Magazine article Technology & Learning

Are You Leading the Way

Magazine article Technology & Learning

Are You Leading the Way

Article excerpt

I frequently have opportunities to talk with fellow administrator about how technology is used at their schools. Most of these conversations indicate focus on getting equipment rather than on how it will be configured or used once it arrives. It is also common to hear principals say that they know little about the equipment they are buying, having relied on the advice of others.

These decisions are too important to be made on blind faith -- not only because the purchases eat up a significant portion of the school's budget, but also because of the effect they have on the instructional program as a whole. As a principal myself, I understand how overwhelming the demands on your time can be, but one of a school administrator's most important jobs is to help keep staff and community members focused on the goals of the total school program and the educational experiences students are exposed to. This means taking an active role in the planning and implementation of technology use. Buying equipment is one small part of the total picture.

Starting With Teachers

It is imperative to recognize that the ultimate success or failure of technology use in the classroom will rest with the teacher. Research conducted by Richard Clark in the 1980s demonstrates that it is the competence of the teacher more than the innovation that has an impact on students. This means that administrators must support, philosophically and financially, staff development and professional growth for their teachers. This is easier said than done, of course. Just the wide range of teacher expertise levels on one site makes designing an appropriate staff development plan a challenge. Ongoing training can cost up to 30 percent of your technology budget. But it's money that must be planned into the budget.

It helps to begin by identifying teachers' skill levels using an instrument such as the Levels of Technology Implementation framework (Christopher Moersch) or the National Information Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIIAC) Analysis of Teacher Skills Requirements (McKinsey & Company, Inc.). The information gathered can be used to design staff development sessions tailored to needs of the teachers.

It is also important for teachers and administrators to recognize that increased technology use will require different instructional strategies. …

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