The Technology Source, September/October 2001

The school system of Victoria, Australia, has made a major effort in the past ten years to integrate technology into the classroom and administrative offices. Simultaneously, large-scale changes in curriculum have been instituted. Furthermore, principals have been given authority over approximately 95 percent of their annual budgets. Thus, principals have been faced with multiple and complex changes, as well as the means to address those changes.

A survey of principals in the district reveals some of the effects they have felt and some of the benefits that have accrued:

– Understanding information technology is an absolute must. Principals do not feel they need to be technical experts, but they need to be aware of the equipment and software that is available and its potential uses.

– Exposure to technology comes from multiple sources. Professional training programs are one valuable resource, but principals say they learn a great deal about technology from their staff, their teachers, and from interaction with parents and students. Being open to all of these resources is essential.

– Computers have not decreased workload and work flow, but they have changed it. Basic tasks such as word processing and budgeting have been simplified, but expectations that principals will communicate with various constituencies have increased dramatically as the perception of “easy communications” has increased.

– eMail has limitations. Principals note that it is still very important to maintain personal, face-to-face contact with each teacher and staff member. The temptation to communicate only by eMail must be resisted.

– Principals have more control over their work flow. For example, principals can more easily work on projects from home by tapping into their schools’ networks. Also, with web access, they can readily find cutting-edge information about new teaching methods or grant programs that might be available to their staff or students.

– Teachers have only scratched the surface when it comes to the use of computers in the classroom.