In a rapidly changing world, educators have been forced to self-examine and come to terms with approaches that are inefficient and irrelevant–from outmoded ways of setting up classrooms to equating school success solely on standardized metrics. Innovation and transformation in schools can’t happen unless we tackle entrenched practices and mindsets in bold and specific ways.

How can we best harness the positive aspects of technology to improve student learning and the schools we work in?

As a first step, we need to disrupt the status quo that’s embedded in the education system by developing new ways of looking at things that transform the world. We create permanent change only by identifying and communicating what shifts need to occur as well as illustrating how effective these approaches are at improving education. When we apply principals of efficacy to the Pillars of Digital Leadership, we’re well on our way toward integrating technology with confidence that learning will be transformed.

The 7 pillars of digital leadership

Pillar 1: Student engagement, learning, and achievement: Enhancing essential skill sets that society demands
Schools should reflect real life, allowing and encouraging students to apply what they’ve learned through the tools they use outside of school. Communication, collaboration, creativity, media literacy, global connectedness, problem solving, and critical thinking are vital to success. Within a solid pedagogical approach, digital tools and social media allow students to create artifacts of learning that demonstrate conceptual mastery and, when framed within an structure such as The Rigor and Relevance Framework, cultivate learner autonomy.

How to apply the 7 Pillars of Digital Leadership in relevant and measurable ways

Which technology, implemented in which specific and measurable ways, drives skill acquisition and conceptual understanding within that objective? This means aligning actual results that show improvement in terms of engagement, learning, and achievement evidenced by a Return on Instruction.

Pillar 2: Professional growth and development: Leveraging tools that allow pursuit of passions
Traditional forms of professional development (PD) such as “sit and get,” one-size-fits-all, and trainings lacking accountability have proven obsolete. Digital tools now allow for professional learning to take place anytime, anywhere, and with anyone. Personal learning networks allow educators to acquire resources, access knowledge, receive feedback, and connect with others. Digital badges are an exciting way to acknowledge both formal and informal learning.

To build efficacy in this pillar, we ask, what are clearly identified areas of needed growth and what measurable solutions will address development? And, how do we measure the impacts of PD on students and student learning?

(Next page: Re-envisioning learning spaces, improving communications, and more)

About the Author:

Eric Sheninger is a senior fellow and thought leader on digital leadership & learning with the International Center for Leadership in Education and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Through practitioner‐driven, professional-learning solutions focused on leading and learning in the digital age, Sheninger assists school leaders in embracing and effectively utilizing technology to move schools and districts forward.

As principal of New Milford High School in New Jersey, Sheninger oversaw the successful implementation of several sustainable change initiatives that radically transformed the learning culture at his school while increasing achievement. New Milford High became a globally recognized model for innovative practices under his tenure. His efforts to implement technology as a mechanism for transforming teaching, learning and community engagement has led to the formation of the Pillars of Digital Leadership, a framework for all educators to initiate sustainable change to transform school cultures.

He is also the best-selling author of Digital Leadership, BrandED, UnCommon Learning, and, most recently, Learning Transformed.