The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE) has created a set of standards for educational technology applicable worldwide. While there are discrepancies in the availability of technology, five standards for educational leaders help ensure that schools are moving in the right direction for student equity and tech efficiency. I’ve included summaries of those five standards below alongside my personal recommendations on how to implement these standards.
1. Visionary leadership – This is an administrator’s ability to involve all stakeholders in purposeful change, follow through on a strategic plan, and advocate for policies and funding.
Implementing a vision is why we need leaders and the best leaders create opportunities for those impacted by a decision to help create that decision. Involve teachers, students, and families in brainstorming sessions regarding the direction for technology at the campus and district level. It is important when gathering feedback to include those who may not be the most comfortable with technology. Even though they may disagree with you, they will be the ones working with you and potential problems can be resolved early on in the process with shared understanding.
Keeping the change purposeful is also key. Too often it is tempting to implement new technology simply because it is new. Everything that the school does must support the big picture vision and mission of the school, which leads to…
2. Digital age learning culture – The innovations that technology can bring to a school must focus on improving instruction. Educational leaders must also model a learning lifestyle for students and teachers in part by participating in learning communities.
Instruction is what we’re about. It may take on various forms depending upon the style of the teacher and the content of the curriculum, but, at the end of the day, we are about students learning. If an activity – technology included – does not help students learn, cut it.
Modeling positive behaviors in education is crucial. Educational leaders must live out what they expect students and staff to do, otherwise it can be dismissed as hypocritical ideology or chasing a trend. A principal who uses a shared network drive instead of making hundreds of copies for faculty meeting handouts is one simple example of using technology to help the school. Modeling the use of collaboration software (such as Google Drive, Evernote, or One Note) with department chairs will in turn show them through experience how to use technology with their students.
3. Excellence in professional practice – Resources such as time and money must be allocated for educators to engage in professional growth. Educational leaders must also stay current on educational research and emerging trends in order to evaluate which practices to pursue.
Money is tough to allocate when the economy is struggling, and time is a commodity that teachers do not have in excess, so creativity is needed to implement this standard. With regards to time, faculty meetings or weekly staff emails can have a section dedicated to sharing best practices. Experienced teachers can be the best experts and money could be saved on not having to hire an outside presenter or consultant and have more practical applications of technology on a campus by campus basis. Opportunities to use teacher-led workshops for recertification credit must also be available.
To stay current, social media is probably one of the quickest ways to see new trends emerge in technology. The issue will be to sift through what is reliable, what is applicable, and what is worthwhile. There are various blogs and Twitter feeds to follow that emphasize Educational Technology, such as The Digital Shift and Michael Karlin’s The Ed Tech Round Up. Another technique is to follow non-educational tech blogs to get a business world perspective.
4. Systemic improvement – Educational leaders need to collaborate with the staff on their campuses and with other administrators to establish ways of measuring success and to interpret those results for the growth of the campus. Leaders must also develop a sustainable framework for technology which includes recruiting and retaining personnel who use technology effectively.
Measuring success is key in determining whether technology use works towards the mission and vision of the school. Is success defined by student scores on summative assessments? Find the correlation. Is success a reduction in late homework turn-ins? Check to see if the data lines up. Data-based decision making is the reality of modern schools.
A sustainable infrastructure is also essential. It’s not a good investment to send a teacher to a training for them to quit the next year. Ways to build connections between teachers and the community, to find what resonates with employees, are crucial for retaining top talent. Autonomy is also something that teachers may find motivating. This is tough when addressing technology because there are so many things that could potentially go wrong, but the flip must not be forgotten: there is so much good that can happen when teachers take calculated risks to inspire students to be better learners.
5. Digital citizenship – Each advancement in technology provides opportunities to educate students, staff, and other community members on the ethics of technology and to create opportunities for increased cultural understanding.
While the fast-paced development of technology makes it tougher for educators to stay current and opens up new ways for students to break a school’s code of conduct, our students must learn how to use technology ethically. Inappropriate use must still have consequences, but a clear definition of appropriate use must be given. Instances where teachers can leverage a Bring Your Own Device initiative to enhance instruction will replace rules of not allowing devices on campus at all.
One of the best ways to help teachers acclimate to new technology is to give them a choice. Teachers already feel like more and more aspects of their jobs are being dictated by groups that they perceive as outside of their circle of influence. Adding a Bring Your Own Device requirement for every classroom will not be well-received. Highlighting teachers who have implemented it well and sharing those effective lessons and strategies will have the natural progression of increased adoption. It is slower than forcing everyone to do it, but will last longer due to incorporating a teacher’s motivation to look for ways to improve his or her practice.
We run a Bring Your Own Device system at our campus, so if you are interested in how to launch/improve something like that on your own campus, just leave a comment here. Also, Vicki Davis has a great list of BYOD apps/web sites that can help you sift through everything that’s out there. The options are ever-increasing, but her information is a great starting off point.