This is a topic that has been on my mind for a while now: growing and cultivating EdTech Leadership. From where I sit in an international school in SE Asia I see a large pool of talented educators and leaders in international schools, but those that understand the multi-leveled complexity of Educational Technology seem to be rare.
What I often find is people are strong in one element of EdTech leadership, but not all.
For example, you go to international schools and find technology managers that are former IT professionals or engineers. They have strong networking, client/server, and systems skills. The infrastructure needs at those schools are well attended to, usually within a well maintained and planned budget. However, these managers often lack the understanding of curriculum and pedagogic needs.
Then I find another side as well with former teachers who have moved into a technology integration role and on to leadership. The folks have a clear connection between technology tools and the teaching and learning activities. They understand very well what good resource infused learning looks like and can show effectiveness through authentic assessment. Yet, their understanding of deep IT terminology, strategy, design, and maintenance is often insufficient to maintain large systems found in international schools.
Still, there is another type of leader I find in schools: the senior admin given the technology department. These administrators usually have some other area of responsibility within the school – finance, academics, etc. – and have little experience with technology for learning or infrastructure. They are strong at leading their teams and tying decisions into schoolwide goals, but IT management and on-the-ground planning is lacking.
This is not to say these three examples of school EdTech leadership are bad for a school. In fact, I find that schools hire people with skills in the tech field to meet their most immediate needs and they are usually quite pleased with those appointments and the results they achieve.
The gap I find is in long term impact on schools and the field in general. I believe a good EdTech leader need to be grounded in IT skills, educational technology integration into learning, and leadership capacity. I’ll talk more about that in a later post.
What this really brings me to is need. I find there is a need for leadership development in the EdTech field. We need a professional development or certification system to helps aspiring EdTech leaders identify their strengths and fill in their gaps. We need a mentorship network where those rare leaders that have skills and experience in the aforementioned areas can help other grow. We need a framework for staff evaluation to help school identify where their leaders need to grow and to identify the key characteristics for potential employees.
Now, there are some programs that do this already. The CTEL program through CoSN is one that comes to mind. I have read through the course materials and met several graduates of the system. These people have found a lot of value in the CTEL certification in their work in the US, mostly at public school districts.
Further, I am sitting next to a woman who runs a CIO/CTO workshop as part of the pre-conference festivities for ISTE. She has a number of existing and hopeful district administrators discuss leadership and salient issues related to EdTech policy in their districts.
Yet, these don’t fill the needs in SE Asia where I live or in Europe or the Middle East and Africa. These are good programs with strong content and I am sure there are several more, but they are location limited.
I am hoping we can develop a program and network that is independent of space and time where people can connect with an assigned mentor, complete self-evaluations, or take courses within their own contexts. I would like us to create materials that are focused on international school needs. I would like us to draw upon our collective resources to improve the leadership capacity in our school around EdTech.
How do we do it? Please send me a note if you’re interested in sharing, learning, or whatever.