Leadership for Technology Integration

For my month 3 Master’s class (Emergent Technologies in a Collabortive Culture) at Full Sail, we have to read a book put out by ISTE called Web 2.0: New Tools, New Schools. This has been a good review for me about pedagogical processes and considerations with Web 2.0 tools. The chapter I was particulary interested in, however, was the one on “Professional Development” (PD). Being a Technology Integration Specialist at my school, providing PD is an important part of my job description. And, in order for technology integration to become a seamless part of every educator’s practice, PD is an essential element needed to get to that point of seamless integration in a school.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, PD “will need to come from all angles- top down, bottom up, grade level to grade level, subject teacher to subject teacher, and even student to faculty.” I continued to say that “explicit support and dedication to the transformation process from administrators and school boards will be essential.” (a little aside here- I think that was the first time I’ve ever quoted myself. Weird!) I think this second point about the top down leadership angle is so important. If our administrators don’t have a vision nor provide leadership for educational transformation as a fundamental goal (with technology integration being a part of the transformation process), then it will be difficult to truly unfreeze the status quo (if we are thinking of ‘unfreezing’ in terms of Lewin’s Change Theory).

For the past few months, I’ve been thinking about how best this process could work from the top down (administrators) angle. I’ve had (and continue to have) conversations with like-minded colleagues and even with my immediate administrator about this. Ideas are generated, but we never seem to finalize a strong idea in how to proceed.

Today, however, I just came across a few great ideas in the ISTE book in how to proceed (this is specifically in regards to training for technology integration). Here’s a summary of the ideas (from p. 111):

1. Change two simple things in the teacher evaluation process- require teachers to show how they are integrating technology in one formally observed lesson; have an element of technology integration be part of each teacher’s annual goals.

2. Require teachers to attend a certain number of PD workshops each year relating to technology integration.

3. Poll teachers each year on their needs and desires and offer specially tailored PD workshops based off of the feedback.

4. Offer special designations to teachers who do a certain number PD workshops relating to technology integration and can show explicit application in the classroom of what they’ve learned.

5. Skype in experts on various elements of technology integration to provide specialized training so that costs can be cut from having to travel to PD workshops that are out of town.

All of these are excellent ideas. I especially like numbers 1, 2, and 4. I think these three processes more clearly show that there is vision and expectation of ALL faculty to be actively involved in the learning process. This learning process and, of course, the implementation of the newly found technology integration skills will help the evolution of relevant and authentic 21st century learning environments. This would be the ultimate goal.

Transformation and change isn’t easy regardless of the angle of approach. For the top down angle, we must have leaders who don’t fear change if it’s going to happen sooner rather than later.

Reference:

Solomon, G and Schrum, L. (2007). Web 2.0: New tools, new schools. Washington D.C.: International Society for Technology in Education.

Advertisements

About togalearning

Technology Learning Coach, High School Social Studies and online IB Psychology teacher

Posted on April 7, 2009, in Education, Technology and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. (These are just some brainstorming thoughts. I’m just a tech-in-ed newb, so take them with a grain of salt.) From my perspective, there are two things missing from some of those ideas:

    1. Teacher initiative: #1 and #2 are old-school, standards-based methods are very authoritarian and top-down. If they are implemented alone, they will cause resentment and grumbling from teachers. They do not promote creativity or allow teachers to go in new directions, and they will turn tech-in-ed into the same rut that 20th-century-ed is now. (#4 is a great counter-example, rewarding teacher initiative.)

    2. Modelling: “be the change you want to see in the world”. If as an admin you want your teachers to use tech, lead the way and do the legwork yourself, instead of just asking your teachers to do the legwork for you. (#5 is a great counter-example, showing that the admin has learned about and uses valuable tech in creating learning environments. In what other ways can a school admin model tech-in-ed?)

    My appraisal of these ideas is that they would work well in combination, but that it would be less effective to pick and choose. Implementing a change in this area would require an all-around plan that involves both pushing teachers (ideas #1, 2, 4) and pulling them (#3, 4, 5).

    • Thanks for the feedback, Micah. It’s funny- a colleague and I were just talking today about how #1 would cause grumblings here at my school! There is value to that approach, but it could be pursued a little differently maybe. Like you said, in combination would be a good approach. That’s why I like # 4. It’s proactive and there’s some incentive. The process of modeling is essential, so I completely agree with you there. This modeling should be coming from all the angles I discussed in the post and previous post. I just know from experience, though, that you can do all the modeling in the world, but it doesn’t mean that anyone will follow your example. That’s why I took the focus I did in the post about admin needing to provide specific vision and expectations. Otherwise, some faculty members will never seek to progress and learn. It’s a complex process and balancing act.

  2. Thomas,

    As always, I look forward to reading your posts!

    I must say that the list of items #1-5 would be great if technology weren’t so artificial — a better word is probably “Superficial”.

    It seems that the integration is completely missing along with “buy-in”. The attitudes and perceived lack of ability to implement are holding back many schools in our district. Combine that with several generations of teachers who claim they have “been there and done that”, you have a serious problem for our customers.

    Several of our teachers will attend the required workshops and show a lesson plan of how they used or plan to use the technology. They simply do the requirement, and then say, “Welp, back to teaching to the test.” as they reach for that 20-year-old curriculum that they are more comfortable with.

    I think it is utterly ridiculous, but how do you combat this with the final comment, “At least I KNOW this curriculum isn’t changing!”?

    • Felisa, yes, buy-in is essential. But, considering the current state of the world and the massive changes going on, we shouldn’t have to sell “buy-in” in order to start transforming our learning environments and integrating technology in compelling ways. I’m going to be blunt here, but anyone who cares about the future and our survival (both as educators and human beings) should be learning and working toward changing this 19th century model of education we are still stuck in. Those teachers that secretly or outwardly say “been there, done that” are completely ignoring the reality of today’s world. What is happening today is unprecedented. So the reasons for what we are trying to do have no connection to any other moment in the last 30 years. That goes for the changes needed in curriculum, as well.

  3. I think that you have some wonderful ideas on how to integrate these new technologies, but you are going to have some resistance from the “old-guard” teachers who are still clinging to the 19th century model of education. It’s scary to think about how “behind the times” American education is. If more of us (educators) do not stand up and affect the changes needed to bring our kids forward, we will be doing more of a disservice to them than ever before. Good Post Tom.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: