenge. Recommend some readings. Do an interview of a successful technology leader. Respond to some of the questions below or make up your own. Whatever strikes you. Please tag your post with these Technorati tags:
and/or link back to this post. If you don’t have a blog, comment on someone else’s post and/or send your thoughts to me and I will post them for you. I will do a summary afterward of what folks wrote and talked about [bloggers, this means some new readers probably will head your direction!].
Some prompts to spark your thinking
- What do effective K-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 can be taken to move administrators 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 the NETS-A as a starting point, what are the absolutely critical skills or abilities that administrators need to be effective technology leaders?
- What is a technology tool that would be extremely useful for a busy administrator (i.e., one he / she probably isn’t using now)?
- What should busy administrators be reading (or watching)?
A badge for your blog or web site
[click on image for larger version]
Please join us for this important day because, I promise you, if the leaders don’t get it, it isn’t going to happen.
Scott, one important hook for administrators would be to show what improvements in technology would support building and district goals that are already in place. Another question to answer before they ask is, “How is this going to affect student achievement?” Suggesting that technology be an end unto itself is going to not get us very far. Kids need to learn technology, yes. But our roles as technology leaders are greatly enhanced if we are able to approach them with those questions in mind.
BTW–love the graphic!
I love this annual tradition primarily because technology leadership is definitely a new idea for many school administrators. Shaping several mental models might just be the first step towards seeing meaningful uses of technology become common in our classrooms.
Here’s a few more possible prompts for people to consider:
1. In an era where the internet is seen as a dangerous place by many parents and school leaders, what actions must administrators take to balance the importance of putting digital tools in the hands of their teachers and students while keeping kids safe?
2. Has the use of technology changed the teaching/learning relationship in your classroom? If so, how? If not, why?
3. If an administrator asked you to name one 21st Century skill that every child and teacher should master, what would it be—and why would that skill be so important?
Looking forward to going back through some of last year’s posts!
Hey, Scott, re: my last comment, Rick’s got it going on. That’s what I mean. That’s the high-hanging fruit right there. Nice one, Rick.
Three of the biggest technological advances that we have seen, especially during the last decade, have been with cell phones, video games, and the internet. Without a doubt all of these have played a role in shaping the culture of our youth. We are in a time when most 12 year olds can create and manage their own Facebook page, but there are teachers that still need help checking their email. Administrators MUST familiarize themselves with these tool to be able to effectively communicate with students of the future.
One of the biggest challenges to classroom distractions is the use of cell phones and text messaging. Rather than discourage cell phone use, and extended time online or playing video games, we must find ways to incorporate their use in a classroom setting. We really have no choice if we hope to keep the attention of the students.
I may not have the answers right now, but I know that this is the direction that is necessary. Learning will have to be an extension of the “hand held, one click away” habits that are only becoming more and more a part of every day life.
Good luck to all with this mission.
Great comments from Rick – Why technology? Because it can SERVE us, not as the end. And Bill – How do we open the gates to learning and keep it a safe experience for inquisitive youth? Nice job, you two!
Thanks for the comment and thanks even more for the great blog. I always look forward to new posts from you.
The Faculty Room would like to participate in this. We would need to stretch the rules a bit since we’d be publishing ten posts over a two week period starting on June 30th and wrapping it up on July 11th. You could just link up our July 4th post. Would this work?
@Meg: Yes, absolutely! Thanks for participating. I’ll wait until July 11 to do my summary post of what everyone wrote about…
Check out this story out of Spain:
While it’s a bit on the extreme end, it illustrates my point about the impact technology is having on the culture of todays youth.
I remember this from last year – still think it is a great idea! I like Rick’s proviso re: tech without purpose – just as in everything else we do, there needs to be an underlying purpose for learners or else it’s just an activity.
Just switching my website over to using iWeb. Previous URL is http://cyndidannerkuhn.info/. But love what you are doing here. I added to my blog. Every administrator needs to read this!!!
Something to consider…
Here’s a link to a story from Japan about a popular hand-held video game that is used for educational purposes in the classroom.
It seems other countries are figuring this out.
I just posted some advice on my blog, too.
I look forward to the collection of writing that comes forth from this idea.
Just posted my contribution. Thanks for doing this!
I posted my contribution here:
How is this?
When I searched for our posts on technorati I was met with:
Search / No posts tagged leadershipday2008
Doesn’t seem right…
Here’s a link to my contribution:
Thanks for pulling all these thoughts together for us! I can’t wait to send the finished product along to my principal.