A barrier to the adoption of technology in education is a lack of vision and weak leadership. For educational professionals to take full advantage of technology, strong leadership to create and guide all members of a school community in a shared vision to ensure effective integration and to transform instructional practices around educational technologies is required. This instructional concern requires an educational leader to use transformational leadership principles to create a working environment that will build confidence in the followers while facilitating the implementation of technology in the classroom.
What are transformational leaders?
Marks & Printy (2003) explain that “Transformational leaders motivate followers by raising their consciousness about the importance of organizational goals and by inspiring them to transcend their own self-interest for the sake of the organization” (p. 375). These leaders will create a working environment where trust and respect are promoted, and the knowledge and expertise of its members are treated as valuable parts of a whole program. These leaders will also analyze previous mistakes, challenge the way programs have been implemented in the past and will look to the team to find solutions to overcome these previous shortcomings.
4 Steps to Plan a Technology Initiative
Ahn, Bivona, and DiScala (2011) explain that there are multiple avenues to establishing educational technology policies and initiatives. Some more successful than others. Different school boards will approach integration differently, and its adoption will vary depending on the level of attention that these initiatives receive. Experts in educational technology integration suggest:
1. Plan with a Goal in Mind
As an educational community, develop a common vision and a goal for technology integration through collaboration and teamwork. Beginning your project with surveys to gather information from staff and students will ensure that the voices from all interested parties will be heard. This initial data can show the growth of your initiative and will help set the tone for the project. Technology initiatives should never funnel from “top-down” decisions, and policy initiatives should be reevaluated on a yearly basis.
2. Use Gathered Data
As previously mentioned, data from surveys can be used to assess educational needs, create instructional models, and determine technological devices that have been requested for your initiative. Project stakeholders should evaluate the status of school infrastructure to ensure that it can handle the influx of devices. Ultimately, project leaders should select devices that students and staff feel the most comfortable with, and that can be supported by the school network.
3. Personalize Student Learning
Initiative leaders can ensure that policies and resources equip teachers with the right tools and ongoing support to differentiate instruction and personalize learning in their classrooms. Collaboration between teachers and students will create opportunities to examine observations and reflections, student work, formative and summative assessments, and data that is embedded within the software of different learning apps. In these classrooms, the teacher can design learning opportunities or guide learners to generate their own personalized learning experiences.
4. Personalize Professional Learning
Schools must commit to ensuring that technology training is available, ongoing, and relevant to professional learning. Leaders can collaborate with teachers to develop clear goals for professional development that align with the vision for student learning. Also, to create and promote the integration of technology in education, leaders and staff can use combinations of face-to-face, online, and blended professional learning communities. This will create opportunities for staff to see technology being used authentically to create learning networks between initiative leads and staff participants.
In the comments section below, please post examples of how educational leaders in your school or school board integrated technology into teaching practices.
Ahn, J., Bivona, L. K., & DiScala, J. (2011). Social Media Access in K-12 Schools: Intractable Policy Controversies in an Evolving World. ASIST 2011. Retrieved from http://ahnjune.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/ASIST2011_AUP.pdf
Marks, H. M., & Printy, S. M. (2003). Principal leadership and school performance: An integration of transformational and instructional leadership. Educational Administration Quarterly, 39 (3), 370-397. doi: 10.1177/0013161X03253412