At the beginning of this summer I was fortunate enough to attend the Principal Training Center’s Technology Leadership course in London. While a few weeks have passed, and I am already focused on the school year ahead, I wanted to reflect on a few key take-aways from the course.
Remembering the why
All too often, technology initiatives are developed simply so that a school can say that they are using the most current gadget or platform available. It is easy to be wowed by a new tool or learning platform, and particularly in competitive environments, there can be an urge to buy a tool first and then figure out how to incorporate it later. But effective integration of technology in education should mean that teaching and learning outcomes are the drivers of technology decisions. Before an organization rushes to incorporate the latest and greatest tool, they should start by consciously identifying learning outcomes that they hope to achieve, and have a clear and defined rationale of how student learning needs to develop. Only then should they begin to identify technology tools that will help the organization to reach its goals.
Mindfulness and using technology with purpose
Similarly, once technology tools are in place in schools, they need to be deployed and used in an authentic and meaningful way. While I personally feel that the SAMR model has been beat to death in ed tech circles, it does remind us that we should not simply be replicating traditional activities with technology, but rather striving to use technology in a way that furthers understanding and pushes student inquiry to the next level.
School vision vs technology vision
Often there is a disconnect between the larger goals of a school and those of a technology department. Some technology departments will even go so far as to create their own vision and goal statements. But really, the technology department vision and goals should be the same as those held by the larger school community, and educational technology should simply be one of many tools that will help the school to succeed in meeting its targets.
This point is one that is really common sense, but something that I wanted to flag and remind myself of. A lot of great things happen each day in many classrooms across a school, and its important to champion those who are working to effectively incorporate educational technology. Particularly in environments with varying levels of comfort and experience with using technology in the classroom, it is critical to celebrate where achievements are being made.
Now here’s to a great 2014-15 school year!