As I approach the end of my technology and leadership course, it’s time to consider the standards for educational leaders defined by the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education). These are:
- Equity and citizenship advocate – Leaders use technology to increase equity, inclusion, and digital citizenship practices.
- Visionary planner – Leaders engage others in establishing a vision, strategic plan and ongoing evaluation cycle for transforming learning with technology.
- Empowering leader – Leaders create a culture where teachers and learners are empowered to use technology in innovative ways to enrich teaching and learning.
- Systems designer – Leaders build teams and systems to implement, sustain and continually improve the use of technology to support learning.
- Connected leader – Leaders model and promote continuous professional learning for themselves and others.
Although my current school is not a 1 to 1 tech school, in my department we have managed to find creative ways to use technology to advance learning. We use technology to create engaging, authentic learning contexts, whether through apps, videos or digital resource banks. Digital citizenship is an aspect that we have been actively developing with our students, Our 8th grade students are required to do an annual project of their own choosing, that they research and conduct over five or six months. The results are presented in an academic paper, followed by a reflection on the process. As part of a team of mentors this year, we have worked with the students to model and teach online research and critical evaluation of online sources. It was pleasing to see that all the students who did their projects in a foreign language were thorough and critical in their research, articulate in their presentations and academically honest. Seeing the success of the projects this year, we are thinking of opening them for grade 7 as well.
I have had some practice with being a connected leader and an equity and citizenship advocate. I learnerd early on the benefits of empowering teachers and supporting them in using technology to advance learning. As my previous school was a 1 to 1 laptop school, I worked with the Technology Integration Director to organize workshops for teachers, parents and students. In every school I’ve been, I have engaged with the local community of educators, attended conferences and contributed to the discussion by presenting workshops or papers.
I have yet to see a school that has a true culture of innovation and has managed to integrate technology in such a way as to support differentiated (or personalized?) learning for both students and teachers. According to Lindsay (2016) a global educator is a connected educator who can, eventually [and thanks to their sound grasp of both technology and pedagogy], design learning environments which are futuristic and transcend the walls of the classroom. This sounds interesting and I would like to learn more about how we can do that, as teachers, but also what the impact on the learners would be and how we can make these environments sustainable.
Reflecting back on my leadership experience, I would say the standards I need to actively develop would be being a visionary planner and a systems designer. As a visionary planner, a leader uses current & relevant research to create a shared vision for using technology to ensure student success (ISTE). This vision is shared with stakeholders and put in practice through a strategic plan that is implemented, revised and adjusted as needed. A leader who is a systems designer is able to establish a robust infrastructure to fulfill the vision. This includes resources, strategic partnerships and a solid data management and data protection system.
Bull (2018) offers a few tools for approaching the future of technology in education, and, while his article refers to higher education, the same feelings can be found, I am sure, in schools all around the world. In his words, we can choose to ignore the future, prepare for the future as we envisage it, predict the future or aspire to create the future. What we cannot do, it seems, is stop the future from happening. We know for sure that technology has the potential to change education. Laeeka Khan of the London College of International Business Studies talks about the technological revolution in education, and its consequences on the business environments and workplaces of the future.
I like the idea of a global educator being a bridge to different learning journeys (Lindsay, 2016) and I believe that a purposeful use of technology in education can certainly facilitate that.