A lot of schools have learning technologies and EdTech tools, but what sets exemplary schools apart is how their leaders can model using the technologies effectively. As technology plays a mission-critical role in schools, technology literacy for administrators and principals is becoming mission-critical as well.
School leaders find the ability to use technology a genuine necessity and find that it benefits them in helping them meet their responsibilities. Educational leaders around the world are effectively leveraging technology to help reform the practices of teaching and learning in their institutions.
Some real-life practices of tech savvy educational leaders are listed below:
- Bruce Borchers, Principal at Mankato West High School in Mankato, Minnesota, sets a perfect example of what a tech-savvy school leader should be like. Borchers works with his library media specialist to support teachers to increase integration of technology in all courses, especially the use of reliable online sources of information in research and problem solving. He has made it high-priority to provide students with access to technology, enabled through the library and open computer labs and wireless connectivity for student-owned laptops and handhelds is also provided. As a Principal, Borchers makes it a point to communicate regularly and effectively with staff, parents, and community using emails and websites. His school board reports are illustrated with graphs and photos embedded in multimedia presentations. He uses the student information system, to track the day-to-day operations of the school by accessing schedules, attendance records, health records, grades and online teacher gradebooks. He keeps track of all information with his personal digital assistant, synchronized with his desktop computer. Borchers’ own understanding and use of technology help him create rules and policies regarding school use of technology that are both reasonable and effective.
- Joe Oliphant is the Technology Director and Principal at Propel Schools, Pennsylvania. Over the past years, Joe has used his passion and deep understanding of technology to establish Propel as a technology leader. Joe has enabled Propel schools to embrace innovative technology practices that are embedded into the curriculum. He has led the planning and implementation of SMART Boards, projectors, document cameras, sound systems and student response systems into nearly every classroom. Owing to his efforts, Propel is at the forefront of 21st century technology education. Joe has implemented video-conferencing equipment into Propel’s classrooms that connect the teachers, students and families with resources all over the world. Propel students recently connected with NASA where they had the opportunity to learn from NASA educators. At Propel MONTOUR, Digital Classroom was initiated which comprised of SMART Classroom Suite software and 25 tablet personal computers, revolutionizing teaching and engaging students through technology. Propel was recognized as a Smart Showcase School District in March 2010, an honor only given to four districts statewide.
- Christopher J. Timmis is Superintendent at Adrian Public Schools, Michigan where a 1:1 iPad initiative has been implemented that includes the creation of a custom app, Virtual Locker. iPads, iPod Touches, SMART Boards, document cameras, and mobile tablet devices are used to improve the ability of teachers to deliver instruction. It is one of only four districts in the world (one of two in the U.S.) participating in the International Baccalaureate (IB) Open World Schools Pilot, that offers online courses to any student, anywhere in the world, regardless of whether or not they attend an IB school. These technology initiatives have increased the school percentile rankings and its high school ACT scores are now in the top 10 of all schools in Michigan. The schools believe that this is not solely the result of technology, but the technology serves as an instrumental tool to increase student engagement, create smarter assessment, increase quality of instruction, and crease better systems for accountability.
- Eric Sheninger, Principal at New Milford High School located in Bergen County, NJ. Known throughout the globe as @NMHS_Principal on Twitter his leadership has radically transformed the teaching and learning culture at his school while providing a framework and example for others to follow. His work has been acknowledged nationally through numerous awards, publications, and speaking engagements. It is through his work that stakeholders in his district and beyond can see how a culture has been established that is preparing students for success in today’s globally connected society.
He has transitioned the school to Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), integrated OpenCourseWare from prestigious universities such as MIT for student credit and personalized learning, tackled the difficult grading culture that was broken, and implemented Google’s 80/20 model of innovation so all staff have job-embedded growth opportunities during the school day. To learn more about his phenomenal work visit http://ericsheninger.com.
Eric has emerged as an innovative leader in the use of social media, Web 2.0 technology, and change leadership. He is a NASSP Digital Principal Award winner (2012), PDK Emerging Leader Award recipient (2012), winner of Learning Forward’s Excellence in Professional Practice Award (2012), Google Certified Teacher, Adobe Education Leader, ASCD 2011 Conference Scholar, co-author of “Communicating and Connecting With Social Media: Essentials for Principals” and “What Principals Need to Know About Teaching and Learning Science”, writer on education for the Huffington Post, co-creator of the Edscape Conference, sits on the FEA Board of Directors, and was named to the NSBA “20 to Watch” list in 2010 for technology leadership.
He models leadership by being on every social network there is. All of his work in those networks is about enhancing professional practice, with the exception of my personal Facebook page. He also runs the school’s Twitter stream and Facebook page. Through social media he has been able to gain ideas from the network and been able to share what he doing. He encourages them to develop their own PLN so that they can see the benefits of being a connected educator. He is primarily using communities, social networks or other tools like Twitter, social bookmarking sites like Delicious and Diigo, Pinterest, edWeb (Leadership 3.0 network, which I run), ASCDEdge, Classroom 2.0, Educators PLN, Google+ (starting to use a lot more, and other educators are as well), Flickr, LinkedIn and blogs for staying a Connected Educator.
- Kelly Meadows is the Coordinator of Educational Technology at Kennedy Krieger Schools, Kennedy Krieger Institute, Maryland, where adding interactive technology to classrooms has proved highly effective in teaching students with diverse disorders, including autism, learning disabilities, speech or language disorders and traumatic brain injuries. A typical Kennedy Krieger classroom is comprised of multiple computers, iPads, Epson BrightLink interactive projectors or Promethean ActivBoards, and has access to assistive software such as Kurzweil, Word Q, and Snap n Read. The school is facilitating a technology-rich environment where instant access to information through a variety of media will be provided to help educators easily teach beyond the walls of their classrooms.
- Luis G. Sanchez, Principal at Radians School of Math, Science, and Technology, Cayey, Puerto Rico encourages students to have laptops beginning in 6th grade. The school uses the Moodle platform to enrich the on-site courses. Interactive SMART Boards are available in almost all rooms, and the school maintains a SmartRoom for classrooms which do not have a board. Preschool students use iPads to practice motor and cognitive skills. A school-wide robotics program uses MindStorm for elementary school and VEX for secondary students. Students are trained in Google Sketch-Up and they produce designs for use in class. The use of technology has streamlined the administrative work of the school tremendously. The school uses PowerSchool to maintain grades. Teachers maintain websites to inform parents, and students can access their homework through these teacher pages, as well as work via the Moodle platform.
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