School-Level Strategic Technology Leadership in K-12 Education

School-Level Strategic Technology Leadership in K-12 Education

Howard V. Coleman (Coastal Carolina University, USA) and Jeremy Dickerson (Coastal Carolina University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 11
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch102


A significant need in K-12 education is the development of active, school-level technology leaders. The majority of principals and assistant principals receive limited learning experiences to become the effective technology leaders in their schools. This chapter will present an overview of the evolution of strategic educational leadership from traditional leadership theories emphasizing management, operations and processes to systemic, digital driven decision making models through the lens of school level technology leadership. Theories on establishing a technological vision and gaining followership among all stakeholders to ensure the effective implementation of strategies will be discussed. Strategic technology leadership in education is operationally defined as: 1) integrating technology in planning, management and decision making; 2) using technology to link district and school initiatives to learning content areas; 3) using technology to support and meet the needs of all learners; and 4) using technology as the key means for providing high quality professional development for all educators (NEIRTEC, 2002).
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The effort to embed technology via increasingly complex digital instructional formats is one of the most important factors in promoting successful strategic educational leadership practices (Greaves, Hayes, Wilson, Gielniak, & Peterson, 2010). This represents a shift from traditional school leaders who typically outsource technology issues to other staff members or implement basic technology operations that fails to ensure high quality student learning within technological frameworks. Many school leaders are limited in how they use technology to promote effective strategic planning, implementation and achievement of outcomes. School leaders must be committed to the systemic integration of technology into schools and to sustaining the use of digital technologies in data management, analysis and decision making. This requires a systems thinking approach relative to making the integration of technology a seamless part of all strategic leadership planning, implementation and monitoring. School leaders must be able to develop a school vision that includes systemic technologies to provide support for the increasingly diverse students in public schools (Slenning, 2000). This chapter will present a discussion on the importance of future school leaders acquiring the knowledge and skills to use technology and digital tools to implement strategic planning. These skills include gaining an understanding of how to use technology to maximize its impact on educational change efforts, intervention programs, student achievement and the efficient use of resources. In addition, future school leaders must also understand the importance of role modeling to support all students and teachers in the process of embedding technology into the school culture.

As schools move forward, there is a new form of “digital divide” that must be recognized. This is the divide between schools being led by school-level technology leaders and those which are not being led by school-level technology leaders. The term “technology-driven school leader” refers primarily to a school leader who understands how technology must be used as a foundational tenet from which the school operates, develops and succeeds in providing high quality instructional environments. Although it is certainly helpful for school leaders to be power-users relative to the personal use of technologies, it is more important that school leaders operate from a technology framework such as the National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators published by the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE NETS-A, 2009). These Standards are:

  • Visionary leadership (with technology)

  • Digital-age learning culture

  • Excellence in professional practice

  • Systemic improvement (with technology)

  • Digital citizenship

The NETS-A provide school leaders a series of mental processes via the Standards themselves, as well as indicators, which can be used to gain an understanding of how well the Standards are being implemented within a school. These Standards are essential for school leaders today for several reasons. First, due to the extremely high number of technologies being used by teachers and students today, it is easy to not have a valid or reliable way of assessing why technologies are being used or a way of determining the impact of these technologies within a classroom or school. Using these Standards as a guide, school leaders may have a way to categorize and assess the current uses of technologies within a school based on which Standards the school is working towards, which of the Standards are not being addressed, and which Standards not being adequately addressed.

The second reason that these Standards are essential for school-level technology leaders is school leaders must consider all aspects of a school, including students, achievement, teachers, infrastructure and support. The Standards provide balance, depth and breadth for the total picture of the school. This allows school leaders to use a 360 degree perspective towards technology integration and hopefully refrain from focusing on small initiatives or losing sight of the school’s vision.

Key Terms in this Chapter

School Leader: Person who is responsible for the welfare and operations of the school, typically referred to as the school principal in U.S. schools.

Technology Professional Development: Training provided to teachers in the area of technologies relevant to their work in a school.

Digital Divide: A perceived gap between groups in reference to technology.

NETS-A: National Educational Technology Standards for Administrators published by the International Society for Technology in Education.

School-Level Technology Leader: Person who is the point-person, leader and primary decision-maker in terms of technology within a school.

Strategic Technology Leadership: Integrating technology in planning, management and decision making.

Key Technology Infrastructure: The computer workstations, mobile technologies, servers, printers, software licenses and security functionality related to the technologies within a school.

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