Whenever I go into a school and they ask me what is needed to create a successful educational technology program, I tell them you need three things: resources, engaged teachers, and supportive leadership. These three items are the fertile ground in which a school can plant the strategy, IT infrastructure, learning outcomes, instructional activities, and measures of impact needed to build success with technology for learning.
are vital because EdTech is tool- and system-reliant. This doesn’t mean that
schools need to focus on quantities of technology or ubiquitous access to be
successful. In fact, I have seen impactful programs in schools with limited
budgets using only the technology at hand with the students. What sets these
programs apart is that they have clearly identified the resources available and
they have learned how to leverage their learning potential.
teachers are equally important as the teachers are where the rubber hits the
road in technology for learning. Their engagement in professional learning,
planning, and instructional activities will determine the impact on students
and realized value of computers in the classroom. Without engaged and supported
teachers, no amount of resources or leadership planning will gain traction in
the learning experiences of the students.
critical factors – resources and engaged teachers – are heavily influenced by
supportive leadership. Supportive leadership will find, organize, and grow the
technology resources available for a school. Supportive leadership will provide
clarity of purpose and vision for success which often results in greater
engagement from teachers who understand the direction they are being asked to
go. Supportive leadership is what initiates EdTech programs, gets them off the
ground, and keeps them running after the initial phases. Supportive leadership
is explicit in its backing of the efforts of the teachers and students.
this begs the question: how does leadership show its support of EdTech in
school? The most effective ways come through offering resources, time, language
and school community know that school leadership use resources to enhance
specific aspects of the school’s program. By allotting resources towards the
access to technology and professional learning for teachers, leadership will
show its tacit and lived support for educational technology. Teachers will be
able to use these resources, with the implied call to action, to build
technology rich lessons that enhance learning for all students. However,
resource-based support can be quite dangerous if done without strategy or
sustainability. Supportive leadership must develop a clear and transparent
strategy for the allocation and usage of resources for them to be used
effectively for learning. Further, by following the common mistake of only
allotting resources at the beginning of a program rather than on a perpetual
timeline, support will be viewed as fleeting or non-committal when it comes
time to renew or refresh.
Of course, a
key form of resource-based support comes through budgeting. Professional
learning, access to technology, sustainability, and proper assessment of the
impact of educational technology on the school should be found easily within
the school’s budget. Regular line items that reflect the ongoing learning and
operational needs should be in the expense budget and the capital budget should
contain regular technology purchases for expansion or refresh. And supportive
leadership will always show financial commitment to technology by fully funding
resource most valuable way to demonstrate support for EdTech initiatives is time.
Leadership has the ability reserve, find, and even make time for teachers to
focus on the teaching and learning aspects of educational technology. The most
supportive leaders of EdTech will carve out formal and informal time for
teachers to learn and collaborate. In formal sessions, teachers will develop
new technology or pedagogic skills or author technology-enhanced curriculum.
During informal sessions, teachers will collaborate to share and collaborate on
best practices in their classrooms. By providing this time separate from
required staff meetings and administrative tasks, leadership will demonstrate
its academic and operational priority of teachers using technology effectively.
leadership is not simply a planning or resource allocation activity. It is one
of outward demonstration of vision and priorities within a school. Good
leaders, beyond technology, will embed what is important to the school in every
conversation and school communication. The same applies to supporting EdTech.
Supportive leaders will talk about the value of technology for learning and the
school’s plans for implementing it effectively when talking inwardly and
outwardly. They will use proper terminology when talking about technology-based
instruction and be able to identify the key leverage points for EdTech in the
school. By using words to show support, the community will see the value of
technology for learning embedded in the school ethos and they will begin to
look for, and expect to find, it in the actions taken by teachers and students.
leadership can use their language to give specific and powerful support to
their engaged teachers. Those who have worked in schools know that financial
incentives have little effect on the engagement or impact of teachers. Instead,
what motivates teachers to do the best is the belief they are doing work of
value. Leadership can honor and support this value through formal recognition.
Recognition in the context of EdTech can come in a number of ways; highlighting
a successful project, celebrating a certification attained by a group of
teachers, publicizing conference presentations by staff, or giving certain
teachers additional roles and responsibilities within the EdTech program. And
given these are technology-based recognitions, they can be done through school
communications, Twitter feeds, or during staff meetings.
implicit and explicit support of teachers and EdTech in the school, leaders are
the tipping point for immediate and sustained success for technology in a
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