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digital-leap

Leading the Digital Leap


digital-leapDespite the fact that technology use is part of daily life, on balance, schools’ use of technology remains far from ubiquitous. There is no question that some teachers, principals, and district leaders have made considerable progress in using technology to transform learning. And there are strong examples of school districts that are leading digital change system-wide. However, there exists a major challenge: Few school systems have found a way to create a sustainable, digitally-enabled ecosystem.

The irony is real: Some school systems have not yet realized the promise of technology, for reasons that are varied and complex. Many schools and classrooms lack robust technology infrastructure due to affordability and adequate funding barriers, as identified in CoSN and AASA’s new national E-rate and infrastructure survey. Other factors include district cultures where there is apprehension and often aversion to changes that occur through technology, or a history of past tech investments that were not well-aligned to district needs. While in other cases, districts’ inability to experience an effective digital transformation rests with a lack of human capacity and communication, from vision setting to technical implementation.

District administrators and school board members, though, have an opportunity today to surmount these barriers. To empower K-12 system leaders to make or advance their digital leap, we at AASA, CoSN, and NSBA have formed a powerful partnership. This partnership, which brings together the leading professional organizations for superintendents, district technology leaders, and school boards nationwide, lends our knowledge, resources, and networks to help school system leaders strengthen their ability to lead the digital leap.

(Next page: What is the digital leap?)

You might reasonably ask, “What is the ‘digital leap?’” Your district may, after all, already have a technology foundation in place. The digital leap is more than just providing computers in a classroom or the central library. The digital leap is providing an enriched learning environment – enabled by technology – for ALL children, regardless of their unique needs or geographic location. It is moving beyond technology as one more silo and positions it as a catalyst for every part of the learning enterprise, starting with establishing a strategic vision and community conversations led by local school boards and superintendents.

A sustainable digital leap is ubiquitous, reflected in everything, including engaging curriculum, targeted professional development, effective operations, and parental outreach strategies. Taking this “leap” is a critical step on the journey to ensure that all students have an opportunity to interact with learning environments that expand their world, and prepare them for tomorrow.

We must shift the conversation from “should we invest in technology” to “how does technology enable lifelong learners?” Increasingly, discussion is moving from the “why” to the “how.”

As part of our “Leading the Digital Leap” effort, we are supporting each level of school leadership on the “how,” and, specifically, where individuals can:

See the digital leap in action at site visits;
Learn through a wealth of resources; and
• Discover what leaders can do to catalyze their own districts’ leap.

Now is the time for innovative approaches that leverage digital tools in ways that personalize learning. When we realize how digital resources pique student interest and expand teaching and learning opportunities, we set the stage for greater achievement and provide students an opportunity to become prepared for college, career, and life.

It’s time to build, nurture, and sustain digitally-based learning environments. Join us in leading the digital leap at: LeadDigitalLeap.org.

Daniel A. Domenech is the Executive Director of AASA, The School Superintendents Association; Keith Krueger is the CEO of CoSN (Consortium for School Networking); and Thomas J. Gentzel is the Executive Director of NSBA (National School Boards Association).

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Laura Ascione

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