Learning Leadership and Technology Enhanced Learning: From Rhetoric to Reality

Learning Leadership and Technology Enhanced Learning: From Rhetoric to Reality

Celia O'Hagan (Stranmillis University College, Queens University, UK)
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 22
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-1591-4.ch001
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Abstract

The development of technology in the classroom has gone through significant change in the last two decades. Inevitably there is a shift in vision within schools and colleges, requiring educational leaders to advance both tools for information and communication technologies as aids in the classroom and creative multimedia to offer a more comprehensive teaching and learning environment. This is particularly true where a strategy for whole school pertains. Effective leadership in education is also viewed in this light as integral to the advancement of technology enhanced learning both strategically and operationally. This chapter, in keeping with the theme of 'mediated learning', will advance the discussion for readers around the concept of teaching and learning-focused design and offers practical models for consideration both for leaders in education and for teachers in the classroom.
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Introduction

The development of technology in the classroom has gone through significant change in the last two decades (Salmon, 2019; Vanderlinde & van Braak, 2013; Liu, 2010; Condie & Livingston, 2007). Inevitably there is a shift in vision within schools and colleges, requiring educational leaders to advance both tools for information and communication technologies as aids in the classroom, and creative multimedia to offer a more comprehensive teaching and learning environment. This is particularly true where a strategy for whole-school pertains. Effective leadership in education is also viewed in this light as integral to the advancement of technology enhanced learning both strategically and operationally (Wu et al., 2019; Hakansson, 2019; Gu, Crook & Spector, 2019; Vermeulen et al., 2017). Learning leadership is therefore a welcomed new phenomena, one that uniquely supports the educational leader who focuses on the effectiveness of teaching and learning as a principled priority (DE, 2016). This new concept of leadership provides a post-modern view, consequently, of the learning environment placing educational leaders over educational designers at the center of the debate, perhaps for the first time. Excellence in teaching and learning, is at the core of the learning leadership aspiration. Leithwood and Janzi (2006) and Gurr, Drysdale and Mulford (2006) have shown the value of transformative leadership strategies outlining how they might easily become a core facet in the decision making process around technologies and the selection of more modern teaching and learning tools and aids. Why then do we continue to hear of the needs in our schools regionally, nationally and internationally, linked so often to poor levels of learner’ skill development (including the skills of information and communication technology [ICT]), lower than desired levels of thinking capabilities amidst our youth in society and, most disappointingly, the out of date nature of school or college pedagogies influencing these deficits not to mention the issues that arise potentially as a consequence (Kearney & Pivec, 2007). Technology enhanced learning, as a toolkit for teaching and learning, is viewed in research circles as an addition to the teacher’s resource that can motivate, proliferate and enhance subject teaching methodologies. It is clearly not viewed as a replacement for the ‘warm-blooded teacher’, rather a supportive additional tool that the teacher may add to their repertoire. Much research compares the ICT competences of school leadership teams, not least within the senior management team, reporting on the essential work that is needed in terms of skill development, a more comprehensive vision for technology but, perhaps most interestingly, the apparent need for a distributed model of championship or what many call role modelling for TEL to truly become a reality (Uluyol & Sahin, 2016; Wastiau, Blamire & Kearney, 2013; Hately & Schiller, 2003; Sweeney, 2005; Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller, 2006). This stems, it would seem, from a gap in skill among senior management but perhaps even more concerning is the lack of vision for tech tools seemingly as a consequent of their personal deficit. And so it is important to understand what we mean by technology enhanced learning, as this is now an ever-stretched term, aligned to rhetoric around the digital age, divide, social media and mobile and virtual learning debates. In this chapter, the author will contrast the variance of defining principles associated with ‘teaching’, ‘learning’ and ‘assessment’ to clarify the confusion which is described here as the tech rhetoric-barrier. Too much time has been wasted conveying the message of the value of tech-tools known as web technologies and more recently 4th and 5th generation classrooms. It is now time to improve practices and implement technology enhanced learning (TEL) strategies that will have an impact on learners and their learning. A model of TEL is proposed to support whole-brain aware teachers as they progress to implement effective post-modernist strategies in the school or college, and, in the classroom. The time for challenge and change in now.

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