Technology leadership: enhancing positive educational change
Leaders in the education sector need to be knowledgeable and effective if they are to improve the learning process amongst students using the appropriate technology. Despite the need, many school administrators still lag behind in the provision of the necessary leadership in technology. Most of them are uncertain about their capability in the provision of adequate recommendations on matters pertaining to technology.
Since technology is significant in increasing productivity in many industries worldwide, it is believed that effective inclusion of technological lessons in schools is necessary in improving the quality of education and opportunities. In spite of poor implementation of technology in schools, proper utilization of technology proves to be quite beneficial in the educational sector (Valdez 5).
This paper will focus on the technology advancements in technology in education. It will give an overview of the past systems and techniques employed in the education sector and compare it with the current education technology. This will encompass significant discussion on the different techniques employed in leadership in various institutions for different reasons.
Leadership focuses on the renewal and sustenance of individual or organizational development which calls for experimenting and innovating using the results that are difficult to quantify. It entails the ability to motivate an individual or a group of persons towards the achievement of a common goal. From an interview by Leadership 501 (2007), a leadership coach, Wilson Ramirez, self awareness is very important in leadership. It is difficult to lead other people without fully knowing oneself.
According to Osten (2), technology leadership is much more than the normal strategic planning. It tends to deal more with the social change process. An effective technology leader is one who publicly advocates for mission driven towards technological use. Other than that, this leader should be able to maximize on relationships with other groups and empowering others in the planning and deployment of technology.
In planning for technology, it is not advisable to do it in isolation. The whole board of management or the executive administration should be involved in the thinking process on all the issues relating to the mission of the organization. It is the administration that can make or break up any technological initiatives in any institution. They do not just offer financial support but also the general support for such technological initiatives. It is therefore important that the executives are educated on the vision and the goals of the institution and its strategic plan for technology enhancement. In order to change the perception of some old mind on technology, the leader should try to understand the individual feelings for the technology. This could be exhibited in their reactions when meetings to discuss such issues are called. Details of their reaction could be derived from how they address such issues in their workplaces. From these, the leader identifies the proposers. These persons are involved in the technical team and allowed to input more ideas on the issue. With the support required, it is easy to invite in experts in the field. These are people who will shed more light on the technology. This could be prove very useful in changing the perception of those opposing the idea. They also give the way forward in the implementation stage.
For every little development on this technology, the whole administration is involved. In every meeting, the progress should be made known to the committee including how this supports the mission of the institution. Financial matters are also to be discussed by the whole administration and the technical team. Details on what and how money will be spent should be made known. Even if this project will involve voluminous expenses, it is worth explaining the benefits of such undertakings. Concrete examples could be cited. Finally, the members of the institution should be given the chance to learn the new technology. They should be allowed to have fun with it even as they learn (McLester 49).
If consultants are hired, then their behavior should be modeled as expected from them. It is important to bear in mind that the leader still calls the shots even if he is considered a client in this context. Consultants do not necessarily have to be members of the technical team but they should be incorporated in the technical team. Before the commencement of such projects, it is important to come up with a clear work plan (Osten 5).
Educational Leadership Then, now and the Future
Traditionally, a leader in any school offered leadership considered as managerial or operational. The heads in these schools were expected to practice efficient managerial skills in directing the activities in the institutions. These leaders possessed positional and command authority. This method emphasized on uniformity and efficiency in the delivery of resources.
Traditional concept of intelligence was overemphasized on verbal skills (Conway 3). research in America showed that prior to 1970, teachers’ behaviors were governed by behavioral psychology unlike in the modern world where cognitive psychology has taken precedence. The observable indications for learning guided the teachers on the styles to implement in their careers. The role of teachers was merely reduced to behavior reinforcement only. They would therefore determine what skills were to be included in the curricula so as to create a desired behavior amongst the students.
In 1983, the National Commission on Excellence in Education published ‘A Nation at Risk’. This transformed the educational sector in America for the good. Educational leaders met in the next two decades henceforth to come up with appropriate measures to implement in the education sector (Hargreaves 226). They were exhorted to transform into instructional leaders. Currently, education leadership still emphasizes on performance assessments, student learning standards and restructuring efforts. Institutional managements are taught to focus on decentralized and professional management structures (Kowalski 256). According to Danielson (114), the modern educational leader is one who makes substantial contribution to major school projects.
Currently, most educational psychologists find the old method of behavioral approach as being inefficient. They are more concerned with what was not observed in solving problems and learning strategies. These psychologists suggest that students should be allowed to actively construct knowledge which occurs only in a social context. Assistance from other people is perceived as very important in enhancing learning skills. Teachers should be able to build on the child’s experiences and give moderately challenging tasks to help in the development of the child in different stages. When students work in groups as opposed to working individually, they are able to focus on assignments that need solutions to problems as compared to learning content skills. The role of a teachers in this case is to provide resources and guidance while the students set their own goals.
Despite the tremendous achievement in educational transformation, Fullan (16) proposes a renewal in the focus on educational leadership. Researchers have suggested that there is no end to technology advancement and this can be ascertained by teachers and administrators. Americans have learned to appreciate the impact of technology on highways, at homes and many other places. Technological advancement should also be incorporated in the educational sector. Computers, distance learning and the Internet will soon be a common application to all levels of education due to the positive reception it is currently receiving worldwide.
Any cause of change is transformational. Generally, transformational leadership refers to the behaviors that result to change. Transformational leadership is based on the vision and mission of the institution, the objectives and network development. Leaders in this category identify and articulate the vision of an institution. They enhance the acceptance of corporate goals and have high targets of performance. Other than intellectual stimulation, they also provide appropriate models and develop strong institutional culture.
Studies have indicated that these leaders have strong moral purpose and understand the dynamics of change. The relationships they build encompasses emotional intelligence. They are not mean with knowledge. They share out any new information.
This form of leadership is involved with coordination and maintenance of an institution and its subsequent purpose and direction. Unlike management which deals with maintenance and coordination, leadership involves working with other people for a better future and the flexibility to respond to change. Models of school governance need to be more inclusive to adapt to the changes and the challenges of reform.
Executive leaders take longer time horizons to plan and create policies unlike the lower level leaders. They often interact with other external institutions than any other member of the organization. These executive leaders are more involved in developing networks and building consensus activities. Finally, they come up with a comprehensive cognitive map. Therefore, Superintendents and heads of schools must be the sources of change.
It is important for educational leaders to have different ways of approach to leadership. They must be endowed with the ability to discern which style is well suited for a specific situation. Due to the complexity of leadership, a combination of transformational and versatile leadership is very effective in decision making. Maturity in social and personal development is vital in executive leadership. Such leaders need to know and respond appropriately to the different situations. The skills employed should go hand in hand with the context. They should be broad minded and not have a fixed mind on issues.
Versatile leaders appreciate change in their operations and find the right approach to such new challenges. Among the requirements for these leaders are the senses of cue, clue and negotiation. Clue sense will encompass the ability to translate signals, learn behavior patterns and determine the appropriate behavior for a situation. Cue sense on the other hand is the ability to detect external signals so as to come up with a base support. Lastly, negotiating skills is being able to come up with solutions by examination of the varied positions and goals and being supported for the position taken. Social leaders require high social and cultural skills and interpersonal communication skills as well.
People in any organization have to be allowed to learn and develop. The leader comes in to ensure that learning goes on if the organization is to grow. Learning assists in building knowledge, enhance creativity for the sake of the future and analyzing and solving problems. It is therefore important that an environment that allows collective sharing of wisdom and opportunities is created for people to have new perspectives of thoughts. With learning comes efficiency and quality. A relational leader should stay in focus with what happens in the internal and the external relationships of the institution. The leader in this category needs to be a leader rather than a manager of the employees. He should have interpersonal savvy and be a team player. A relational leader should be able to manage the change in others.
Change is unpredictable. It is less of innovation but more of innovativeness; less of strategy but more of strategizing. Due to the complexity of change management, change processes must be addressed. There is no specific solution to a problem existing at a particular time. Each problem comes with its solution at the specific time. Change should have a reason and a possible solution. Some articulated reasons include significant loss of workforce and diminished resources. There should be a sufficient number of members in a committee dealing with issues of technological change. It should encompass credible, expertise and necessary management skills. This committee should first make a comprehensive needs assessment to convey the external and the internal strengths, opportunities, weaknesses and threats. A vision should be crafted to give the reasons for the change and the desired direction. It should give what parameters to be employed in order to achieve the desired goals. The objectives need to be measurable to define the general strategies. The technological change committee needs to have a work plan that clearly defines the tasks and the specific accomplishments the institution desires to achieve within a specific period of time. It should show the roles each player will undertake to see to it that the task is accomplished. All the undertakings of the committee need to be communicated to the members of the organization regularly for the sake of transparency and accountability. Every progress must be reported to the relevant authorities.
There should be no satisfaction to these changes. Constant revision is necessary. Modifications are necessary as the project matures. Stakeholders must be audited to ensure that they do what the plans indicate. Effectiveness and efficiency needs to be monitored to ensure that every player meets the required standards of performance. The change should have positive impact and leave behind satisfaction among all the members of the organization. The evaluation process should provide the information of whether the methods adopted are worth pursuing or are there other better methods to tackle the issue.
Education technology involves the use of multimedia technologies or audiovisual aids to enhance learning and teaching. There are arguments however as to how much use and acceptance of this technology is appropriate for learning institutions. Despite these arguments, it is important to note that technology keeps changing with the evolution of softwares and hardwares. It thus creates new educational opportunities. Since educational technologies are utilized in a classroom setting, they do not provide the optimum conditions for use. It is important to consider each grade, student and subject matter when analyzing education technology research. The teacher is a vital component in the implementation of new technology in education. Technology impact is more emphasized in teachers than students since teachers pass the information to many generations of students unlike students who move on.
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Danielson, C. Enhancing professional practice: A framework for teaching. Washington, DC: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. 1996.
Fullan, M. Leadership and sustainability. Principal Leadership, 3(4). December,2002: pp. 14–17. Retrieved June 25, 2004, from http://www.principals.org/news/pl_leadsustain_1202.cfm
Hargreaves, A. Sustainable Leadership and Development in Education: Creating the Future, conserving the past. European Journal of Education, Vol. 42, No. 2. Blackwell Publishing Ltd. 2007.
Kowalski, T. Public relations in schools (3rd ed.). New York: Prentice Hall. 2003.
McLester, S. The Cybrid Experiment, Technology ; Learning, March issue. 1997: pp 48-56.
Osten, M. Technology Leadership. Techsoup Org. March 19, 2001: pp. 2.
Valdez, G. Critical Issue: Technology Leadership:Enhancing Positive Educational Change. North Central Regional Educational Laboratory. July, 2004.