In my new position as a coordinator for technology related professional development, leadership, and other odds and ends, I’ve been inundated with lots of great materials, both formally published, and informally documented, that speak to the need of greater technology integration. Many of the formal publications usually play more like an advertisement for the periodical’s sponsors (the 58 page October 2010 issue of Tech & Learning contains roughly 30 pages of actual content, many of which are gadget and software reviews). I’m not discounting the importance in maintaining commercial viability, but often when thumbing through a number of these types of publications, it’s difficult to discern articles that are legitimately written from a sense of journalistic curiosity.
Which is why I was a bit skeptical when starting in on the November 2010 issue of the District Administration. Someone within our school’s technology department recommended it to me, and had pointed out the article on Technology Leadership. While there appears to be a renewed wave of technology integration (based anecdotally on the number of laptop programs I’ve seen starting up here around Michigan), the article entitled A Call for Technology Leadership, is making a case not just for greater involvement from district leadership and the superintendent’s office in regards to technology, but rather a very hands-on “lead by example” approach to pushing technology within a school district.
As I said before, sometimes the lack of authenticity in articles published in educational journals is a bit blatant (and I’ve been guilty of that myself), so getting past the photoshopped image to the left was a little difficult, but once past the completely staged photo opportunity, the article was a pretty good read about how CoSN, the Consortium for School Networking, has produced some good materials for helping a district create it’s own road map for technology integration. I know, I know, doesn’t that statement itself sound like a product placement? I’ll let you determine whether it is or not 🙂
CoSN’s call for greater tech leadership is broken up into 5 easy to follow imperatives, and I agree with them in principle, but the actual application of these 5 action steps is where it gets a bit dicey for me. For example, CoSN calls for district leadership to model the use of new communication technologies for the district (think Twitter and Facebook), and boosting the use of web 2.0 tools as key components for student and teacher learning. However, how likely is it that the superintendent of your school district serves as the chief curriculum and learning leader? Sure, many of them may play important roles in curriculum matters, but it’s usually a team of coordinators, assistant superintendents, building level admin, and teachers that do the heavy lifting for a district’s curriculum decisions. Considering that, other imperatives spelled out by CoSN for school superintendents such as providing PD and demanding a better balance of formal and performance based assessments seem again to be a better fit for a cross-curricular team rather than just the head of the school. Thankfully, Douglas Reeves, an educator who has worked with superintendents for years, called CoSN out on these imperatives, recognizing that while everyone wants the superintendent to be “in the thick” of everything to make sure he or she knows what’s going on, it’s more likely that a team made of admin and teachers will be making big decisions and leading the way for a district.
That’s not to say the superintendent should be discounted, as decisions made at the top, or at least decisions supported by the person at the top, are much easier to support district-wide. In fact, the intersection of technology and the real world that most superintendent’s, teachers, and other professionals experience is no different than the “intersection of content pedagogy and technology” quoted in the article that we need to ask our teachers to be doing. When it comes down to it, it doesn’t matter whether the superintendent is supportive of serious change in regards to fully infusing teaching, learning, and PD with technology, as the change NEEDS to happen, argued by several of the commenters in the article. The reality is that if the superintendent is “on-board”, or even better, is a passionate user of technology, then everything becomes much easier to change, implement, and connect on many levels.
While the image I reposted from the District Administrator is a bit staged, and looks a little silly, the superintendent in the picture, Pamela Moran has a lot of great quotes in the piece. Reflecting on assessment for one. Because even if you have a fully supportive and web 2.0 savvy leader, what good does it do if you have no effective way to assess the implementation of technology integration in the classroom? Rubrics are tossed out as a viable way to assess the progress of integration, assignments, and projects, but I’m afraid that’s not enough in this day and age. Hopefully, there’s a lot of good follow up with this piece, and for once, I’m really glad I picked through a journal like this to see what it had for me. I highly recommend the read, and some seriously reflective thought with a small group of individual’s in your school district. I’ll be doing the same coming up soon with my district’s technology advisory group.
If you have time this weekend, it’s worth a quick read, and if you’re a Diigo user, turn on your comments, notes, and annotations so you can comment on the ones I’ve left on the page.
Schachter, R. (2010, November). A call for technology leadership. District Administration, Retrieved from http://www.districtadministration.com/viewarticle.aspx?articleid=2645&p=1#0
image: 3D Team Leadership – thegoldguys.blogspot.com