Six Big Ideas for Educational Technology Leaders

Response to the  Leadership Day 2012 Challenge

I have had the opportunity to participate in some pretty great professional development recently, and so I’ve decided to share the highlights here and how I believe they apply to effective leadership strategies.

  1. Identify your vision – and share it with your stakeholders.  Keep checking your goals and initiatives to make sure they are on track to move towards your vision. Just like in good instructional design, design your initiatives to meet your learning goals.  Without vision, confusion results, and your ability to be an effective leader is diminished.
  2. Continuously model lifelong learning through the technology tools available today.  A leader in educational technology should be participating in a personal learning network, learning the way that our students learn and benefiting from the ideas and resources shared in this environment. If you don’t understand as a learner the power of social media, then  how can you lead others in helping students to tap into this vast resource?
  3. Change “yes, but” to “what if?”  In this era of high stakes testing, there are always reasons not to try something new or apply what you have learned to make positive changes in the realm of student learning. It is easy to fall back on the “old ways” of schooling – and then technology becomes just another delivery method.  Stay focused on your vision, trust in what you have learned, and help your stakeholders to think outside the box –or better yet, build a whole new box!
  4. Be a designer of learning.   Think like a designer!  Architects follow building code just as teachers should follow standards – but think how far beyond code an architect goes in designing living spaces that are functional. Really, they go way beyond functional to make them personalized and appealing. This is what technology has the potential to do in transforming learning – by following the code and applying the principles of good design. In designing learning, the focus must be on the learning goals. Then, align the assessments with those goals, and begin to envision how technology can transform that learning experience. (Special thanks to Grant Wiggins for sharing this concept and “What if” concept above!)
  5. Be willing to take a risk, fail, and learn from it. Margaret Elizabeth Taylor states in her dissertation  Teaching Efficacy, Innovation, School Culture and Teacher Risk Taking that “support for risk taking enhances organizational ability to overcome obstacles through adaptation and experimentation, allowing for continued effort toward implementation despite failures and setbacks encountered along the way.”  Just as we are understanding the importance of allowing students to fail on their pursuit of understanding and mastery, we need to allow this for ourselves as we strive to re-invent schools to increase student motivation and learning.
  6. Practice what you preach Connected educational technology leaders understand the potential of blended learning and personalized learning to transform teaching and learning for students.  But what about professional development?  We need to apply these same strategies when we offer professional development for teachers.   Teach teachers the way you want teachers to teach students.

Technology for a “21st Century Classroom”

 I was recently asked by the chair of the education department at a local university to create a list of technology tools that should be included in a “21st Century Classroom.” Our IT-Ed Services team brainstormed and came up with the following list. What would you add? -Nancy


Technology for a 21st Century Classroom

The room itself should be a flexible learning space, with the ability to re-configure furniture and equipment based on student need. Further, the entire school should be a flexible learning space, with the ability to re-purpose any room, combine classes, or create small collaborative work space for students.

Classroom Environment Needs:

  • Wireless connection
  • Sufficient bandwidth
  • Sufficient electrical outlets
  • Sufficient storage for multimedia projects (may be handled at the district level)

Basic Classroom Technology

  • Projector
  • Document Camera
  • Classroom response system (“Clickers”)  – unless all students have their own digital device (see below)
  • Classroom management System – such as Moodle – moving toward “Flipped Classroom”, blended learning and personalized learning
  • Electronic Portfolio software/storage system – helping students prepare for changes to college application processes and building a “positive digital footprint”
  • Access to digital resources (through the library)
    • Ebooks/etextbooks
    • Databases
      • Organized databases of primary sources
      • Journal/newspaper and scholarly works
      • Educational Digital Videos/Simulations to include 3D Technology
      • Access to Web 2.0 Tools for collaboration and communication
        • Skype
        • Wikis
        • Google Docs/Apps
        • Blogs

Teacher Technology Needs

  • Laptop – preferably a tablet

Student technology Needs:

  • Personal Digital Device – this could be a netbook, iPad, iPodtouch, tablet, or their own cell phone. This eliminates the need for some kind of classroom response system
  • Digital cameras and digital video cameras for student use in projects
  • Headsets/microphones for podcasting, Skyping