"A big part of leadership centered on next practices is developing a culture that not only has standardization (best practices), but also accepts and delves into uncertainty (next practices). For this to happen, leaders have to balance traditional skills with a penchant for innovation." Raymond J McNulty
The Alliance for Excellent Education is hosting Digital Learning Day on February 6, 2013.
Leading a technological shift in a learning environment, particularly if you are not familiar with its capacity remains quite a challenge. What follows are some suggestions for taking advantage of this Wednesday's event.
- The website is full of information. Make is simple. Begin at the "Participate" tab. Once you choose your role, you will find any number of ideas that you can squeeze into your day on Wednesday. There are presentations, activities, awards, a National Town Hall Meeting via Skype, etc.
- Make the day one in which you make technology visible. Read Justin Reich's February 1, 2013 blog post "Ten Tough Questions for Digital Learning Day." Copy the questions and keep them posted. Ask these questions of yourself and your faculty regularly and often.
- Agree to a plan in which everyone is involved in learning how to use technology for teaching, learning and communication. Post the plan somewhere visible and refer to it often.
- Commit to using at least one tool, regularly to begin. Facebook and Twitter too overwhelming? Then find out if your school has Google Apps for Education. Make sure everyone has his or her account log-in and begin using Google Drive to share documents. Build your agendas using a shared document. Make sure your office staff, especially those who are your direct support, get trained in the tools you will feel comfortable using so they can be your back-up.
- If your school library has Noodle Tools, ask your librarian if he or she uses them and if any teachers are using them. If so, schedule presentations in future faculty meetings to show others the value of their use.
- MOOCs (Massive Open Online Course) exist and are quickly becoming vehicles for entry into universities for those who might not otherwise be able to take a course in that institution because of time, money, previous academic performance, or geography. On January 23, 2013 The New York Times article on MOOCs revealed that the use and value of MOOCs is already changing. There is no doubt students in our schools will take a MOOC before graduating. Look into using MOOCs as professional development for you, your fellow administrators, and your teachers.
- Still not ready to take such bold action? Read EdWeek's Digital Directions. It is one central location where you can find what is being discussed and what is happening in schools vis-á-vis the use of technology right now. If you read one article a day you could begin or continue to have a true and broad picture of the current thinking in the field.
The invention of the integrated circuit, the development of the computer and the World Wide Web has increased the speed with which we can communicate, developed an environment for virtual communities, and the capacity to collaborate and share information (Bennis, 2009). When defining the basics of leadership attributes, Bennis offers a list of ingredients necessary for success. The last two ingredients on the list are curiosity and daring. These two leadership factors are essential in this moment when technology is taking down the schoolhouse walls. Neither moat nor policy will keep it out. It is already in the hands of our children. We cannot control it but we can guide its entry into our environments and benefit students if we understand it. There are places already on its path. We cannot allow this to become another way in which certain students are left behind. As leaders we must be curious and we must dare to venture into this digital arena. "The manager administers; the leader innovates" (Bennis, p.42). Modeling our use of technology as an innovative tool can help lead our schools forward.
"From the teacher to the principal, from the superintendent to the curriculum officer, everyone needs to be part of "reimagining learning."
If you find yourself wondering if social media prevents valuable communication, check out Peter DeWitt's February 1, 2013 post about Twitter.
Mitch Resnick leads the Lifelong Kindergarten Lab at MIT. Devoted to equal access, watch Mitch talk about teaching children the language of technology - code. He and his team have created Scratch, a free program in which children learn code, build with it and share with others around the world. Mitch's Ted Talk is worth a watch.
Bennis, Warren (2009), On Becoming A Leader, Basic Books, New York
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