Monday, May 13, 2013

A Vision for 21st Century Technology Leadership


My vision for technology in a school district begins with a supportive administration which recognizes the necessity of developing a collaborative leadership team which is proactive as opposed to reactive to the increasing needs of widespread integration of technology on all levels. It is absolutely critical to the success of any district wide technology initiative that all components of leadership are aligned and on the same page with each other. In my experience districts which have any major component of their integration strategy with technology (curriculum development, professional development, integration, leadership) operating in isolation only assists in corrupting the culture of learning and motivation of those involved.
In the current environment of addressing the needs of technology in k-12 schools, it is critical that districts have large-scale plans for a robust network infrastructure to support 1:1 learning initiatives. This need is two fold in that districts which acquire this robust infrastructure can support more personalized learning initiatives (1:1) and integrate on a wide scale the use of mobile device and laptop pilots (Chromebooks, laptops, net book) for all students but these initiatives also attract the most valuable educational technology leadership who possess the leadership skills and technology knowledge base to lead these initiatives. These leaders desire to work in districts which are progressive and have substantial initiatives for 1:1 learning and curriculum with high level engagement with technology. These leaders are essential to communication and team approaches for true district wide technology integration success.
The alignment of district leadership must communicate directly with a Director/Coordinator whose supervision of instructional technologists informs the decision making of district leadership. A clear avenue of communication from the Director/Coordinator assists in communicating the state of how teachers and staff and students are using technology. This assists in the support of purchasing and evaluating new technologies for the district and also aligning district instructional practices in collaboration with technology.
            Instructional Technologist and classroom teachers are on the front lines of integrating technology with a variety of software, tools (cameras, scanners, interactive boards) and curriculum approaches. Teachers and Instructional Technologists need a point of contact in the field in which to address needs, problems and concerns as they work. Issues with software (Web 2.0 tools, multimedia), network, hardware and best practices should be directed towards an administrator who is fully knowledgeable in the area of technology and can directly respond in a professional, timely way. Addressing the needs of technology integration as they happen can help prevent the frustration that accompanies the lack of support. Support for early adopters of technology in a district plants the seeds for the next major initiative and supports personnel who may become a valuable professional development resource.
Instructional Technologist also needs a supportive professional leader who they can confide and work with to improve their practice. A culture of understanding and evaluating best practices, current technology tools and software should be supported by the leadership of a Director/Coordinator. The staff should be supported for attending professional development such as technology conferences such as MassCUE, Boston Tech Forum and encouraged to provide progressive professional development which reflects their experiences integrating in the classroom. The perception of Instructional technologists should be that they facilitate teacher integration and technology best practices and not be used as a stop gap for the lack of teacher motivation to integrate technology properly in their classroom.
Creating and nurturing a technology driven culture in education is not an easy task. Embracing the needs of early adopters of technology and providing progressive and relevant professional development whilst supporting the needs of existing users presents a wide range of challenges. A productive, beneficial relationship between the managers of the network and those using it to instruct is an absolute necessity for success in the process. Developing goals and initiatives as a district which are initially exciting but cannot be supported by the network only adds to the frustration of those who want to see a deeper integration of technology into classrooms.  With proper alignment in district leadership and network management and a real desire to promote learning with technology, exciting initiatives can be completed and improved upon.