The Impact of Technology on School Leadership

The Impact of Technology on School Leadership

Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61350-068-2.ch062
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Past, present, and future perspectives on the impact of technology on school leadership are included, viewed through the framework of published school leadership standards. The chapter concludes with comment about technology induced issues likely to be faced by school leaders in the near future, followed by advice about the personal qualities required for future school leaders to confront these issues.
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What is the relevance of a chapter about the impact of technology on school leadership in an era of increasing public accountability, where questions about the role of schools and standards of educational attainment are more frequently heard? The author argues that it is critically relevant. Educational technology of some kind can be found in almost every school within the developed world and many of the latest technological developments have become more targeted towards the enormous worldwide educational market. Sound academic research (Robinson, Hohepa, & Lloyd, 2009) indicates that the school leader’s role is critical to the achievement of positive learning outcomes for students, with technology being increasingly seen, rightly or wrongly, as a contributing factor to those outcomes.

Who are the school leaders to whom this chapter is addressed? In the context of this chapter, school leaders comprise two distinct groups, those who have a formally constituted role and those who exercise leadership informally. Titles differ from country to country and jurisdiction to jurisdiction but, the former group includes titles such as school superintendents, principals, headmasters, deputy leaders, middle management leaders, curriculum leaders, and also groups such as school governors and trustees. The latter group comprises those who do not have a formal title but who have an influence on leadership issues. Those who have a particular talent not formally recognized in a title, such as the most technologically literate teacher in the school, the most experienced teacher in the school or, a person from a particular cultural or language group, also exert leadership in an indirect manner. These people are often consulted on leadership issues or offer germane comments in meetings and within reports on leadership issues, their opinions being particularly valued despite their personal lack of a formal leadership title on their job description.

Leadership is distinct from management and administration (Latchem & Jung, 2010). One distinction found within many definitions denotes leadership as a visionary process, usually collaboratively developed, where change decisions are made, whereas management and administration imply an authority relationship between managers and subordinates whereby change is implemented and stabilized (Razik & Swanson, 2010). The term leadership in its broader sense has been selected to be the focus of this chapter because “Leadership is necessary to create, articulate, and implement a vision of what should be.” (Surgenor, 2009, p. 64).

School leadership theories abound but may be grouped into two categories, transformational and pedagogical. Transformational leadership includes qualities such as vision and generalized abilities to stimulate motivation and effort; it is equally applicable to schools and businesses. Pedagogical leadership has, by definition, a focus on teaching and learning, so is thereby more applicable to the school context than to business (Robinson, Hohepa & Lloyd, 2009). Both theoretical frameworks will be considered in the discussion that follows, as both are applicable to varied forms of leadership within the education sector.

Technology is an inclusive term for applied science, often associated with machinery. The more commonly applied form of technology in schools is information and communication technology (ICT), technology such as computers in all their various forms, mobile phones and the like, that are used to manipulate information, communicate between people and access the internet. Use of ICT tools to assist learning is often termed e-learning. In this chapter the term technology will be primarily used in reference to ICT, both e-learning and administrative use of ICT tools, as both will be shown to be relevant to educational leadership.

The discussion that follows will briefly revue the historical impact of technology on school leadership to provide a baseline for the discussion, then examine the impact of technology on school leaders in the present and, finally, attempt to envisage the impact of technology on school leadership in the near future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Education: Courses taught entirely online, where physical distance between teacher and student is immaterial.

M-Learning: Mobile learning is any learning process that involves the use of a wireless enabled mobile digital device.

E-Learning: Learning that includes the use of ICT.

ICT: Information and communication technology.

Social Networking: An internet enabled social communication network that helps people share personal information and communicate more efficiently with friends, family, and co-workers.

Smartphones: Defined as a large-screen, voice-centric handheld device designed to offer complete phone functions while simultaneously functioning as a personal digital assistant. Smartphones incorporate mobile web access anywhere, anytime, at the touch of a finger.

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