Academic journal article Journal of Research in Rural Education (Online)

Technology Leadership in Native American Schools

Academic journal article Journal of Research in Rural Education (Online)

Technology Leadership in Native American Schools

Article excerpt

Principals of schools serving Native American students have a unique role as technology leaders. They must be cognizant of technological demands, government mandates, as well as unique societal and cultural needs. In this study, the researchers conducted interviews with nine principals in federally-funded, Bureau of Indian Education schools that serve Native American students to explore various topics related to technology leadership as described by the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A). We find that these principals are meeting various components of the NETS-A in unique ways but are missing many components of the standards entirely. We find that a lack of professional development on technology training, a dearth of technology coordinators, poverty, and isolation were major challenges to their technology leadership. We conclude that the field of educational leadership must respond to the needs of the marginalized communities to meet their unique demands by focusing on relevant technology leadership training through preparatory and in-service training.

Administrators of K-12 schools are increasingly called upon to be leaders of technological change. Many studies support the assertion that the administrator plays a pivotal role as the district or school technology leader (Anderson & Dexter, 2005; Dikkers, Hughes, & McLeod, 2005; Fletcher, 2009; Gerard, Bowyer, & Linn, 2008; International Society for Technology in Education, 2007; McLeod, 2008; Slenning, 2000). As Anderson and Dexter (2005) assert, "a school's technology efforts are seriously threatened unless key administrators become active technology leaders in a school" (p. 74).

Principals who serve special populations however, such as Native American1 students, face a unique combination of challenges including but not limited to isolation, poverty, cultural preservation, cultural disintegration, and language maintenance. This article explores technology leadership as defined by the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A) (International Society for Technology in Education, 2009) within the context of K-12 schools serving Native American students. Two research questions guide this study: (1) What does technology leadership look like in Native American schools? and; (2) What challenges do school leaders of Native American schools face when trying to become effective school technology leaders?

Theoretical Framework

To help guide school leaders as they focus on technology leadership, the International Society for Teachers in Education (ISTE) (ISTE, 2002, 2009) created the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators (NETS-A). "These standards represent a national consensus of the things PK-12 school administrators need to know and do to support technology integration effectively in schools" (Brooks-Young, 2009, p. 2).The five standards are intended to help school leaders better understand and refine their role as school technology leaders. The first standard is called visionary leadership. Included in this standard is that a technology leader has the ability to inspire a shared vision among stakeholders and foster changes that maximize the use of digital resources to support instruction, learning, and student performance. Engaging in ongoing strategic technology planning is also detailed in this standard. Finally, the standard of visionary leadership details how effective school technology leaders advocate for policies, programs, and funding to support the vision and planning efforts related to technology.

The second standard is titled digital-age learning culture. This standard describes how school administrators must ensure that instruction improves digital-age learning and that the school and classrooms are sufficiently equipped with digital technologies that support individual student needs. Additionally, school technology leaders should "model and promote the frequent and effective use of technology for learning" (ISTE, 2009, p. …

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