By McLeod, Scott
Technology & Learning , Vol. 28, No. 11
The Key to Progress and Change
As districts look at the millennials in their classrooms and plan for the most effective educational strategies to reach them, it is clear that technology can enable learning in ways that never before have been possible. It is also clear that this generation grew up with tools and techniques that are well integrated with their lifestyles. When adults worry about what to do with technology, they can look at the seamless integration of living and learning that students already achieve.
To these students, the nearly 70 million born between 1982 and 2001, the tools are personal, ubiquitous, and necessary. For instruction to be successful and relevant, schools and districts must leverage how millennials live and learn and implement new strategies. These students do not understand education's disconnect with gaming, social networking and mobile devices.
According to Leslie Wilson, President of the One-to-One Institute, "We have to be concerned about the snail-pace transformation in our schools. Reasons abound. Solutions exist. It is possible and do-able to move forward even at one step at a time. It comes down to leadership to make it happen. Leadership to step up the pace, and create the sense of urgency, vision and strategic plan."
Today's superintendents and other district-level leaders face new technology-related challenges. These may include spearheading a district-wide education technology vision, developing security awareness policies, developing assessment and data management strategies, driving professional development efforts, streamlining networking and infrastructure processes, enlisting community support for funding, and making the case for solutions to the board.
Technology leaders must have insight about ways in which the world is changing, the new tools that are available for teaching and learning, and cutting-edge technologies.
They must have an understanding of the technologically-rich information society for which students must be prepared intellectually and the media-rich environment in which students are comfortable.
Thus leaders must be change agents who help others think beyond what is happening in schools today to what could or should be happening. They lead the district in developing a shared vision and big-picture perspective on the district's goals and they lead staff, students, parents, and administrators to implement meaningful and effective uses of technology.
Focusing on What Matters
Leadership means keeping focused. In today's world, too many students fail to graduate high school and even more are ill prepared to join global, competitive work environments. While students use technology almost intuitively, they lack the wisdom to understand how to leverage that facility into the ability to find information and turn it into knowledge. That is where schools can help. An education leader knows that his or her staff must be prepared to help students be prepared for life and work in an uncertain future. Thus the goal of technology integration is to use the best toots for each job seamlessly so that the technology itself becomes transparent and supports teaching and learning. Leadership must drive this.
When computers and software are used so that students have new methods of learning curriculum, these tools can promote and enhance students' understanding of content in powerful ways. They can find information, collaborate with others and use images and sound as well as text to communicate what they have learned. It can prepare them with thinking skills. Only educators' leadership can instill a love of learning in students that will prepare them for a future in which nothing is certain and the norm is change.
The pursuit of knowledge has never been as exciting as it is today. …