A Question For School Leaders…Are you preparing students for…?

Image via http://farm8.static.flickr.com/ 

I still remember how excited I was back in May 2011 when the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP) published their position statement on Social Media and Mobile Technologies.  As we approach the four-year anniversary of this document, my feelings have changed to disappointment due to the limited progress I perceive in this area.  Ignoring and/or banning the use of social media and mobile technologies in schools is still far too prevalent and it is bad for kids.

Here is the key phrase in this position statement for me:

“Education should prepare students to be active, constructive participants in a global society.”

The best way for this to happen is also clearly articulated in the position statement:

“Encourage and model the appropriate and responsible use of mobile and social technologies to maximize students’ opportunities to create and share content.”

Along the same line, the recent interview below that Joe Mazza did with Richard Culatta, Director of the United States Office of Education Technology Culatta talks about what we need in our schools to create schools that are “Future Ready.”  

“It’s not OK for district and school leaders to say I’m not that tech savvy. Even joking about that is not funny anymore…The strategy for using technology to transform learning cannot be delegated…”

So I ask my colleagues the following question: What are you doing to model the use of technological tools in your role? 

Here’s a place to start 

If you aren’t sure where to start, NASSP has shown great leadership over the past four years with its Digital Principal Award that selects three school leaders annually “who exhibit bold, creative leadership in their drive to harness the potential of new technologies to further learning goals.”

Check out the work of this year’s winners John Bernia, James Richardson, and Bill Ziegler to get a look at what best practice looks like.  In addition, look back at past winners (2014) Daisy Dyer Duerr, Jason Markey, Derek McCoy, (2013) Dwight Carter, Ryan Imbriale, Carrie Jackson, (2012) Eric Sheninger, Mike King, and me.  All of these school leaders are just a few keystrokes away and they are willing to answer questions that you may have to help you and/or your school community move forward on this challenging and exciting path!

To Have Technology or Not Have Technology Is Not The Question

I have read with great interest Larry Cuban’s three-post series titled The Lack of Evidence-Based Practice: The Case of Classrooms Technology. As someone who supports the integration of more resources for students and educators, I think there is some truth to Mr. Cuban’s words. However, as someone who has seen a number of anti-EdTech posts over the years, I also feel strongly that there is no new information here. 

It is quite easy to find examples where large amounts of money were spent on devices for schools with little forethought given to intended outcomes or professional development. We need look no further than Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) which seems to be the poster child for anti-iPads/Devices in schools.  The bottom line in this whole conversation is summed up in the tweet below from Will Richardson

Unfortunately, I have spoken with many administrators who have spent money on devices without a firm understanding of what they intended to accomplish with them. But despite the fact that I believe the schools and districts who have integrated technological resources thoughtfully are in the minority, I am tired of those like Cuban who wish to throw the baby out with the bathwater. We need to put our energy into finding outliers where things are working well and highlight the steps that were taken in these schools and districts.
Assertions that success stories do not exist are false. But the difficult part here is pinpointing the real cause of success because it has much more to do with the mindset changes regarding learning than it does with the deployment of devices.  School communities that embrace a more constructivist mindset where students are encouraged to create their own understanding of key concepts with access to modern technological resources are what we all need to strive for.  
As Tim Holt points out in his rebuttal to the Cuban posts, Taking On Larry Cuban and The Case of Classroom Technology (Parts 1, 2, and 3), it is ironic that Cuban is utilizing technological resources like his blog and his Twitter account to get out his message. Imagine if he encouraged schools to teach students to use such platforms to connect and learn with others who share their passions on a particular topic? I imagine some of his colleagues at Stanford could show him some evidence of the successful integration of technology to impact student learning. 

Anyway, I am left to ponder the Five Stages of Innovation and wonder whether or not Mr. Cuban will ever hit the fifth stage? 

The Five Stages of Innovation 

  1. People deny that the innovation is required. 
  2. People deny that the innovation is effective.
  3. People deny that the innovation is important.
  4. People deny that the innovation will justify the effort required to adopt it.
  5. People accept and adopt the innovation, enjoy its benefits, attribute it to people other than the innovator, and deny the existence of stages 1 to 4.
— Inspired by Alexander von Humboldt’s ‘Three Stages Of Scientific Discovery’, as referenced by Bill Bryson in his book, ‘A Short History Of Nearly Everything’.  (source – http://www.philcooke.com/five_stages_of_innovation/)