Another aspect of empowered, distributed leadership is the creation of structures that facilitate team members’ learning. Schools that create ways to ‘bring the outside in’ for staff and technology advisory teams will have access to a greater diversity of ideas and resources than those that will be devised locally in-house. In their seminal book, The Power of Pull, Hagel, Brown, and Davison (2010) describe the incredible power of members at the outside edges of organizations bumping up against, intersecting with, and learning from individuals at other organizations’ edges (see also Cross & Parker, 2004; Benkler, 2006). Online – and often informal – learning structures that span institutional barriers can be powerful ways to facilitate distributed learning and leadership. A variety of technology tools are available for this purpose, including blogs, Twitter, Facebook, wikis, webinars, and social bookmarking.
Another way for principals to influence the supply of technology-fluent teachers is to work closely with teacher education programs. As schools create technology-rich learning environments and focus more on higher-order thinking skills, many administrators are finding that preservice programs have not adapted yet to provide new graduates with skills relevant for their classrooms. For example, when asked how well their teacher education program prepared them to make effective use of technology for instruction, only 33% of public school teachers replied ‘to a moderate or major extent’ for their graduate program and only 25% of public school teachers reported the same for their undergraduate teacher education program (NCES, 2010b). Principals should initiate constructive, non-threatening dialogues with university faculty and administrators about the technology skill sets that they need new teachers to have. Re-aligned postsecondary curricula, joint research initiatives, observation programs, mentoring systems, internships, partnerships, and political advocacy platforms are just some of the potential outcomes of such conversations.
Although most learning technologies are general enough to be used quite flexibly, by design some technologies are more teacher-centric rather than student-centric. For instance, tools such as interactive whiteboards, student response systems, digital projectors, and document cameras are technologies designed to facilitate the presentation of material by one teacher to many students. Even when a student rather than a teacher is using the technology, the vast majority of children usually are passively watching the facilitator rather than actively using the technology themselves. Similarly, tools such as DVD players, pre-selected online videos, pre-filtered web sites for research, and content management systems usually are implemented in ways that are more teacher-directed rather than student-directed. Teacher-centric technologies mirror traditional educational practices related to information transmission and – unlike laptop or tablet computers, digital cameras or camcorders, scientific probeware, and other technologies that typically are used primarily by students – are generally replicative rather than transformative. Principals should strive to create opportunities for students to have greater autonomy and ownership over how and when they use technology tools. It is important for teachers to use technology in their instruction in ways that are meaningful, relevant, and powerful. It is arguably more important, however, to empower students to do the same. Schools that mostly invest in teacher-centric rather than student-centric technology tools will struggle to adequately prepare graduates who are ready for a hyperconnected, hypercompetitive, technology-infused global information society.
Just thought I’d give a quick update on our new online School Technology Leadership courses and programs.
We’ve got one last step in the University of Kentucky approval process. It should go smoothly about 2 weeks from now and then we’ll be completely and officially official. In the meantime, applications continue to come in; we have seen a great deal of interest both in America and internationally.
If you’re new to our courses, our 15-credit online graduate certificate allows educators to go deep-deep–DEEP on ISTE’s National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A). If you’d prefer an online Master’s or Ph.D. with an emphasis in School Technology Leadership, we have those programs too. All courses are offered at in-state tuition rates. We are aiming for at least one national and one international cohort to begin this fall. The application deadline for all programs is May 15.
ISTE and others are helping us recruit so we are thankful for their assistance. If you’d like to help us spread the word (hint, hint), here’s a blurb:
The University of Kentucky has launched its new online School Technology Leadership graduate certificate, Master’s, and Ph.D. programs. Participating educators will be deeply grounded in ISTE’s . Deadline for Fall admission is May 15, 2012.
Well, yesterday was Digital Learning Day. By all accounts, it was a busy day across the country. Lots of conversation and high-profile events and demonstrations of students doing cool stuff with technology…
Should every school day be Digital Learning Day? Nope. We still need down time from these electronic and virtual spaces of ours, times when we experience the joy of human connection, nature, solitude, reflection (and all of those other things that people say I should be experiencing!). But, nonetheless, we definitely need ‘more digital, more often’ in most of our primarily-analog schools, so it was good to have a nationwide day that reminds us of the power of digital learning.
Here are a few things that caught my eye from the unrelenting stream of educational technology news yesterday:
Apparently some students got to testify before the Ohio House of Representatives about digital learning. I love to see tweets like this one or this one. In contrast, I’m not so enthused about tweets like this one (from a district in Alabama).
We … need school leaders who can begin envisioning the implications of these [new technology-suffused, globally-interconnected] environmental characteristics for learning, teaching, and schooling. We need administrators who can design and operationalize our learning environments to reflect these new affordances.
I also said:
If a principal or superintendent isn’t receiving [assistance] from the university that prepared her, her state and national leadership associations, her regional education service agency, her state department of education, the federal government, or a corporate or foundation initiative, where is she supposed to get the information and training that she needs to improve her technology leadership skills? From a book or a few web sites?
When we underinvest in the people that control all of the resources that instigate and facilitate change – money, time, training, personnel allocation, structural (re)alignment, organizational mission/vision, etc. – we shouldn’t be surprised when desired changes in our schools fail to materialize. We also shouldn’t be surprised when school administrators make technology-related decisions because of fear, lack of knowledge, or community or political pressure rather than educational appropriateness.
When an administrator’s mental light bulb turns on regarding technology, it’s not just an individual or classroom that’s affected, it’s his entire building or district. As such, it’s time for more attention to [the technology leadership needs of] our principals and superintendents.
Graduate certificate, Master’s, or Ph.D. in School Technology Leadership
It is within this context that I announce that we’re relaunching our online School Technology Leadership courses. When I was at the University of Minnesota, we received a federal grant to create the nation’s first graduate program designed to prepare technology-savvy school leaders. Our evaluator, the American Institutes for Research, verified that our program had positive, statistically-significant impacts on participants’ technology leadership knowledge, skills, and abilities. We ran 4 national cohorts through that program before I left. Working with those educators was incredibly wonderful. I can’t express in words how delighted I am that our courses are now available again.
I hope that many of you will apply or will encourage those leaders around you to boost their own technology leadership skills. We’re aiming to start at least one American and one international cohort this Fall but can handle much more if the demand is there. And if we’re not exactly what you’re looking for, check out options from ISTE and Johns Hopkins University, Kennesaw State University, Leading Edge Certification, the Consortium for School Networking (CoSN), Intel, and others. There are 200,000+ school administrators in the U.S. alone. Most of them need a lot of help when it comes to technology, so find a program that best fits their needs and get ’em started!
But not just me alone. I also invited others to join me and a few folks took me up on the offer. The idea was to get multiple perspectives on our topic of the evening. On Tuesday, the subject was how technology tools are changing everything and creating a new information landscape for all of us.
I was supposed to do a webinar.
But there were storms in Ames, Iowa, and, minutes before we were supposed to begin, my Internet access from our local cable company went kaput. Uh oh…
I was supposed to do a webinar.
Thanks to the kindness of volunteers, including people I’ve never met in person, the show went on. Alison Link (in Minnesota) and Bryan Lakatos (in Ohio) and Lou Ann Gvist (in Iowa) forged on without me. The school board members and superintendents who logged in had a fantastic, wide-ranging discussion.
I was supposed to do a webinar.
I DID do a webinar. Just without me in it. It wasn’t seamless. We had glitches. I was a complete nonfactor. And yet it was a needed and helpful conversation and both participants and facilitators benefited from it.
Many organizations get so caught up in the need for perfection that they forget the power of simply talking. No broadcasting, no selling, just talking. Tuesday night was an affirmation of the power of human connection, our desires for technological perfection be damned.
Thank you so much, Alison and Bryan and Lou Ann! You were amazingly adaptive and incredibly helpful. I owe you!
I’m facilitating a webinar series for members of the Iowa Association of School Boards (IASB). Last week I did one of my standard “the world has changed” sessions online and now we’re following up on that interaction with three topical webinars. I’m looking for 3 to 5 people who might like to join us for each session. Participants will be school board members from across the state of Iowa. They’ll fire questions, concerns, and comments at us in the text chat area. We facilitators will answer questions, share resources, and engage participants via web cam and/or the text chat.
Here’s a description of each session. If you’re interested, sign up using the facilitator registration form (first come, first serve!). Once you’re signed up, I’ll send you the URL for your webinar(s).
Our new information landscape: These technology tools are changing EVERYTHING! [November 8, 6pm to 7:30pm Central]
New technologies are changing how we interact, share, and work together. Most schools and educators, however, are not yet using these powerful tools in classrooms and many are even blocking them completely from student use. Does this make sense given how wired our world is today?
Our new learning landscape: These technology tools are creating powerful new ways for students (and educators) to learn[November 29, 6pm to 7:30pm Central]
Whether we’re students or adults, new technologies are changing how we learn. Teaching and learning are going to look very different over the next couple of decades, and much of it is going to occur in more informal and online settings rather than in our traditional, formal, face-to-face schools. What are the powerful possibilities and potential pitfalls? How do we tap into these tools and still ensure that we make AYP student achievement targets under NCLB?
Our new economic landscape: These technology tools are changing what it means to prepare graduates for the workforce[December 12, 6pm to 7:30pm Central]
Jobs, jobs, jobs: right now that’s what’s on everyone’s mind. This recession is not a temporary blip. We’re living through a structural change in employment that has major ramifications for how schools prepare students for the world of work. What does it really mean to be a successful employee and company in this new hyperconnected, hypercompetitive global economy?
CASTLE briefs are intended to help practicing and preservice school administrators with various technology leadership issues. Between 500 and 2,000 words in length, CASTLE briefs attempt to answer the question, “What do school administrators need to know about this technology leadership topic?” Some CASTLE briefs are classic research or policy briefs; others may be more practice-oriented or focus on thought leadership in a particular area.
ANYONE may write a CASTLE brief. Sometimes we will extend invitations to authors but we also accept at-large submissions. We are open to your ideas about content, format, and style but please note that we frown upon commercial advertisements disguised as briefs. Images, audio, video, and other multimedia are welcome inclusions in a brief. We would prefer APA citation style for your references section. All CASTLE briefs will be made available under a Creative Commons attribution-share alike copyright license.
Our first brief is titled for consideration.
I hope that you will consider contributing to the CASTLE Brief series, either by submitting a brief yourself or at least adding some ideas to the list of potential topics. If you’re a professor, note that writing a CASTLE brief would be a great assignment for your students! (hint, hint)
In Fall 2008, only 6 school districts in Iowa had a 1:1 student laptop initiative in place. In Fall 2011, as many as 90 to 100 districts (one-fourth of the state total) may be giving laptops to some segment of their student population. This explosive, grass roots growth has completely changed the tenor of many conversations here in the state and has fostered some very rapid innovations in learning and teaching.
I know that many of you will contribute out of the goodness of your heart. But, because 500 blogs is a very ambitious goal, I’ll sweeten the pot a little. The kind folks at Lenovo are going to let me give away a Lenovo m90z all-in-one desktop computer to anyone in the world who submits a school leadership blog using the form below. I’ll choose at random from all of the submissions. You get an extra chance for each blog you submit; the more you enter, the better your chance to win!
The form is below. The deadline is May 16. I’ll clean up the list of contributions and share it back out so that we all can make good use of them. Thanks to everyone who already has submitted an entry. If you know of a principal or superintendent or school administrator association who is blogging, your assistance would be greatly appreciated!