“If it’s edtech, it must be good,” used to be the mantra in schools. In fact, many district technology plans fluctuated depending upon the latest fads and what someone learned at a conference and had little connection to curriculum or learning goals. Now, recognizing the disconnect between school and district leaders, the realities of the technology infrastructure, and classroom needs, CoSN and AASA have created the Empowered Superintendent initiative, which is dedicated to helping superintendents, aspiring superintendents, and district leadership teams build their knowledge, skills, and confidence as technology leaders.
During “The Empowered Superintendent: Leading Digital Transformation,” the first in a new edWebinar series, Dr. David Schuler, Superintendent of (IL) Township High School District 214, and Dr. Chris Gaines, superintendent of Mehlville (MO) School District, along with host Ann McMullan, project director of the CoSN Empowered Superintendents Program, discussed the goals of the program. Overall, they implored listeners to move away from using “tech for tech’s sake” and to become intentional adopters of technology that enhances teaching and learning.
Focusing on the first module of The Empowered Superintendent Toolkit, 3.0, The Five Imperatives of Technology Leadership, the presenters explored how they have shifted their approaches to integrating edtech in the classroom.
Imperative 1: Strengthen district leadership and communication
The first imperative isn’t just about telling the school community about the district’s tech plan, but, more important, ensuring they understand the learning goals are attached to the plan. Once a technology plan is adopted, superintendents needs to make sure all constituents have a laser focus on implementing it as developed, evaluating successes and failures, and then discussing how to move forward. The instructional team can only be effective when everyone agrees on the non-negotiable goals.
Imperative 2: Raise the bar with rigorous, transformative, and innovative learning and skills
Technology allows teachers to expand their lessons outside of the classroom and make connections beyond their communities. Instead of isolated lessons, students learn how to connect their studies with real-world problems. School leaders should encourage educators to use edtech that promotes skills like creativity and problem solving, which will serve the student no matter what profession they choose.
Imperative 3: Transform pedagogy with compelling learning environments
Classroom design today often looks like it did 50, or even 100, years ago with rows of desks facing the teacher. That stagnation of the environment mirrors the stagnation in how many classrooms still work (a teacher at the front, lecturing students and asking them to repeat back what they learned). Schools need to throw out that