Using Multimedia Case Simulators for Professional Growth of School Leaders
Claudet, Joseph, T H E Journal (Technological Horizons In Education)
Case method application in the area of school leadership has proven a valuable tool for the professional training and continuing development of educational leaders. In recent years, the integration of computer technology with the case-based approach has yielded a convergent methodology -- technology-integrated case method -- that holds promise for invigorating yet again the potential of the case method for providing reality-based, simulated thinking and learning environments for school leader development.
Specifically, as an evolving developmental resource, technology-integrated case method and CD-ROM case simulations have potential for creating career-long, professional learning and growth opportunities for preK-12 principals, teachers, and other teaching and learning school leaders. This article presents an overview of project activities and initial findings of one funded multimedia research and development effort -- the Administrator Case Simulation (ACS) Project -- to design, develop and use CD-ROM case simulations as reflective thinking tools for school principals.
The Administrator Case Simulation Project, based in the College of Education at Texas Tech University, focused on the study of adult thinking and professional learning processes of educational leaders in preK-12 schools. Beginning in 1994, and continuing with major funding support through 1996 and 1997, the project's central activity was developing multimedia case simulations about school leadership practice, Specifically, the goal of the ACS Project was to develop an initial set of CD-ROM cases informing an eventual case simulation library for school leaders' career-long assessment and professional growth keyed to National Policy Board for Educational Administration Standards.
ACS Project multimedia cases were conceived and designed to artistically integrate a variety of text, graphic and video databases into real-world, useful multimedia professional learning tools for school principals and other school leaders. ACS project development teams -- consisting of a variety of individuals interested in school leadership, including school principals, superintendents, building level professionals, community leaders, multimedia and dramatic arts specialists, and university researchers -- designed and developed a prototype, five-case Collaborative Leadership Case Library Set as an initial installment toward an eventual CD-ROM case library for school leaders.
The prototype CD-ROM cases were produced using state-of-the-art multimedia software and CD-ROM production technology to involve preK-12 school administrators and other school leaders (teachers, counselors, curriculum specialists, etc.) in the study of their own adult thinking processes and the leadership decisions they make affecting students in American schools. More specifically, the case simulations developed addressed issues/problem areas relating to several important facets of school administrative (both organizational and instructional) leadership, including the ways in which school principals and staff:
1. Accurately (and inaccurately) define school problems;
2. Navigate the gray area (complicated and fuzzy) problems of school practice;
3. Chart options and analyze consequences within an overall problem frame; and
4. Make ethical decisions and engage in valuative judgments affecting the processes and outcomes of individual, context-specific problems.
The ACS CD-ROM cases utilized video portrayal capabilities of 2D computer simulation software to engage principals in a powerful flight simulation-type decision making and advance consequence analysis/reflective teaming experience. The overall aim of the ACS CD-ROM case library development effort was to provide a 21st century, multimedia-enhanced learning environment in which school leaders can study their own reflective leadership thinking. …