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4 questions every tech leader should answer
1. How can you move beyond just ‘technology’? “As you retool and move beyond technical skills to become an instructional leader, how do you position yourself to be an equal partner with curriculum, instruction, and assessment colleagues?”
According to CoSN, one of the most dramatic and important ways in which attitudes about technology in K-12 have changed over the years is related to collaboration between technology specialist and curriculum leaders.
“No longer can these two groups continue to work in separate silos,” notes the report. “Today’s mandate is for the technology to support instruction and instructional leaders to pay attention to the technology tools that are available to make teaching and learning more meaningful to students.”
Based on the technology leaders forum CoSN hosted, presenters and participants introduced several ways technology and curriculum could work together.
For example, it’s crucial, notes the report, that technology leaders start with an “educational vision and goals, not the device or the applications,” because teaching and learning needs to drive technology.
Also, technology leaders should make sure not to use “techie talk” that can alienate those who don’t speak it–instead, they should focus on arriving at a common language.
School and district leaders should also make sure that technology specialists spend time in classrooms participating, observing, and coming to understand what students and teachers needs, says the report.
More suggestions relating to Question 1 on bridging technology and curriculum can be found in CoSN’s report (reports are only available to members or for a fee).
2. Are you going digital? “Are you advocating for the elimination of the traditional textbook adoption process in order to speed up the transition to digital content?”
As CoSN describes, the migration from print textbooks to digital content has accelerated in recent years, fueled by budget concerns and the needs of personalized learning.
“The cost-savings involved in no longer purchasing, storing, and deploying textbooks can be significant and help defray the costs for technology purchases and maintenance,” notes the report. “In addition, the instructional benefits of digital content—from timelines and relevance to the ability to customize to the needs of individual students, classrooms, and communities—have won over critics and led to a number of states to demand digital alternatives to the traditional textbook.”
Forum participants said moving to digital can be done, but there are still many challenges. For instance, it remains difficult to locate content for a range of subject areas, and “even more difficult to evaluate the content to ensure that it is of high quality,” says the report.
Also, in “textbook adoption” states, where a centralized group has been responsible for evaluating textbooks and making purchasing decisions, the vetting process need to change to allow for more localized choice while still sharing expert opinions on the best materials available.
“Digital object repositories that teachers and students can pull from, as needed, are [also] powerful alternatives to textbooks,” according to report highlights. “An ideal system is one that encourages both home-grown contributions from local teacher and shared resources from multiple states and organizations.”
(Next page: The “right” data and modern PD)