Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Leadership - Escape the Technological Stone Age: News

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Leadership - Escape the Technological Stone Age: News

Article excerpt

Regardless of your expertise, these strategies will help you to lead staff into a bright IT future.

Implementing technology as a school leader can be an intimidating experience. Fortunately a small but growing body of research at the intersection of educational leadership and technology yields a developing, empirical picture of what good educational technology leadership looks like. And you don't need to be an IT expert to follow the advice.

To frame the emerging research, it is useful to refer to a book chapter written in 1993 by Chris Dede, then professor of information technology and education at George Mason University in the US. He wrote about what technology leadership should look like and from this you can take three key attributes, with current research backing up these prescient early predictions.

1. Envisioning opportunities: "One of the most important attributes that distinguishes leaders from managers is vision: the ability to communicate desirable, achievable futures quite different from where the present is drifting."

Since Dede wrote these words, vision has repeatedly been found to be integral to the successful implementation of technology by school leaders. US academics Barbara Levin and Lynne Schrum, who studied the leadership of eight technology-rich schools, found that vision was a central component of the success at those facilities. "The leadership ... talked about the necessity of having a vision, and the importance of having a clearly articulated mission statement regarding their purposes for using technology," they noted.

In a study of schools where laptops were provided for every child, School Technology Leadership: artifacts in systems of practice, Sara Dexter, associate professor at the Curry School of Education, University of Virginia, is more specific, stating that leaders have to illustrate the connection between the "what, how and why" of the vision and how that connects to the real world of the classroom.

2. Displacing cherished misconceptions: "An important attribute of leaders is their ability to displace deeply held, cherished misconceptions with alternative visions that more accurately depict reality."

The above is referring in large part to the attitude of "my way has always worked fine" that can be found in schools. …

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