Change is an interest in the human experience. It is well-known that attitudes to it can be self-perpetuating. For many teachers or people in general, change is not easy to accept. However, teachers live and teach in a changing society. Education itself closely linked to change as it exists just like teachers in a world of change. This means that it is essential that it has to prepare its students for a life of change.
So educational changes are vital if you as the ICT leader of your school are to ensure that you promote a lasting change particularly as technology is constantly changing. If your aim is to maximise student learning through the integration and implementation of digital technologies throughout the curriculum, then the educational leadership skills found in this educational leadership course and below to be of much value to your professional learning.
First, it is important to define a few things like ‘what is educational leadership’ and ‘why is educational leadership important’?
Educational leaders create a vision for the school and guide its staff and its community towards that vision. They ensure academic success through the process, material, and training improvements. Effective leadership in schools is achieved in relation to the integration of digital technologies:
- Developing the vision together with the whole staff;
- Communicating effectively and supportively about the importance of technology integration;
- Leading by example and carrying the banner for technology integration at the school;
- Support technology integration;
- Provide professional development opportunities for teachers using technology in the classroom and;
- Secure resources to support technology use and integration.
These are the reasons why ICT leadership in education is important. In the early childhood and primary education sector, it is of increasing significance as the two combined are responsible for the foundations of learning progression in child ICT capability. ICT leaders, whether it will be the principal, the ICT coordinator or the learning technologies leaders, are responsible for promoting this lasting change.
Secondly, you need to understand the basis for change as a leader in education. At least two entities are involved in the change process – the individual and the group. Change happens for individuals when they encounter information that conflicts with their existing knowledge base. Groups encounter change as a result of disequilibrium or conflict with other groups and this can occur on a cultural level, technological level, or socio-economic level for example.
If you are one these people then you would do well to consider what is commonly described as the change equation:
- You could perhaps try the following to overcome such issues:
- Exploit teachers’ dissatisfaction with what they are doing at present.
- Attempt to create an image of what advantages to children and teachers the prosed change will mean.
- Convey some idea as to the steps that will need to be taken.
Time is certainly an issue when it comes to change. School leadership and management in relation to ICT needs to understand that today teachers are working harder than before. For change to be successful and sustainable, teachers need time to understand ICT and integrate ICT into their practice. It also needs:
A prudent focus on a manageable number of priorities rather than scattered attempts to change everything and;
To be supported by sufficient resources, high quality learning materials and PD for teachers using technology in the classroom.
Time is a key problem for all teachers and there are very few teachers who will concede that they have enough during their workday. Any sort of change will place demands on their existing commitments and educational leadership needs to demonstrate patience and perseverance in “understanding what the change requires, working clumsily and less competently through the change’s first faltering steps and learning how to integrate the changes into existing routines so that they become as effortless as possible in their job” Hargreaves (2003, p.105). The teachers under your leadership in schools are not only the casualties but the catalyst of change and so leadership in education must adhere to these attributes.
Technology and Change
As discussed briefly earlier, technology plays a strong role in educational changes. There are five stages of change that depend on individual characteristics and innovation characteristics and are comprised of the following (Rogers, 1962 as cited in ICI Global):
In each of these stages, the educational leadership roles and that of teachers themselves include:
- Awareness – at this point there is no knowledge of a situation and educational leadership and management need to let staff know that something is happening. This will involve getting their attention one way or another.
- Information (receiving) – teachers begin to receive the information but don’t give any feedback. Educational leaders start by giving objective information through documents or presentations.
- Personal (responding) – teachers begin to react and communication is two-way. Educational leaders can optimise learning at this stage by showing the immediate benefits of the new information to the learner. Teachers need to know that support is available.
- Management – teachers try to fit information into their practice. It is better if they are supported in their practices by an instructor so that it will more likely that they will value that information and take intellectual risks.
- Consequence (valuing) – teachers may begin to question their return on investment. Educational leaders need to applaud this critical analysis and suggest alternative strategies.
- Collaboration (organisation) – teachers want to optimise new information integration at this stage and educational leaders should encourage them to support each other and share best practices through establishing networks that foster communities of practice.
- Re-focus – teachers become pro-active who work to sustain and institutionalise change for the entire organisation.
Such principles of educational leadership and management serves as a means for the effective integration of digital technologies in key learning areas.
For change to occur, there also needs strong leadership in teaching and learning too. Teachers themselves, who are not only the casualties but the catalyst of change in schools need to carry the mantel of practicing effective technology integration in the classroom.
The leadership of change in schools must not come from both educational leaders and from the teachers. However, change must modelled by educational leadership and management.
As an educational leader, you need to promote technology in the classroom and you can do this in a number of ways:
- Focus on system improvement, where you provide leadership as a means to increase organisation through the use of digital technologies in the school.
- Put an emphasis on a purposeful change to ensure the achievement of the digital technology learning goals that you establish.
- With other educational leadership and management, collaborate to collect and analyse data that may increase both staff performance and student learning.
- Recruit personnel who are highly competent in implementing and using digital technologies and whose involvement will facilitate the attainment of learning goals.
- Consolidate partnerships to ensure that supports necessary to achieve systemic improvement overall.
- Develop and maintain an infrastructure that is supportive of teaching and learning with digital technologies.
(Hughes and Burke, 2014, p.92)
In this educational leadership professional development, we take this further in ensuring that you gain further expertise to achieve and sustain ICT capability when your staff integrates technology in the classroom. The educational leadership development that you will experience will ensure you lead purposeful change at your school.
If you are in leadership and education, here is what you can do according to Kennewell (2000):
- Ensure that financial support is available to update and maintain the equipment on a rolling program;
- Use ICT in your own administration and occasional teaching;
- Encourage teachers to attend all online professional development courses for teachers to enhance their own ICT capability;
- Work with small groups or individuals within the school system so that they are able to build the momentum and involve others in the process of change;
- Be involved in the practice of reflective and critical thinking about the culture and organisation of their schools, and about the ways in which this culture may need to change;
- Consider how the imposition of change can lead to low morale, dissatisfaction and reduced commitment by individuals within the school system;
- Win over the hearts and minds of teachers to the extent that they feel in control and have ownership of the new order;
- Demonstrate effective personal use of ICT and classroom organisation for student’s use of ICT;
- Be positive about integrating ICT rather than relinquishing responsibility to the ICT coordinator;
- Be enthusiastic in developing ICT capability in the curriculum and worked closely with the ICT coordinator to check the extent to which the agreed policy and schemes were being implemented in various departments;
- Recognise the need to pursue many other initiatives and plan to involve additional help in the monitoring process;
- Adopt an approach that involves some type of collaborative management to maximise the skills, commitment and energy of your staff to create a ‘potent and catalytic mix for successful change and development;
- Allow adequate time and resources but have deadlines and clear targets as well as the support required to achieve them.
Online Professional Development for Educational Leaders in ICT integration in Primary School
The integration of ICT in education is an essential part of a child’s learning as society continues to transform thanks to new technological developments. Educational leadership in ICT is in the best position to prepare students today for the development of ICT capability.