The Three Key Elements of EdTech Success in International Schools

If you search the Internet, you’ll innumerable articles about factors for success in Educational Technology programs. These are contextualized for school districts, Ministry of Education schools, and private schools serving local populations. They often talk about about funding and environmental conditions or buy-in and visioning. I would suggest that as you look into developing your EdTech programs in international schools you investigate these resources. There are a number of takeaways and tools that have immense value for international education.

The Three Key Elements of EdTech Success in International Schools
Still, our context is a bit different. We serve diverse populations of students from around the world paired with host nation kids. We have affluent families and those on scholarship. We have linguistic variability that rivals most Multi-National Corporations. Most of all, we have transitory populations in our teaching staff, administration, and students. As such, the requirements in international schools are complex and varied when we look at essential conditions for EdTech success.

That said, when you overlay the needs of international schools, three key elements bubble up in schools that have the greatest impact in the field of educational technology: administrative commitment, community support, and appropriate resourcing.

The Three Key Elements of EdTech Success in International Schools
The schools that I have seen (and had the pleasure to work with) that have been most successful in creating impactful and ingrain EdTech programs have shown a very public commitment from the administration and ownership. They have developed a clear vision that is understood by everyone in an explicit and tacit manner. When you talk to these site leaders individually they can clearly articulate the vision for EdTech in school, discuss its provisioning, the operational impacts its had on the organization, and how and where you can see improvements in teaching and learning because of it. Interestingly, the turnover of school leaders in these schools doesn’t seem to affect their success because the commitment of leadership towards the use of technology for learning becomes pervasive in the ethos of the school. They do this through public statements, learning conversations with the community, funding, professional development allocations, and evaluation models for staff, students, and the overall organization.

Parallel to leadership commitment towards EdTech, the most successful schools have a level of community buy-in towards improving teaching and learning. I have seen where faculties have engaged leadership in Educational Technology conversations that have been pointed and challenging, but not confrontational. The result being teachers who integrate EdTech at varying levels, but whom all embrace the school’s intent to improve student learning through digital resources. They do not actively (or even subversively) block initiatives or school sponsored support. Similarly, the parent body actively engages, asks good questions, and develops a level of understanding and support for Educational Technology as a means of delivering 21st century learning. Some may take issue with screen time or worry about security, but the bring up these issue in a constructive forum where everyone in the community can learn and contribute. And of course, the students are part of the decision making process in the most successful schools. They aid in the implementation of programs, the user support, and the evaluation of new systems. They take ownership of their learning through their collective voice in the shape of EdTech at their school.

The Three Key Elements of EdTech Success in International Schools
However, I have seen this human capital support in a number of school that I can’t describe as successful because they were resource limited. I have seen schools put up barriers to access to what is need for full implemented EdTech program. I have seen resourcing models that are not learning focused. I have seen Ready, Fire, Aim models of technology systems procurement. To be successful in international schools, EdTech needs to be appropriately resourced. To a degree, I am talking about devices, money, and support personnel, but this not the bottom line. What I am talking about committed resources towards growth. The most successful schools have created financial plans that draw upon their abilities to supply students and teachers with access to technology in a sustainable way. This may come in a 1:1 program or single computer lab. Perhaps Edmodo as a free service or some fully featured Learning Management System. They have also given the resource of training and support through time, personnel, and access to external expertise. These school understand there is a balance between IT and Learning Technology. Mostly, they have given the resource of time. Time to build program, to collaborate, to create legacy for new students and teachers, and time to find the best ways to improve teaching and learning through the use of technology.

AnakAnakDigital (Kids and Technology) on MetroTV News Indonesia

Anak Anak Digital (Kids and Technology) on MetroTV news IndonesiaAnak Anak Digital on MetroTV News Indonesia

MetroTV News in Indonesia (similar to CNN) has a weekly program call 360 (like 60 minutes) where they investigate various topics in Jakarta and around Indonesia. In this segment, they look at the use of technology by students for learning. They visited a local Indonesian school and my school, the British School of Jakarta. They used our school as an exemplar of how technology could be used to enhance teaching and learning. Most of the video is in Bahasa, but my parts and the interview with our parents is in English. Both are pretty interesting in context.

Take a look at my goofy smirk @ 12:15 into the video.

The Tenets of Educational Technology Leadership: EDUCATIONAL TECHNOLOGY

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This video is part of a series of VLOG entries related to Educational Technology Leadership. In this video, I talk about the need to understand Technology for Learning, or EdTech, in schools. I cover the pedagogic and curriculum skills needed to use digital resources to improving learning that must be understood to be an effective EdTech Leader.

The tenets of EdTech Leadership are Leadership, Management, Information Technology, Educational Technology, Systemic Thinking, and Professional Learner.

Source: The EdTech Vlog by Matt Harris, Ed.D.

A Need for International EdTech Best Practices/Approaches/Conditions

 

I have been churning on this one for a while. In my travels and my work with international schools around Asia, I have found that the needs of non-US schools, teachers, curricula, and pedagogies are just not being met. There is something unique about our situation that requires a special set of best practices specifically tailored for international school environments.

A Need for International EdTech Best Practices

You’ll notice that I didn’t say “Standards.” There are very robust standards out there that are available to all schools. The two best ones are the ISTE Standards and UNESCO Teacher Competencies. ISTE has done a great job of breaking their standards down into stakeholder group: Students, Teachers, Administrators, and Coaches. UNESCO’s competencies talk about the pedagogic conditions teachers need to embody for the greatest impact of EdTech on their students.

However, both of these have an issue: their greatest strength is their largest flaw when you apply them internationally. Both UNESCO and ISTE have created broad reaching standards, so broad that they can become unwieldy to apply at a site based level. Further, they were not crafted by international school educators. The ISTE standards for the most part have come from US public school educators and UNESCO works with MOE focused international educators. Not to fault them at all, but their broad nature and their origins don’t align with the needs of international education.

A Need for International EdTech Best Practices

We need a set of best practices, approaches to integration, or even conditions for success that understand the key elements of international schools. Consider the following variables:

  • Extreme linguistic and cultural diversity
  • Transitory nature of staff and students
  • Variances in teacher training
  • Balance between host country conditions and school ethos
  • Resource availability and reliability
  • Ownership – standalone vs. schools group, profit vs. non-profit, association vs. investors
  • Cosmopolitan nature of international school stakeholders

And of course the list goes on and on to the point where I can’t even fathom where to go to address these needs.

I would suggest that we put together a group of international school EdTech professionals to draw upon outside standards and internal knowledge to develop a set of best practices, considerations, and strategies for international schools to use around the world.

Who’s in?

The Tenets of Educational Technology Leadership: INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY (IT)

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This video is part of a series of VLOG entries related to Educational Technology Leadership. In this video, I talk about the need to understand Information Technology in schools. I cover the six key areas of IT you need to be versed in and the degree to which you need to understand IT to be an effective EdTech Leader.

The tenets of EdTech Leadership are Leadership, Management, Information Technology, Educational Technology, Systemic Thinking, and Professional Learner

Source: The EdTech Vlog by Matt Harris, Ed.D.

TIEOnline: Digital Citizenship as a Bridge to Contemporary Teaching and Learning

Digital Citizenship as a Bridge to Contemporary Teaching and Learning - Matt Harris, Ed.D.

I had the pleasure of writing a featured article for The International Educator, a worldwide publication for international schools. My article, Digital Citizenship as a Bridge to Contemporary Teaching and Learning, outlines how the focal areas of Digital Citizenship can be used to connect contemporary skills with traditional content based learning. Click here to read the full article (subscription required).

ASCD In Service: Culture Difference And My Leadership Style

ASCD Inservice: Culture Difference And My Leadership Style

I had the honor of writing a guest blog post for the ASCD In Service blog. They asked for a piece on lessons learned in educational leadership practice. I wrote a piece where I talk about developing my leadership style while embracing cultural differences. Click here to read the full post.

Using the ISTE Standards to Develop Inquiry in Schools – 2016 21st Century Learning Conference Hong Kong

Using the ISTE Standards to Develop Inquiry in Schools - 21CLHK16 - Matt Harris, Ed.D., Kari Stubbs, Ph.D., Wayne Burnett, Ed.D.
[PDF] Using the ISTE Standards to Develop Inquiry in Schools – 21CLHK16 – Matt Harris, Ed.D., Kari Stubbs, Ph.D., Wayne Burnett, Ed.D.

This two part series focuses on using the ISTE Standards to encourage inquiry in Teaching and Leadership in International Schools. These presentation were given in partnership with Kari Stubbs and Wayne Burnett. Presented at the 21st Century Learning Conference in Hong Kong, 2016.

Protected: Being an EdTech Leader – 2016 21st Century Learning Conference Hong Kong

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The Tenets of Educational Technology Leadership: MANAGEMENT

If the preview doesn’t load, click here to view the video on YouTube.

This video is part of a series of VLOG entries related to Educational Technology Leadership. I discuss the qualities and areas of focus for managerial skills in the EdTech context. I cover HR management, financial management and budgeting, vendor relations, negotiations, and more.

The tenets of EdTech Leadership are Leadership, Management, Information Technology, Educational Technology, Systemic Thinking, and Professional Learner

Source: The EdTech Vlog by Matt Harris, Ed.D.