Qualities of School Technology Leaders

To become technologically sophisticated, a school must have at least one person employed who possesses high competency in three areas: education, technology, and leadership.

Mastery of education is essential so that a school’s technology program always serves the school’s educational mission. People who are experts in technology and leadership but not education may lead their schools down false paths, committing to technologies that do not ultimately serve the school, and perhaps alienating teachers and school administrators along the way.

Mastery of technology is essential in order to navigate the many technology offerings that purport to improve education, and in order to keep pace with this rapidly changing field. People who possess education and leadership skills but not technology may appear tentative or skeptical about adopting technology tools within a school.

Mastery of leadership is essential in order to guide a school through change processes and build support among the school’s leadership team. People who possess education and technology skills but not leadership may have great ideas but become frustrated when others do not adopt or support them.

This person’s position will depend strongly on how the school’s leadership team is designed — the relationships and distribution of responsibilities among the different school leaders. This person could be a technology director, academic technology director, division head, head of school, academic dean, dean of faculty, or director of innovation.

The school that lacks such a person will struggle with technology, for example by exhibiting marked inconsistencies in how technology is used or hardly adopting new technologies at all to support teaching and learning. School leadership would do well to identify whether the school already has someone who fulfills this role, whether an existing faculty or staff member could grow into this role, or whether the school should hire someone new to introduce this role.

 

2 comments

  1. Sara Carter says:

    Richard,
    I LOVE your site. Amazing how it applies to so many schools.

    You are absolutely correct about those three qualities — but in my opinion, there is one you left out. I would call it “Power.”

    Those who have all three of the qualities you mention still get trounced by “someone” in a position of control or power (i.e. administrator, IT head). Those with the three qualities teach full schedules and try to move ahead, only to be smacked with a simple and clear “no” (or a stop and desist notice.) It makes the leader feel helpless and worn out, put in his/her place.

    In many schools, the IT person is the one in control and also the one with the least amount of knowledge as to classroom/teacher/student needs. Ironic.

    To truly be an educational tech leader, one needs more than a committee’s semblance of authority, but they need a real badge or position of influence, and thus the power to engage new technology.

  2. Richard says:

    Yes, good point about the need for authority in order to move changes forward. Ideally, those with leadership qualities also gain authority, either through gaining the respect of their peers or actually being promoted into such a position. Also, people who gain authority can further develop their leadership skills because they are in a position of great responsibility every day.