Instructional Leadership, Learning, Teaching and Instruction, Technology, Uncategorized

The Role of the Instructional Leader in Technology Integration

Part 3- Gaining an Understanding

Technology use should live within instruction and learning. Since instruction and learning are a responsibility of school administrators so too is the integration of technology. Today’s leaders must strive to initiate, promote, and support the effective use of technology in the educational environments by creating and supporting opportunities for teachers to learn with, about, and from technology. In this way they can create and support opportunities for learning with, about, and from technology for students.

Julia Kara-Soteriou (2009) suggests that instructional leaders can jump into this learning by taking the initiative for their own learning in three key ways.

  1. Gain an Understanding
  2. Embrace and Model Technology
  3. Actively Demonstrate Leadership

I believe that those three components can provide leaders with the “on ramp” to creating an environment that is technology rich and more importantly learning rich.

In Gaining an Understanding leaders are required to “step into the technology pool” with a willingness to explore. Exploration can range from opening the channels of communication with colleagues about technology; to actively pursuing professional development opportunities; to joining a web-based Professional Learning Network (PLN). Opportunities to use technology for learning are everywhere and leaders need to grab those opportunities with the mindset of educators and learners. This proactive learning should be driven by the needs and interests of the leader, their staff and their students. Though gaining an understanding leaders are able to actively engage in conversations and share their own experiences. This can inspire others to begin their own journeys of understanding.

Within a plethora of possibilities for exploration lies the opportunity for leaders to choose their own adventure, have fun and learn. From adventures in trying new hardware (iPads, computers, Smart Phones, Smart Boards, Document Cameras, digital photography etc.) to adventures in trying software (YouTube, Twitter, Blogging, Outlook Calendars, Excel, Internal Portal Systems, Google Documents, Flickr etc.) the opportunities to harness and share these experiences in learning are plentiful. What is necessary in this exploration is for instructional leaders to gain an understanding of how the digital tool or technology works AND an understanding of how those tools can support, enhance and transform learning for teachers and students. Instructional leadership in technology grows from personal experiences and play.

Instructional leaders should be pioneers in learning. They are people who are willing to step out into the unknown, experiment and actively pursue learning. They also possess the skills that inspire others to follow them in learning. Through a willingness to take risks and share their own learning, leaders create a space where other feel safe to do the same. An instructional leader with an understanding of technology can make a significant difference in inspiring technology integration in schools.

Kara-Soteriou, J. (2009). Promoting technology integration through the leadership of school administrators. New England Reading Association Journal. 91-95.

Instructional Leadership, Saskatchewan Curricula, Technology, Uncategorized

Taking the Lead in Technology Integration: Instructional Leadership in 21st Century Schools

Part 2- Technology and Curricula

In Saskatchewan our curricula is mandated by the provincial government and built around a framework designed to support teacher instruction and student learning.  Curricula revolves around the constructs of The Broad Areas of Learning and The Cross Curricular Competences.  These constructs represent the vision for education in Saskatchewan, made up of the beliefs, values and understandings our students need to acquire  throughout their Kindergarten to Grade 12 learning journey. 

 The Broad Areas of Learning create a foundation for this vision that expects Saskatchewan graduates to become Lifelong Learners, have a Sense of Self Community and Place, and take their place as Engaged Citizens in our local, provincial, national, and global community.  In this 21st Century world it would be impossible to imagine any of those three areas void of technological understandings and digital fluency.  By not integrating technology in the instructional design of our current classrooms we fail to prepare our students for the world as it is today, let alone the world they will inherit in the future.  At the end of grade 12 students need to be lifelong learners in ways that include technology.  Their sense of self, community and place is not limited to the confines of the classroom, school or even local community.  Becoming an engaged citizen in a global community is now not only a possibility, but a necessity in a world that is becoming increasingly connected.  Understanding what global digital citizenship is, and how to become a contributing member of it, are critical understandings for students today. 

In addition to the foundation provided by the Broad Areas of Learning, the Cross Curricular Competencies provide an interrelated way of viewing important understandings, values, skills and processes that go beyond subject specific areas of study.  (Saskatchewan Ministry of Education, 2010)  These Competences expect that students in our education system will develop their thinking, their identity and interdependence, their literacies and their sense of social responsibility.  The Saskatchewan Ministry of Education clearly states that “embedded within these four competencies is the effective use of technology for teaching and learning.”  (p.23)  Once again, technology is not an add-on for teaching and learning.  It is a part of the teaching and learning. 

In order for our education system to meet the vision and intent of the Broad Areas of Learning and Cross Curricular Competencies technological integration in education can no longer be ignored.  It is a mandatory component in education and needs to thrive within the classrooms, schools, curricula and learning in Saskatchewan. 

Students deserve an education that will prepare them for the technology driven world that exists today and will surely exist in the future. 

To create these learning opportunities teachers, administrators and entire school systems will need to embrace and support the use of technology in instruction and student learning.