Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

School Technology Leadership: Theory to Practice

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

School Technology Leadership: Theory to Practice

Article excerpt

Abstract

Technology leadership is an emerging specialty area in Educational Leadership programs. This article describes the School Technology Leadership Initiative, an innovative graduate-level curriculum that addresses the technology needs of school administrators by synergistically blending national standards, situated learning theory, blended instruction, and technology tools. Implications and starting points are suggested for university preparation programs interested in better addressing the technology leadership needs of school leaders.

Introduction

The preparation of K-12 school administrators by university educational leadership programs is a fairly recent phenomenon. In the 1950s about 125 universities offered graduate programs in school administration, while today there are nearly 400 institutions. An additional 100 or more institutions offer educational administration licensure coursework (Lilley, 1995; McCarthy, 1999). During this time the structure and content of university educational leadership programs has changed dramatically. A multitude of curricular options that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago are now available to prospective administrators. Topics such as teacher leadership, women in leadership, special education administration, and leadership for social justice are now commonplace. These new offerings and programmatic emphases reflect the changing demographics of our nation's school leaders, teachers, and students and the influence of philosophy, social psychology, critical theory, and other social sciences on educational leadership theory and practice (Leithwood & Duke, 1999).

An emergent field within the increasingly diversified world of educational leadership is technology leadership. As schools strive to excel in the "Information Age," they need leaders who are versed in the potential and pitfalls of information and communication technologies (ICTs) for our nation's students. Many researchers and educational organizations have noted that strong leadership is an essential element of successful technology-based school reform (Anderson & Dexter, 2005; Byrom & Bingham, 2001; Gibson, 2002; Martin, Gersick, Nudell, & Culp, 2002; National School Boards Foundation, 2002; United States Department of Education, 2005). In fact, professional standards documents from the Interstate School Leaders Licensure Consortium (1996), the National Policy Board for Educational Administration (2002), and the International Society for Technology in Education (2002) underscore the importance of technology-related administrative competency. While the need for technology-literate school leaders is widely recognized, programs that prepare such individuals are in short supply. Few districts sufficiently train practicing administrators to facilitate the effective uses of technology in schools or to use technology meaningfully to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their own administrative work (Consortium for School Networking, 2004; Dawson & Rakes, 2003; Riedl, Smith, Ware, Wark, & Yount, 1998). University educational leadership programs also have been slow to adapt to schools' burgeoning needs for technology-savvy administrators (McLeod, 2004; (McLeod, S., Logan, J., & Allen, J., 2002). The result is a large-scale absence of effective technology integration and a resultant lack of impact on student learning. We recognized this gap and developed the School Technology Leadership Initiative (STLI), an innovative academic program that includes a graduate certificate for school technology leaders. Although the STLI targets a wide range of technology leadership needs in schools [1], the focus of this article is on our curriculum. We will describe how we anchor technology leadership learning and practice in the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) [2], blended instruction (i.e., a hybrid model of face-to-face and online learning), situated learning theory, and the modeling of technology integration. …

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